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Sales Strategies for the Future, with Steve Norman [Episode 712]

Steve Norman, B2B sales consultant, speaker, and author of Future Proof Sales Strategy: 7 Steps to Rise Above the Chaos, and Transform Your Team and Take Charge of Your Career, joins me on this episode.

Key Takeaways

  • Steve wrote the book Future Proof Sales Strategy to help B2B organizations get up to date and competitive and to adapt to change. A team is a living, changing organism. Be very serious about managing change; don’t miss a step.
  • Steve talks about non-specialized and specialized sales structures. Andy asks if the right people are doing the outreach. Steve says the older ways of prospecting are getting much harder as customers avoid salespeople.
  • Steve suggests a field salesperson, working with the inside salesperson, is required at a certain price point. Andy and Steve share their perspectives as former field salespersons.
  • The inside salesperson calls on the field sales specialist to make a call when it is worthwhile. Multiple inside salespersons work with one field salesperson.
  • Steve expects the field salesperson to have one or two good meetings a day set up by inside sales, while also setting their own appointments.
  • The book lists steps to future-proof sales. Employ the right sales structure. Recruit and promote the right talent. Assessments and aptitude tests help. Steve says to use structured interviews and give a sample work task.
  • Andy suggests how to improve sales hiring by tracking hiring data against the sales results of the reps that were hired. Sales forecasting skills could also be improved by tracking forecasts to results. Most companies don’t try.
  • Another step is to Develop high-converting middle-of-the-funnel (MOFu) capabilities. Steve explains specialization with regard to MOFu activities while working with buying committees.
  • Who should negotiate a deal? Andy recommends using contract professionals. Salespeople need to be skilled in trade-offs, bringing in other elements away from pricing.
  • Qualification, discovery, and needs analysis are skills needed for any salesperson to be future-proofed. Stay on top of change by continually learning proactively.
  • Steve talks about gap analysis and closing.
  • Where are the sales conferences on qualification and discovery? Steve and Andy consider putting one together.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:00  

It’s time to accelerate! Hey friends, this is Andy. Welcome to Episode 712. That’s seven one two of Accelerate, the sales podcast of record. A great episode lined up for you today. My guest today is Steve Norman. Steve is the author of a book titled, Future Proof Sales Strategy, Seven Steps to Rise Above the Chaos and Transform your Team and Take Charge of Your Career. Now in today’s conversation, Steven and I discuss his seven step strategy to future proof your selling. It’s written from the perspective of the organization and the sales manager as well as you, the individual seller, the individual contributor. And one of the areas we’re going to explore in depth is the necessity for individual contributors and teams alike become much much more proficient in the middle of the funnel sales skills, you know, things would take for granted, discovery, qualification needs analysis, and so on. And, and these are the steps I believe, are the ones that are the most important steps in your sales process. And we’re gonna talk about why perhaps we need to take a cue from the hyper specialization that’s occurred with our outbound sales processes, and develop some roles specialist and some of these middle of the funnel sale steps. So this little lightning and I opened conversation, make sure you stick around for it. Alright, let’s jump into today’s conversation. Steve Norman, welcome to the show.


Steve Norman  3:15  

Hey, real pleasure to be here. Andy.


Andy Paul  3:17  

Pleasure to have you. So you’re joining us all the way from where today?


Steve Norman  3:21  

Sydney, Australia on the place called Colorado on the Northern Beaches.


Andy Paul  3:26  

But north of Bondi?


Steve Norman  3:29  

Bondi is south of the city. The Northern Beaches is north of the city, you know, a place called Manly?


Andy Paul  3:36  

Yeah, I think I was thinking manly. Okay, the two beaches I know.


Steve Norman  3:44  

Okay. You’ll show it. Yeah, I’m just a little north of Manly.


Andy Paul  3:47  

Got it. That’s beautiful. Right. Yeah. And also since it’s summertime, there, it’s 20 degrees here in New York City today. So 20 degrees Fahrenheit. So okay. I would trade places.


Steve Norman  3:59  

Yeah. No, it’s lovely at this time of year.


Andy Paul  4:01  

Yeah. Well, good. Well, thank you for joining me. So we’re going to talk about your book. So you got a new book for those of us who, who can see Steve, we’re recording the video behind him. He’s promoting himself well, Future Proof Sales Strategy, the name of a book, Seven Steps to Rise Above the Chaos, Transform your Team and Take Charge of your Career. So let me ask you a question. And this is this is one that I think, at least I think about, I think others think about as well as is this whole concept of future proofing? It is one I thought a lot about actually. And you make a good point in your book is that, you know, the rate of change is so extreme these days. Certainly, it’s not slowing down whether it’s getting faster. I don’t know. But I mean, certainly rate changes are still very extreme, as if things are changing so quickly. How can you really future proof yourself Right I mean, let’s talk with an organization or sales team level or individual seller and you outline some sales structure, recommend sales structure in your book and so on. And, but you know, things change, right? I mean, it’s, that’s exactly at some point that’s gonna be outdated.


Steve Norman  5:18  

So, it’s a fair point. So that idea of the book is okay, let’s, here’s how you get your team and your structure up to date and competitive. But then the last portion of the book is about how to manage constant and ongoing change. So how to constantly evaluate what’s happening on the horizon. Look for those, those early indicators, that things are working as well and that we need to adapt again, and we need to keep aligning, keep adapting our sales machine, you know, I liken it to a living organism. If you like that change needs to reflect, you know, the company’s priorities and what’s happening in the market. And we need to be constantly adapting. And it’s something sales teams probably haven’t been, you know, that great at is, you know, managing change in the sales context.


Andy Paul  6:17  

Was that, you know, if you look within a tighter corporate structure and all the various departments are sales less adaptable than others? I mean, when you’ve worked for some big organizations.


Steve Norman  6:28  

I wouldn’t say it’s less adaptable. I’m just talking about you know, that the sales sales teams themselves, I wouldn’t say it’s less adaptable, but you’re in general, your change initiatives and even you know, General Business initiatives have got a pretty high failure rate, you know, around the 70% mark. So, they, you need to be very serious about managing change, and drive that through a pretty detailed structure. If you miss any key step in change management, your things won’t take hold Right, yeah, salespeople bounce straight back to their old practice.


Andy Paul  7:07  

Well, I just saw to that point, though, is there some thought that in our rush to, to adapt as we’re adapting to a perception of change that maybe isn’t really there in reality, but maybe things aren’t changing quite as quickly as we think they are? I mean, I still get that sense. I mean, because you certainly see it and and, and we’ll see it in sales. Right. Right now there’s, there’s a sort of I’ll call the sales structure detour sort of mentality is right now there’s, you know, we’ve got a playbook, we’ve got inside sales, we’ve got your SDRs, we’ve really focused on specialized sales functions. And that, and we’re still talking about it like it’s sort of new, but the fact is, it’s been around for almost 20 years now, in some cases longer depending on the industry.


Steve Norman  7:54  



Andy Paul  7:56  

And we know that’s going to change, right because we’re already seeing I’m certainly seeing in the conversations. I have with sales leaders that they’re saying, Well, you know, this model. Yeah, we went whole hog into it, because that’s what I said worked and may not it’s not, it’s not working for us. So we’re gonna make some changes. Yeah, how do you know Where do you see those changes coming from? I mean, and how do you really do? How do you really discern what is actual change you need to react to versus less than the sort of the perceived change?


Steve Norman  8:23  

Yeah, I guess there’s a couple of categories of company or sales teams, that there are some that really haven’t moved to that specialization model at all. Right. So I still see a lot of that with sales teams running, say in a regional team, and the regional managers responsible for the target. And then what happens underneath that regional team, we don’t really have much visibility or, you know, we have some idea of the structure and what they’re doing but they’re doing new business. They’re doing you know, managing deals. There. They’re managing existing customers and expansion. They’re going into new markets, you know, within that region say, right, so, that will be the old type of structure.


Steve Norman  9:13  

Move towards some specialization. And then there’s organizations that we’re earlier to move into specialization, you know, have the inside and so forth. But most of those organizations here, maybe they’ve been running their acquisition inside the sales engine for 10 years or 15 years. But a lot of what they’re doing is what I was doing 10 years ago that was effective then. So I don’t know if that structure is wrong in that sense. You know, I really want to be auditing and inspecting what they’re actually doing, and are they doing the right quality work. So I think that that’s a big change. It is a shift to be successful. Now. You have to be doing very high quality activity. versus just hitting numbers, just driving quantity that was enough before, you know, get 10 graduates in a room, teach them about your product, your advantages, give them a list of accounts to call and you’ll be decent hit rate on just calling out or sending a pretty basic email that just that has a very poor return these days. So, you know, we at least need to be within that structure doing a much higher quality job there.


Andy Paul  10:31  

Yeah, this whole idea of the specialization is fascinating and I think it’s inevitable. I think it is the right way to go. I wonder if we have though the way so many companies are implementing it is that they have the wrong people on the job. So to give a perfect example is and I don’t actually know the answer, but just a concern is that you will have our outreach being done by The least experienced people, right are proactive outreach and really specialized roles. And I could make a compelling case that we should actually have our most experienced people doing outreach. Because that first interaction is so critical that maybe it’s not just about if you actually get a hold of someone, you shouldn’t just be trying to set us that call that few minutes you have for them to set the next meeting, you should actually say, let’s have a substantive conversation. I’ve got you on the phone. I’ve seen this work. I’ve implanted this model, you know, more experienced people I call the sharp end of the stick in my first book, you can actually engage people in a much different way, a much higher level that truly does accelerate the selling process. So but we don’t seem to have many people sort of open to these ideas, because we tend to think this is I think back to sort of a point yakking about sort of traditional views of things. What’s the point of saying, look, we’re gonna do a specialization. If we’re Especially putting a veneer specialization on the old hierarchical structure he always used to use.


Steve Norman  12:07  

Yeah, look, I think, you know, prospecting gets a lot of attention, and you were talking about it. And definitely, that’s getting much harder, I believe, then it then it used to be, you know, customers are avoiding it. I believe customers are avoiding salespeople more. We know they’re doing their research online and so forth. So it is a tough job. I’d say to your point, you know, depends what you’re selling depends on the value of what you’re selling. But I’ve seen inside sales teams be very effective with the right training, and maybe they’re not fresh out of college, maybe three to five years experience. You’re able to take the sale right through to completion. Yeah, you know, up to say, I don’t know 100,000 to 200,000, a year type of subscriptions and they get up to that level is pretty successful. Beyond that, you know, I’d like that team though they probably need to engage, you know, a feel person to take forward, right. But I like the idea of some of the teams I’ve set up. The inside person continues as they can continue as the main contact even for that account. And they’re more like directing the field resource to sort of come in and do a specific job because they feel resources, we know it’s much more expensive just in terms of salary, but in terms of their efficiency, how many meetings it can have, and, and all of that we want to use that very carefully, very sparingly. So I like the idea of, you know, how far can we take inside sales in the sales process? And then if like I say, even have them sell right through?


Andy Paul  13:54  

Yeah, it’s interesting too, because this is a no, maybe it’s a lot. Have an oral tradition being passed down or something but there’s this perspective that oh back, you know, 20 years ago, you know, the Field Sales Rep was, yeah, this whole inefficiency thing. They only make so many calls per day. And as someone who started my career as field salesperson really used primarily, see, I wouldn’t even call the sales teams I grew field sales teams, right? Because we spell the sales team, we spent 75% of our time on the phone. And then when we had to travel, as I told you, I used to travel to Australia a lot. But I went with the specific intent and purpose and everything else. I handled phone and fax and email. Right. So yeah, that doesn’t seem like it’s that different, right? Especially what you just described, you have an inside person sort of directing and then if they need to invoke a field person, they bring that field specialist in models, not that different.


Steve Norman  15:00  

All show and, and I know I was in Dell from 1993 to 2006. Right and, and when we were heavily into inside sales from the beginning and i think i think we mastered that, that balance of inside and outside and we pushed as far as we could so for for the large enterprise accounts, we probably had one one or one to two, or one and a half inside people from each field awesome to do all the preparation and administration and just to keep that fail person fully occupied, you know, to two or three high quality meetings a day with high end enterprise customers. And of course the field person is doing a lot of their own appointment setting as well but you’ve got this like support. And then in what we call the medium sized accounts, you say below 5000 employees or 5000 seats. It was more like four Inside for a field person, right, and we played around with that number alone for free, and we sort of stretched it out to six and it looked like about four was good. And that’s where the inside person really owned the account. And was really doing this direction, right at the enterprise level, the field guide, probably and it was the inside supporting and following up more. And then when we went into what we’ve small business, say below 1000 employees or below 500, it was more like 10 or 12. Right. So we would only get the field person involved. If it was really worthwhile. If we came across a while, you know, the inside guy came across needing your 300 PCs, or I okay, well, we’ll get and you had to, you had to justify getting the field person in, right. So, which was always the case, right? I mean, at least in my experience when I wasn’t working priceless at Dell but a lot of high growth startups and yeah, we have an executive I had to sign off on all the travel. I mean, the whole theory was we traveled when we needed to otherwise we can get through everything we needed remotely, which is I said it’s sort of funny because people people act like they’ll sometimes like a revelation but company has been sort of doing this for a while I think there was this perception that it wasn’t quite that you know, the fields people in their certain industries feel people are in the field all the time. But a lot of B2B situations and certainly in technology are pure. I couldn’t afford to be there all the time, right? We had to be judicious like I guess we got a different point of view because I just think, you know, I want to keep the field person fully occupied in the field as much as possible. And I just think it’s going to be more efficient to have the inside work. The grind work, a lot of that can be done more efficiently by someone who’s at their desk the whole time with access to the system and access to the CRM and doing all of that.


Andy Paul  18:13  

Well, I guess we’re not that different, actually. I was just saying as a whole The perception, the perception of today, if you look back 10 years and say, yeah, that didn’t work. That was, it’s like, it’s really not that radically different. I mean, this shows more specialization. But in a lot of the industries that are using inside sales technology from Dell, for instance. Almost always was heavily insight oriented. Oh, yeah, even nominally field. You know, I had nominal field people that all sat at headquarters and they traveled when they needed to, but they’re spending, you know, 75% of their time. inside. Right? Yes, let’s let’s talk about let’s talk about your book. And your seven steps of Future finger sales strategy. And because there’s some really interesting things in there. So step one was employing the right sales structure. We sort of beat that to death here a little bit. Sure. Both things really critically talk about recruiting and promoting the right talent. And yes, the quote from the book about how shockingly ineffective traditional hiring practices are. Yeah, my takeaway was that you were saying that’s really perhaps the most important thing to be done.


Steve Norman  19:29  

Yeah. Well, I’m saying if you don’t do anything else, do this better do this differently. I think if, you know, let’s say you’re running an inefficient sales structure. You don’t have the best processes, but you’re getting by the one lever, you can pull. Let’s say you’re running everything really well. The one lever you can pull the gate to give you a lot of upside is to improve the quality of the people you’re having in all the key positions. Mm hmm. And You know, the way that we traditionally hire and the way that people still hire is mostly on gut feel, right? It’s from unstructured interviews. It’s from people we know or people who are like us, or, you know, people who come into our office and we build rapport with. And of course, salespeople are really great at it if they’re not good at anything. They’re good at coming in. And making a personal connection, right. So we really need to have a more structured scientific way of selecting salespeople, and these days, there’s a lot of great tools around that would allow you to do independent testing of people to see what their sales aptitude is like and what they have. They got to perform in different sales roles, whether that’s a hunting roller count management role and inside role, and so forth. So we should be taking advantage of that.


Andy Paul  20:55  

Yeah, I think the assessments and the aptitude tests are good data. appoints to have as part of the process. Right if a job and having a more structured hiring process. Yeah, I think they get oversold in terms of the value.


Steve Norman  21:08  

Yes. Now it’s a component. It’s like yeah, other components would be to do more structured interviews. Mm hmm.


Andy Paul  21:16  

So tell us what you mean by that?


Steve Norman  21:19  

Well, first, an unstructured interview is an interview where, you know, we don’t know where it’s going to go. We don’t know where it’s going to take us, we start talking to the salesperson, we get a story, we get an example, we go down a different path. Then we pass that salesperson to the next interviewer. And they have their own way of interviewing them, and then they go to a third person and they have their own way, then we all get together. And we have this sort of anecdotal recall of what happened. So that will be an unstructured process. A structured process will be getting in 10 salespeople and asking them all the same questions in the same order.


Andy Paul  22:02  

Yeah, huge believer in this.


Steve Norman  22:04  

Yes. So this needs some thought and preparation. And but once you do that work, you can use that, you know, ongoing, right. So you really need to think about ethics, the key questions to be asking. And then ideally following that we should get them to do a piece of work. Right. So if we, if we do the independent assessment, we do a structured interview, then we get them to do a small piece of work that’s very relevant to the sales situations we find ourselves in. We’re going to make much better decisions, but I couldn’t think of more than I couldn’t think of a handful of companies that are following that process at the moment.


Andy Paul  22:51  

Yeah, interestingly. Yeah, sir organization. I’ve seen many sales teams doing it. My wife works at a big academic institution here. In New York and yeah, and they do it for Yeah, writer employees, they do it for the interviews they have for prospective students who teach at a medical school here for Oh, so prospective applicants or applicants or prospective students. Yeah, they do a very structured interviewing process. And I think for me on this in the spirit of Oracle about future proofing is that you have to have the structured hiring process as you described. I mean, I believe that what you do is you identify your steps in your process. And you know, a step could be the aptitude test. That could be the assessment stuff, could be the structure in interviews, I still think one person needs to do the deep dive interview that goes through the resume. You don’t like the hiring manager maybe. But that, yeah, you have three or four people assigned to do the structured interview but every step has a point value. Right, you score. You score this so at the end, yes. You say, Look, my Hiring range is between at the total max point. So this is 45 points, and I’m only gonna hire people that are 38 or better. But to the point about future proofing, what that does then is you can then two years from now, when you’ve been looking at hiring somebody new found out oh, you know, we actually had the best results from people that were 42 to 36 or 42. Yeah, we absolutely hate it. You say, Okay, how do I improve my process? How do I perfect it? And that doesn’t exist in sales hiring today. And so I think if you’re trying to blame anybody, have an eye to the future, you know, which folks are we bringing in that might have team leader or management potential? Exactly, you know, we’re in a, you know, a fast growing mode.


Steve Norman  24:43  

We’re trying to attract folks with three to five years experience to get on the phones, but maybe they’re not there. They’re like they’re looking for a team leader or, you know, we can test them to be a team leader, but say, Hey, you got to be on the phone for a year. And then we’ll take you to the team later. And we know that they’re ready for that already. So, yeah, it can be useful in a lot of ways.


Andy Paul  25:05  

Yeah. I just I think the lesson for people listening is that whatever you’re doing with hiring is, you gotta, you have to quantify what it is that you want to hire and quantify the results and keep your records and look at the outcomes are receiving with the people that you hired, compared to the, you know, the scores that you wanted people to have. And then yes, you give yourself away to start training yourself to recruit and hire the people you want. And we just get that feedback loop over time. Just I see. I’m not sure I’ve seen any company that does that. Well, sales hiring. And it’s crazy.


Steve Norman  25:41  

Yes, yeah, I’ve seen companies that offer that service to companies like it’s outsourced. Mm hmm. And you know, they have the tools and everything that does the tracking and they feed in the sales performance data into the system, okay. And so you can get a very strong correlation between Which will guide which guys or girls are performing well, and what attributes they had, you know, at the time they did the testing, and you just, and that uses machine learning to just keep improving the hiring process. So, so that that’s how it should, should evolve. And also, like we talked about your roles evolve, things change. And as that gets updated, you know, so it should be, again, this sort of living, breathing system.


Andy Paul  26:27  

But the fact is, you know, even a small company that has a handful of salespeople, you can still do this, such as you can do it on a spreadsheet. I mean, it doesn’t, doesn’t require an application or an addition to your tech stack or anything. It’s just, yeah, do a Google Sheet and just be there and just start adding data to it as you start hiring additional people. So they would say things to us like with forecasting, I mean, in sales. Again, I know there’s some companies that do it. I personally haven’t seen any where they Train managers on how to forecast and provide a feedback loop on it. So they show you to improve their forecasting skills.


Steve Norman  27:06  

Yeah, I think my background in Dell, maybe a PhD in forecasting, but you know that it was very good. Yeah, like, the pipeline at week six is much, you’re definitely going to end up here based on the last like 18 quarters of performance and variables and a small army of analysts doing that. So, but


Andy Paul  27:31  

Very few companies have that though, right.


Steve Norman  27:34  

Now, I know they play. They don’t, they don’t. So there’s a lot of upside in implementing just a basic, you know, the back of the envelope version of that.


Andy Paul  27:43  

Yeah, well, I just got it for so many companies, you know, the vast majority of companies, certainly here in the states is, is Yeah, it’s back of envelope forecasting, you know, bottoms up, reps submitted to the manager. The manager looks at tweaks. It goes to the next level and gets tweaked, yada, yada, yada. Fine. Now that’s okay. But you have to be giving people feedback on it. And oh, yeah. And help them learn how they could do it better and start with the data and the data. Okay, data, the data is out. The data is out there.


Steve Norman  28:18  

Yeah, absolutely.


Andy Paul  28:19  

I think that’s one of the sort of themes built into that, as is and you addressed it somewhat in your book is, you know, we have to one of the best ways to use the technology to improve productivity of sales overall, is to track this type of data.


Steve Norman  28:35  

Yeah, and most companies have huge amounts of data available. It’s using it.


Andy Paul  28:43  

Certainly, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. We got a lot of no small midsize businesses that listen to the show, and you’ve got the deal to make it a little more work to do manually, but I agree. So one of the other topics I should talk about is developing a high converting middle of the funnel capability. So tell people what you meant by that, because we’re starting to see this acronym MOFU Mo, few more often more frequently. So, in your mind, what is that high converting middle of the funnel capability?


Steve Norman  29:19  

Yeah. So again, it sort of comes back to specialization, right? So we’re going to have our, your high performing sort of account acquisition or prospecting group, mostly and you’re going to be inside focus generating opportunities and leads. And then we want to have, you know, the Field Sales Team, who, you know, we want to keep them pretty fully occupied, you know, doing high quality meetings with valuable customers or potential customers. And we want that group to be absolutely expert at that middle of funnel activity So okay, so again, we’re getting away from a generalist who may be managing a bunch of existing customers, and their time gets caught up there and they’re doing some prospecting. And they’re sort of good at the middle of the funnel, but you know, they’re not PhD level. So I really want a PhD level, middle of the funnel experts who are just great at, you know, engaging with customers, bringing insight to customers, bringing value to customers, and really differentiating our products and our company, to the customer. You know, your customers that you know that they don’t want. We know this well, that they don’t need someone to come along and educate them about our products, or about our company, or about how many offices we have. You know, that that’s, we know that that doesn’t add value, right? We need business people that understand that Customer’s industry, understand the customer’s business, understand the sort of challenges someone in that customer’s role has, and be able to bring some value and insight into that. So that’s the first part. And then we know that buying in large companies has become much more complex. And we talk, you know, the buying committee topic is a pretty common topic in sales at the moment where there’s, you know, folks involved in buying decisions now. And because when we’re talking about buying a system or buying anything substantial, you’re talking about change in talking about the customer having to change what they’re doing. And then a lot of people get involved in those decisions when you’re talking about change. And there’s a lot of folks who will, who can say No, exactly, who don’t want to change and we need to be skilled at working with the, you know, the key buyer or the seller. The key contact, we’re dealing with who wants this solution? And we need to be working with them. Okay, how are we going to navigate this buying committee or the other stakeholders and work with them and help them to do that effectively? And then you know, there’s a number of techniques, you get into building our value proposition, building the business case, not just winning the beauty contest. So we see a lot of salespeople able to get the customer convinced that we have the best solution. Okay, so yeah, I’ve got the best security solution for your company versus five other competitors. But that doesn’t get you the deal. And there’s plenty of salespeople I’ve seen come to me and say, hey, yeah, I got the design when they had the budget. I had great support, but I didn’t get the deal. All right, because that’s only half the deal. The other half is getting it through the spine. committee getting it approved. And when you’re getting to that level, now we’re starting to compete maybe with other projects and other priorities in the business that have nothing to do with what we’re selling. And so we do have to have that very strong business case, we need to have, you know, the different stakeholders align. So as I want folks, and we’ve got to be training our sales folks on how to manage through that whole complex process. And then at the end of it, of course, we want to get a good outcome for us. And we want a good outcome for the customer. So you know, high level, highly tuned negotiation skills. I think it’s very important for this for this function as well.


Andy Paul  33:49  

So question about that because just this week, I published a piece of saying that sale should not be involved in negotiation. Hmm. Yeah. Yeah, I feel very strongly that sales are horrible negotiators. And I think if you’re selling anything of any complexity especially then you see this as a problem a lot of times in high growth sales teams is that Yeah, the managers who sell real sales reps themselves, they take on this role of negotiating. And really, you know, they’re not special. If you want to close a deal, good deal through procurement, in this more complex environment, you really should use contract professionals. I mean, that’s the way I was when I was growing high growth sales teams. Yeah, one of the most valuable people I had was when we got customers who rarely enter into negotiations on a parallel basis with multiple vendors, because that’s a waste of time. They make the vendor choice they enter into negotiations. So at that point, my perspective if we want to, I think future proof starts future For some degrees, that’s not a seller’s job. We talk about specialization or roles, right? 


Steve Norman  35:07  

Yeah, especially scale. If you have the scale, and you’re talking about pretty substantial, you know, multi multi million dollar contracts. I would ‘ve had experience with that. And I think it can work really well.


Andy Paul  35:18  

I don’t think it has to be that big of a contract. I think $100,000 contracts. Yeah, but you guys, maybe you start with your outside attorney for a bit, but get the salesperson on the loop. Because they’re not good at it. You’re trying to preserve margin, but the only thing salespeople are really skilled at is giving discounts.


Steve Norman  35:41  

Now, I think it’s a challenge and, and hence I highlight it, they need to have negotiation skills, if they’re going to be negotiating deals. You know, I guess that that’s another solution is to bring in, bring in a specialist. But in reality, most companies aren’t going to do that. So well. Give them some basics you sent. I’ve got a couple of basic frameworks for negotiation, at least slightly complexify the deal, don’t just get into a product and a price discussion. Let’s try and bring in some other elements that we can trade off, right? And at least be doing that, at least be doing that that basic thing, and none of them relate to price. So directly, right? Yeah, you don’t have your salespeople, especially more complex deals are trained in this trade off. You call it negotiation. That’s called trade offs. Oh, yeah, the customer says, Well, we really need to have, um, you know, this price, because it’s not quite at our budget. process. That’s fine. So let’s just look at the scope. How about if we just say, okay, we get to that price, but we just can’t do XYZ? Oh, no, no, we really need to have XYZ. Oh, okay. Well, maybe there’s something else. No, no. Okay. Yeah, just as long as On that basis, a salesperson can do that type of trade off for someone. And it’s appropriate that they should. But once you get into the nitty gritty, nitty gritty of the contract that really shouldn’t be there. If they tell you I’m talking more, okay, I’d like to introduce maybe a term commitment. I’d like to talk about maybe the terms of termination payment terms of value added services, it just brings in some other elements away from price.


Andy Paul  37:32  

Yeah. Yeah, no, I agree. 


Steve Norman  37:37  

And then position the seller to say okay, or even reference ability size, you can trade off reference ability for some better terms for the customer. The customers would stand up and introduce you to five other similar accounts, then you can be maybe more flexible. So, just just bringing in some of those elements.


Andy Paul  37:55  

So we just have a few minutes left. I don’t want to dig more into some of the middle funnel things. we’re gonna be talking about sort of business acumen type capabilities, which I think are hugely important and vastly underrepresented in, in our Salesforce in general and worldwide. But yeah, I think things like qualification, discovery needs analysis, things that are these, again, cert core, middle funnel skills are getting short shrift. And I think that I agree. You know, taking an appointment, we need to develop those capabilities. I think that from an individual standpoint, I think that’s what when you combine that with the business acumen you described, you can get those skills down. You, you start future proofing yourself a little bit considering I think so if you’re assuming that I continue to learn because for me, the only way to really future proof yourself, the only thing you can really do is just commit yourself to keep on learning, right, because things are gonna change as long as you’re staying on top of it. By continuing to learn proactively learning that’s really really key. And I think these middle funnel skills, business acumen discovery qualifications and all those things and so much talk about prospecting I we spent a good chunk of the show top prospecting.


Steve Norman  39:15  

Now i think if i sigh your prospecting to me is about this big God give us words.


Andy Paul  39:24  

Most people are listening.


Steve Norman  39:26  

I think closings about this big but I think discovery is like this big. Right? I just think that the middle part of the sale and the end we do focus over here on this shiny object of account acquisition and prospecting. And then closing used to get a lot of attention and yeah, how do you close deals? I want to close there and all this nonsense, right? Yeah, but we know closings quite easy if we do discovery, and they’re like the gap analysis and


Andy Paul  39:56  



Steve Norman  39:56  

right, all this stuff. That’s where we have to be spending time. I couldn’t agree more.


Andy Paul  40:01  

Yeah. And I was making those comment to somebody yesterday is


Steve Norman  40:04  

anytime you don’t solve this by reading a book or doing a course for a couple of days, this is a very intense, ongoing commitment, you know, to be able to do that. It’s not a trivial skill.


Andy Paul  40:18  

No, and I was making a comment tonight, just a couple days ago, but you look at the conferences that are available in the sales world. And there’s, you know, disproportionate number of them devoted to prospecting,


Steve Norman  40:31  

ya know, yeah. Which


Andy Paul  40:33  

I think it is a great idea. I mean, it’s awesome, ya know, and respect the guys that do it the friends of mine. Yeah. But I’m saying where’s the show and qualification? Hmm. Where’s the show on Discovery? Yes. Because, arguably, as you pointed out, your near example you were using your fists to describe the importance of prospecting and closing and you’re drawing a huge circle. Yeah, for the middle of the funnel.


Steve Norman  40:57  

This opportunity for you and I to start a conference. Well, let’s do it because I


Andy Paul  41:01  

I think that this really, this is really something that’s a critical issue. And again, we’re talking about how people prepare themselves for the future. It is an illustration I used to sort of run by . If you buy into it, you’re an Australian, you should understand this. So I use triathlon as sort of the analogy. So three sports, swimming, biking, running. You know, the top pros if they do an Ironman Triathlon, roughly eight hours to complete it. So Ming’s first swing takes you swim two and a half miles, right? 112 run points 6.2 mile marathon. Swimming takes roughly 10% of the total thing. Right? And when you talk to professional triathletes and I’ve swam with a bunch of my swing training in the past, they always just say well, they never win a triathlon in the sunlight. Hmm, but you have to yet be a competent pilot. You have to wait. You can’t be dead laughs coming out of the water. So, to me that’s like prospecting. We’ve been good at it. Yeah. But when you look at the relative scale of what you have to work on as an organization as a sales team, it’s really yes, those last two parts that get across the finish line. And I think we ignore them to my point about a discovery show or conference on qualification. Yet, arguably, they’re way more important. Yes, you can’t do anything to get a prospect. But you’re not gonna get across the finish line, if you don’t master these skills in the middle of the funnel. Oh,


Steve Norman  42:33  

yeah. And you gotta be you gotta be very good at prospecting. If you master that discovery and insight and everything anyway. You know, I think,


Andy Paul  42:44  

but there’s still people doing it though, right? So


Steve Norman  42:46  

yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yes, point. So


Andy Paul  42:49  

anyway, all right. There’s our conference idea. We’ll chat about that offline. So we’ve run out of time, but tell people how to get in contact with you and learn more about your book.


Steve Norman  42:59  

Yeah, absolutely. So you can check out my website, growth vacuum.com.au. And there’s a book page on there, the future proof sales strategy. You can find me on LinkedIn. Stephen Norman, or my handle is growth coach growth dash Coach linkedin.com slash growth culture. And so look forward to engaging with everyone. Thanks a lot, Andy.


Andy Paul  43:23  

Yeah. Well, Steve, thank you and look forward to continuing the conversation.


Steve Norman  43:27  

Absolutely. Great to join you today.


Andy Paul  43:32  

Okay, friends, that was accelerated for this week. First of all, as always, I want to thank you for taking the time to join me here and I also want to thank my guest, Steve Norman joining us all the way from Australia. Join me again next week as my guest will be Dale Dupree Dale, whose online persona is the copier where he has a really great perspective on sales. I think you will enjoy it. Make sure you join me then and before you go, don’t forget to Check out the sales house the all in one sales performance accelerator for b2b sellers just like you visit sales house.com so thanks again for joining me. I’m your host Andy Paul. Until next week, good for everyone.


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