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Selling is Easy, Buying is Hard, with Garin Hess [Episode 851]

Garin Hess, founder and CEO of Consensus, is author of the book, Selling is Easy. Buying is Hard: How Buyer Enablement Drives Digital Sales Transformation and Shortens Sales Cycles. In this episode we get into why the lack of alignment between sellers and buyers is one of the biggest impediments to improving sales performance today. Plus we discuss the change of perspective sellers need for success, namely that they don’t close deals, buyers do.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Welcome to the show.

Garin Hess: Thanks, Andy. It’s great to be on the show.

Andy Paul: it’s a pleasure to have you, where are you hanging out these days?

Garin Hess: Yeah. I hail from Saratoga Springs, Utah. We’re just about 20 minutes South of Salt Lake city. And everybody else working from home, I’ve got a beautiful location near what is the largest natural freshwater Lake West of the Mississippi called Utah Lake. And, 

Andy Paul: The largest freshwater Lake. I thought that was Flathead Lake.

Garin Hess: So in terms of surface area and nature, there are reservoirs that are bigger, but, yeah, Utah Lake has the largest surface area. From what I understand. Now you’re making me question my own assumptions. I always have something to brag about here. You’re taking it away from me.

Andy Paul: You asked the wrong person. That thing, my mind is full of useless trivia that surfaces just- 

Garin Hess: Now you’re going to have to look it up and let me know if I’m right or you’re right.

Andy Paul: All right, that’s what the Internet’s for. So-

Garin Hess: That’s right.

Andy Paul: why don’t you sing a song while I do that?

Garin Hess: just a plethora to choose from

Andy Paul: Largest water. Call it the largest freshwater Lake.

Garin Hess: natural, fresh water. 

Andy Paul: Oh, natural. Natural, fresh- compelling radio for people.

Garin Hess: sure. Everyone’s dying to know this.

Andy Paul: That’s the thing about the internet. There’s wow. They have a larger largest,

Garin Hess: They come up with a third option.

Andy Paul: I think we’ll have to come back to that one. they’re not being very cooperative. All right. Maybe my trusted producer can, if he’s listening, look that up at the largest freshwater Lake west of the Mississippi. So besides talking about lakes, where we were going to talk about your new book, I know that there’s a connection there, that’s a good segue. So your book Selling is Easy. Buying is Hard. How Buyer Enablement Drives Digital Sales Transformation and Shorten Sales Cycles. That’s almost a book in itself right there.

Garin Hess: That’s right. Yeah. It’s always hard to come up with the subtitle, but wanted to really emphasize the shortening of the sales cycle? But there’s so many principles that can help organizations that are moving to a digital strategy, which really we had this all worked out long before the Corona virus hit, but now of course, all organizations have by force of nature, moved to a digital selling strategy are still trying to get there. So I think it turned out to be pretty timely.

Andy Paul: So, I like, I forget where in the book this was, but my buyer’s closed deals. As opposed to “I close deals,” which you know, that whole sentiment is anathema to most sellers. And certainly the way we train them. But it’s, to me in my mind, that’s a real mindset shift we should try to incorporate into sales.

Garin Hess: Yeah. I literally have seen people wear these t-shirts “I Close Deals.” Which, yeah, I like the confident nature of them, but it is really an arrogant position in a lot of ways because, and an impossibility, because they can’t close the deal. They cannot sign the contract on behalf of the customer. And granted, there are many techniques of course, and strategies to try to get to that closing moment. And I’m not trying to downplay those, but I’m trying to emphasize the fact that the reality is that the only way to close a B2B sale is to discover and engage the buying group. And get them in alignment. And one of them are more of one or more of them is going to sign the contract. You ultimately have very little to do with it. They have a lot of jobs that they have to get done, meaning tasks that they have to do to make a purchase decision. And your only role really is to facilitate. You need to become an expert at what those tasks are, anticipate them before they come up and facilitate that. And I would argue in a lot of ways that B2B sales in its entirety is simply facilitating that buying group and the different stakeholders there.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I, as I read the book, I caught that and we’ll talk about that. I’m not trying to go that far, but I think there’s a lot to agree with that. To your first point about closing, yeah. This has been a bugaboo of mine for a long time, which is, as I ask people who claim they’re closers. I said, Oh really? So what is, when is the last time you were in the room when the buyer made the purchase decision?

Garin Hess: Yeah.

Andy Paul: Dead silence. Crickets. You weren’t there. So this whole myth of a closer, maybe if you’re an insurance sales, car sales, there are certain areas of sales where, people do make decisions right in front of you, not so much in business to business sales.

Garin Hess: Yeah. Yeah. In fact, Gartner has this research that shows that buyers are spending only 17% of their time with the vendor. And there are, the vendors, plural, and they’re

Andy Paul: I’m surprised it’s that much.

Garin Hess: During their purchasing decision process. And I’m sorry.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I said, I think that I’m surprised it’s that much, right? I think that, It’d be interesting to see what they include with that? Do they include reading the emails from people reading the content they’re provided in that 17%? Then maybe we can start getting in the ballpark, but yeah, the numbers are low regardless of what it is. It’s interesting. That’s why I posted this post on LinkedIn yesterday about taking a jab at this whole idea that all these books have been rushed to market on virtual selling and yeah, I made the comment, I said, this is going to be like social selling, which after a while we decided it was just part of selling. And I said, virtual selling salespeople have been doing since the invention of the telephone,

Garin Hess: Yeah,

Andy Paul: They weren’t in person, they’re virtual with the buyer. So for me, good sales behaviors are good sales behaviors, regardless of the medium.

Garin Hess: Yeah, totally agree.

Andy Paul: The medium doesn’t matter. That’s my new hashtag medium doesn’t matter. And yeah, so yeah, the soul 18% thing, and the reason that came up, it was just like, yeah. I spent a good chunk of my career selling very large, very expensive, very complex communication systems for a number of different startups all over the world. And yeah, the first big one I closed, which was with a company in Sweden. I visited once everything else was on the phone and this was a multiple million dollar deal back in the eighties.

Garin Hess: Yeah. I mean, All of the inside sales are virtual to that extent. I think 

Andy Paul: Also it’s never been one thing or th-e other that’s

Garin Hess: Yeah, it’s true.

Andy Paul: I was technically, we were in the field, but we judiciously went to visit the customers when it was important. Otherwise we did it virtually

Garin Hess: Yeah. Yeah. I think the shift that’s happening though, is that you’re spending less time, even though it’s virtual, meaning you’ve been on the telephone or you might be on a, some kind of a web conferencing, the shift that’s happening is they’re wanting to spend less and less time in a live conversation. That’s more asynchronous. So it’s virtual in the sense that you’re not even having a live conversation. So one of the key questions I think today is how to do it asynchronously. Help the buyers do what they need to do and learn what they need to learn and take the actions and work through the tasks they need to, even when you’re not there.

And I think core to that whole thing is you’re typically working with a champion that is doing a lot of that work when you’re not around. And you often don’t get to engage those other stakeholders yourself ever. You might see them on an email chain if you’re lucky. But it’s rare that you get to even talk to them on the phone. Or in a web conference meeting. And that champion has to go out there and be your surrogate self and try to help educate and pitch and bring along the other stakeholders. And then, one of the fundamental questions in buyer enablement is, what is it that they really need, to be successful in that role?

And I think it’s previously been, thought of, it’s not no one’s ever thought of how can I help my champion be successful, but it hasn’t received, enough thorough treatment because I th and I think the reason for that is because the emphasis is on, what do I need to do as a salesperson rather than what does that champion need to do internally?

And, so it goes so far, to underscore this, sales teams. in their forecasting meetings, we’ll talk about things that they’ve done and, rather than what their buyers are doing to forecast a deal, I’ve sent a proposal, I gave a demo, I did all of this and, and I think it’s just.

At the core of buyer enablement, is this just a fundamental shift out of ourselves and into the buyer’s world and into the buyer’s mind and trying to understand that they and their problems are the center of their universe. And if we can somehow, get pulled into their orbit in a way that we are, really deeply aware of what is what’s driving them both intellectually, emotionally, and systemically inside the organization and get inside their mind then, we’ve got a better shot at helping them make the fundamental changes they need to adopt a new solution or a new product.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah, no disagreement on that front at all. So I let’s take a step back though. And that is because I think that, along the lines of what you’re talking about is a helpful construct to think about is, there’s this theory on Clayton Christianson, excuse me, talked about in his book, Innovator’s Dilemma is about this idea of jobs to be done. And certainly it’s been written about a lot of other places. Is it that the act of a buyer making a purchase decision is a job they need to get done, or we’ll talk about it having multiple components to it, but to some degree they’re hiring you as a seller to help them get that job done. I think it’s a, I think it’s a good way for people to look at it and then. The next step then is, what is this job they’re trying to get done? And for me, I think, they’re trying to, and this was come from a couple sources, but I think it makes a lot of sense is that they’re trying to, what your buyers fundamentally are trying to do is they’re trying to quickly gather the information they need to make a good decision with the least investment of time, money and resources possible.

Garin Hess: Yeah. And I think that’s a very high level. And then if you start breaking that down, they have to do some core sort of milestone tasks. And in each of those, they’ve got sometimes dozens of smaller tasks they have to accomplish and I think one of the keys to being successful at helping them is realizing that they don’t know what those tasks are, a lot of times, most of the time. They often think they do but it’s quite often because they haven’t ever purchased your type of software or your type of service that they don’t really know exactly how they need to go through that. What those tasks are and how to go through that. And, I often hear salespeople, and I used to say this a lot myself, and I’m still tempted to, from time to time, what do you think the next steps are? What is the best next step? And ask the client. And I’m not saying it’s a hundred percent illegal to say that kind of question to ask that kind of question, but it’s so much better to have deep experience in the buying process and then say, Hey, here’s where we’ve been. This is where you want to go. And if, this is what the recommended next step is. What do you think about that? Does that sound good to you? And if, and a lot of times the buyers, they’ll chime in with other nuances, but they appreciate the confident leadership that a buying coach might bring to the process. and it builds trust and confidence. And getting their tasks done, ultimately.

Andy Paul: Yeah, getting those tasks done, or we’re going to dig into some of those tasks, but I agree. it’s a different mindset for sellers, as you said, it’s not about closing a deal. It’s not about getting an order. It’s about, as I say, anything else, sales is fundamentally about helping your buyer make a purchase decision and that’s, that should be your motivating, your motivator, your personal motivator as you go forth every day is how can I help my buyer make a purchase decision. Obviously it’s going to lead down the path of the buyer enabling you to talk about, but it’s a different mind, completely different mindset than I’m here to make quota. 

Garin Hess: Yeah, exactly. and I think even to take it a step further, it’s helping the buyer make the change, facilitate the change in their own organization that they want with the purchase. So behind the purchase is some larger objective. There are lots of reasons, but yeah, they have to make that purchase in order to achieve that. And, and so the more we get behind, whatever that objective is, can, is really where I think a lot of the, or the alignment can come, if we can see past the close to the overall objective that they have personally. And as an organization.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I think I agree. I just part of it, so you read, I spend a lot of time writing books and yeah. Being involved in sales for a long time is that yeah, for me, it’s like, Hey, let’s simplify it as much as possible. Be as let’s understand, there are lots of small moments or small steps involved in this and that.

Yeah, it’s great to say, look, buyer’s really looking forward to what they can achieve using the product and service they bought. But for me, that’s like a whole separate process. That’s a separate job. And really, as a seller, I want to focus on this first job, which is helping them make that decision.

Garin Hess: Yep.

Andy Paul: Because, yeah, there’s an implementation part of it and so on, but that’s not my responsibility, these days less and less dumping on the organization, but we’re going to take that into account. But the first and foremost is I have to be able to help them make that decision. and I, what gets to me sometimes when I’m reading about.

Buyer enablement and not in your book necessarily, but it’s there’s sort of an assumption that a lot of that process is to get them to, agree to buy what we’re selling, as opposed to just helping them decide what the problem is that they’re trying to solve. What are their options for solving it and helping them make that choice that ultimately is us as the vendor, as the way it, the path they want to use to solve it.

Garin Hess: Yeah, I agree. And I think what’s ironic about that aspect in B2B sales is the more we want the deal. And the more we focus on getting the deal, the less effective we are at getting the deal. And the more we focus on not getting the deal, but rather. Helping the buyer get where they want to go and make an effective decision.

The more likely we will be to get the deal because it builds so much trust. And, it’s one of those integrity issues. Like all integrity issues in my opinion seem scary sometimes because they, you might be afraid it’s going to cost you, but in reality, it ends up benefiting you.

And, and at the core of it is one of those key decisions that we have to make just internally that we’re not going to try to bring out a bad customer and this is not necessarily. By our enablement specifically, but just it’s really, if we focus on what those buyers’ needs are and try to help them achieve that, then there’s a possibility that our solution isn’t the right solution for them.

But as we guide them through that and with a, with an authentic. Perspective, through those decisions and tasks, then it increases so much trust that you’re just much more likely to get that purchase anyway. So it’s a bit of a paradox because you feel like if I don’t concentrate on what I need, I’m not going to get what I need, but in reality, that’s the least effective way to get what you need.

Andy Paul: but it’s true.

Garin Hess: It’s yeah.

Andy Paul: the thing is we support that, unfortunately the bad side of that in the way we hire. So for instance, let’s just start with the hire and train as, and. In some cases, enabling sellers is, Hey, look, let’s look at the typical job description. What are the attributes we want this sales person to have and just, painting and our broad brush strokes.

We talk about Hunter closer extroverts and not every company that does this. That’s what we see these, this or the subtext is this in a job description and yeah, I’ll ask hiring managers, I’ll say, Hang on just a second. So here’s what you’re sinking thinking you need. So now rewrite this job description from the perspective of what the buyer needs from you in order to make their decision.

Garin Hess: Yeah. I love that. 

Andy Paul: And it’s talking in a different language.

Garin Hess: yeah. 

Andy Paul: But that’s the thing is, yeah. I’ve may have heard me say it, use this expression and post online before I send, the one what’s the one question a customer will never ask you. They’ll never ask you to be more salesy.

Garin Hess: So true. Yeah. Yeah. Nobody wants to be sold to, they want to be educated.

Andy Paul: Yeah.

Garin Hess: led and guided through the process, because if it’s uncomfortable for them, which it usually is, yeah, I liken it just to a simple go walk into the furniture store. You just. if the person that approaches you, you believe they were really going to be helpful rather than trying to sell you, then you wouldn’t avoid them.

But most of the time you want to avoid that person that tried to approach it in the furniture store. As soon as you walk through the door, because you’re going to get sold to rather than a guided

Andy Paul: Unfortunately. Yeah. But when you find the people that don’t, then that’s always such a refreshing experience, but I, and that speaks directly to something you wrote about in the book, which is, yeah. Buyers will usually buy from those vendors who make their buying experience easier and more enjoyable.

And. Yeah, but the thing is back in the challenger sale, didn’t it? Wasn’t the stat in the challenger sale. 53% of the purchase decision criteria is based on the buying experience itself.

Garin Hess: Yeah, something like that.

Andy Paul: Yeah. So we’re already at that point, majority when I think it’s probably even become more so in the year, subsequent to this is the buying experiences, the critical most decisive factor in getting the deal

Garin Hess: Yes. Yeah. And I think about why do we buy from Amazon? Amazon is fundamentally turning the retail buying experience upside down. And the reason I’ve been so successful and you could argue that there are lots of different reasons, but I would say that the main strategic reason they’re successful is because they’ve made.

Retail buying is so easy. It’s so easy that even if you can get the same thing for the same price or even a cheaper price from somewhere else, just say something’s $10 cheaper. A lot of times you’ll still buy it through Amazon because all you gotta do is go in and click a couple buttons. And it shows up in a couple of days.

And I think that’s the problem that ultimately I’m trying to solve as a. As a professional in the B2B sales or B2B buying space, how do we make buying easier? Because, both from a technology standpoint and from a process standpoint, if we can make it easier, those vendors that make it easier will.

Get more sales. And ultimately it comes for me from a position of frustration because buying other B2B items, like software is incredibly frustrating and it just bothers me that it’s still so difficult. there’s one graphic, speaking of Gartner that they have, where they say in this buyer enablement.

Paper they have where they say, we think that this process is a linear process, but it’s not. It’s this big tangled spaghetti mess.

Andy Paul: write the spaghetti diagram. I talk about it often.

Garin Hess: Yeah. And it’s that it shouldn’t have to be that way. A lot of those tasks are still going to have to happen, but the vendors that figure out how to make those tasks as simple as possible and help lay out.

The journey as simply as possible, and then lead with authority and persistence, but polite authority, are going to win so much more often than those that just keep doing things the same old way.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And that diagram, I think it’s always so interesting and people can find it online. The Gartner buyer, enablement, buyer journey diagram, and I’ve shared it on social many times is that. Implicit in that is, I believe is the spot that basically in the minds of a lot of buyers’ sales, doesn’t add much value to this process because if you look in this complex, densely, detailed diagram of a buyer’s journey, the word sales shows up once.

Garin Hess: Right.

Andy Paul: Yeah, that’s on us. And I think that’s partially because the way we are training and orienting people based on people we hire and what we tell them their task is something that’s just not very viable to most buyers. So in that diagram, we talk about these sub tasks, the four tasks for jobs that buyers need to get done.

And I think my experience selling to large enterprises has been exactly. That is the first job I got. Define the problem, identify the problem, explore possible solutions to the next one. Third one is define your requirement, what it is you’re going to do and how you’re gonna solve the problem.

The fourth one is who you’re gonna solve it with. Choose a vendor. And I think that the way that we train sellers and orient our sellers is we have them focused on the last job, which is selecting a vendor. Whereas the winning path is to help. The buyer has to accomplish all four of those jobs.

Garin Hess: That’s right. And I think that keyword that you mentioned is just helping them. The goal of the sales person is really a service oriented profession where you’re trying to help them get through these different tasks and all the way through from those early stages. and from the organizational standpoint, sometimes the sellers don’t get involved.

As early, right? There’s all that evidence that buyers are spending more and more time before they engage with sales. But the smart organizations will proactively try to insert this the sellers or, as we re title them, buying coaches, to earlier in the process.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. but it’s, I think this is such a big dividing line in sales, is that yeah, I, we are telling people that in training people, that your job is to persuade somebody, to buy your product and. First of all, there’s a new book out. It was released in spring, but I think this is going to rerelease it in the fall by a professor from Wharton, Jonah Berger.

And who’s interviewed for the show and in the book he says, yeah, the research is pretty clear. People have a persuasion resistance. Okay. So if your de facto emo is I’m going to train you how to be a persuasive seller. What we’re saying is we’re going to train you to act in a way that the buyers resist

Garin Hess: up. Here’s how you get the walls to go up.

Andy Paul: And how many books are out there saying the persuasive sell or the persuasive that, and the thing is when you look up the definition of persuasion and persuasion is yeah. It’s a little bit of chorus right. it’s.

Garin Hess: can be

Andy Paul: Yeah. Whereas I think our job is really too. And B2B sales, especially in the enterprise spaces.

Our job is to influence that outcome of that process that the buyer’s going through.

Garin Hess: right.

Andy Paul: different way of orienting yourself to you’re trying to help them get their job done.

Garin Hess: It is. And I think one of the fundamental mind shifts that I want my readers and our customers to go through is that. The buyers are actually in charge of the selling because they have to go out and sell the platform to all the other stakeholders. And your goal is really just to help them be the best salesperson inside the organization that they can be.

and you, as the seller are in charge of the buying, because you’re the only person who has been you and your collective intelligence, your hive, mind. It has been through hundreds, maybe thousands or tens of thousands of buying journeys with these buyers. And you have that collective intelligence that your buyer isn’t aware of.

they don’t know that whole journey. They don’t know those tasks and steps. And so you’ve got to be in charge of the buying process and guide them through it. the strange thing is the sellers and the buyers aren’t really aware of that unless. Unless the seller is aware of it, and then it can educate the buyer.

And the buyer often thinks that they know exactly what needs to happen. And inevitably, and you’ve probably seen this, hundreds of times where the buyer tells you, Oh yeah, we can get this done. Or, I’m the decision maker, or we don’t need to get legal or it involved. We can just sign this service order or whatever it may be that they say.

And, an inexperienced salesperson will say, Oh, this is great. when in reality, from your own experience that 99% of the time, this is not going to work out well, but the buyer doesn’t know that. And if you’re really, an effective at buyer enablement, you’re going to say, Thanks for sharing that with me, what I’ve seen in organizations like yours is that it’s almost always like this.

Would it be all right if we, with you, if we go down this path and get this stakeholder involved and get, and just verify that this isn’t needed at your organization, because otherwise it’s going to come back to bite us. And so it’s really this shift of the sales person in charge of the buying and the buyer’s in charge of the selling.

And if you make that shift as your fundamental emo, in terms of how you approach. Going after the purchase decision, which I like calling it a purchase decision rather than a deal or a sale. then you are more likely to do the things that they need to be successful. and then they’ll come back and you’ll get your deal done.

Andy Paul: I agree. And I love the way you put that is I think that, along with that is this requirement to call influence versus persuasion. This is that if you’re able to influence. How they look at the problem. They have to solve the choices, the options they gather to put together what they’re going to choose from, right?

Because this is the way decision making works. As you know if you decide whether you make a change or not, preliminarily, you have to identify your problem. You put together options for solving the problem. You choose. One of the options you go out for bid, or didn’t go out and talk to salespeople is. If she had tried to get somebody to sell internally, if you’re trying to get them to repeat a story, you’ve told them that’s, comes from the motivation of persuasion, as opposed to helping create what their story is through how you’re influencing the choices and options they have for solving the problems.

Huge difference. They’ll remember the one that they. Collaborated with you on creating

Garin Hess: Yes.

Andy Paul: they’ll have a stake of ownership in it. And this has been written about not just me, other people have written about this, as opposed to trying to remember your sales pitch, to repeat to their colleagues, their stakeholder friends.

So having this, again, this change mindset is, and this is, I get in trouble and, people have written these good books about storytelling and, X number of stories need to be able to tell every salesperson needs to be. I’ll tell them, I say, you only need to be able to tell one story and that’s the customer story,

Garin Hess: Yeah, I was going to say the one that matters to that customer

Andy Paul: It’s their story. It’s the vision of how they’re gonna, how they’re gonna solve this problem and the value they’re gonna drive from having done that. And if you tell that story, that’s a story to your point that your champion can retell easily inside because they helped create it.

Garin Hess: Yeah, it’s true. and I use this analogy of coaching because I think it works well. There’s a lot of corollaries with sports teams and players and how you need the right team to get things done and so on. And. And I loved how you mentioned collaborating, because it really is a collaborative process between you and your champion.

And sometimes multiple champions that have to go to get things to happen and make progress. and we put so much stock in these champions and yet they haven’t been through your internal sales training. They have barely known your solution. they talked to you for two or three hours.

And then all of a sudden they want to go tell the world inside the organization and they, yeah, they tend to really do a poor job of it. Not because they’re not enthusiastic, but because they’re brand new salespeople without even a sales background necessarily. And they’re out there selling your product internally and.

And it is one of the most challenging aspects of B2B sales when you’ve got an enthusiastic champion. It’s great. On the one hand. And on the other hand, if you don’t know how to equip and help them effectively, you’re just, you’re setting them up to fail.

Andy Paul: yeah, but that’s back to the point though, is that what you want them to sell is the vision of what it’s going to be. But if you’re having them trying to sell features and benefits, it’s not going to happen. not going to be satisfied with that, but if they have to tell a story about, look, these guys have this great platform we can accomplish.

These things have been high on our priority list using it. And we think we’ll get a payback in 12 months. That’s an easy story to tell you don’t need, Dolan’s going to ask you well, how does that feature work? How does this feature work?

Garin Hess: Yep. Yeah, it’s it. It’s helping them help you get inside of their head and helping them tell the story about their vision, their future with you in it. and what it looks like with you in their future rather than your story. So I like how you put it’s their story. that is the one that matters to them.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Y yeah. Yeah. This is a great topic because, buyer, enablement, I think it’s the right book at the right time because it’s. just been a huge believer as you notice from this conversation. Yeah. It is about them. It’s about them making a decision, it’s about how we can help them.

Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny, I would, we talked about this gardener diagram. Yeah. The spaghetti diagram about the buyer’s journey and how it’s not a linear process and yeah. On the show and other places have hundreds of conversations a year with senior sales leaders. And it’s always okay.

So how have you adapted your selling process to reflect this buyer enablement journey? Those outlined by Gartner

Garin Hess: Yeah. Yeah. And I think

Andy Paul: is we

Garin Hess: we haven’t done much. Yeah, exactly. And I think it comes down to just practicality, which is what I try to deliver in this book is just, how do you actually do this? how do you enable the buyers at different stages of the journey with the right kinds of. Of things because, you can’t just overload them with everything at once, which is a mistake that a lot of sales teams do or salespeople, but, and going back to your point about vision selling the vision, that’s really important at the beginning, but they also have to go back and sell the implementation.

They’ve got to sell the integrations, they’ve got to sell. others, but at first it’s just about the vision. And so it’s really important as the buying coach to understand at the beginning, What do they have to educate the other stakeholders on about the early stages versus middle and late stages, and then be really knowledgeable about what they need, what materials you have, what assets you have, that they can use to do that effectively.

and that’s a lot of what buyer enablement is about is really. Trying to categorize, at least setting the groundwork for buyer enablement is categorizing the job AIDS. You might say that you have to give to the buyer at the right stages of. Of the buying journey. And one of the things I talk about as an example in the book is, as our software company is focused on demo automation and a lot of sales engineers, for example, think of the demo as just the big technical demo.

And we actually identify that there are many different types of demos. The buyers need at different stages of the buying journey. There’s the vision demo. Then they get what may be called a micro demo, which is more product oriented, but still the vision stage. Then they go and do the standard demo and then they might, at that point, be ready for a deeper dive in, in person Technical demo from sales engineer. And there are these closing demos where they’re just trying to decide, or they’re trying to de-risk. So they’re asking questions about just implementation and GDPR and other things, and then all throughout there, they’re these, it just, w what I call FAQ demos. And so I think whether it’s a, an automated video demo or a PDF or a deck or whatever the asset might be.

It’s critical to understand where it belongs in that buying process. and if you can, and the best buying coaches, the salespeople that understand that and get the right information at the right times to the buying champion, I’ve seen, just tend to win more often and it shortens the sales cycle too.

Andy Paul: Yeah, but I think that really started to describe it as is, again, if you go back to the gardener diagram you want the key elements in there is that. Is that various stakeholders enter the process at different times. And so one of the key things I think of a buyer enablement as the buyer coach is being mindful of that.

And to your point, if you want to shorten the sales cycle, because you need to make sure that you don’t get these last minute surprises from unknown stakeholders that suddenly materialize that. And yeah, helping your buyer understand from your experience, your deep experience on this, how this is going to unfold.

Garin Hess: Yeah.

Andy Paul: Really

Garin Hess: who needs to get involved?

Andy Paul: Yeah. Who needs to get involved when so on? Because yeah. You don’t want to, yeah. Somebody from it that you’re lucky showing up just on your thought. Hey, we’re in the, we’re in the presentation stage. man, no, this guy has got a big say in it and he’s still at the discovery stage.

Garin Hess: Yeah, that’s right. speaking of last minute, stakeholders, I just thought of an experience that I thought you might find. Interesting. And, in 2015, we were raising our series, a venture funding for consensus, and we had a, a, I will leave them unnamed. A venture firm that had committed to a $10 million round, at a really good valuation.

And I had spun down cause we signed the term sheet. I spent down all the other conversations I asked them, did this pass the investment committee? They said, yes. we signed the term sheet, for 90 days, I think it was, we had 90 days to close and we’re running out of cash because we’re in growth mode and I’m just timing this up, to have maybe two or three weeks worth of cash left.

By the time we closed this round. And, three days before. We closed the deal. I’m in Las Vegas at a convention, and I’m supposed to go on stage in about an hour. And I got a call from the main VC that I was working with. And, he says, we got to talk. I said, what’s going on? He says, just call me.

So I said, okay. So I went up to my hotel room, called him and he said, we’re not going to do the deal. And we were in red lines at that point. And we were picking, we’re picking over, does this word or that word? We’re three days away from the close. And they said they were backing out and I said, what’s going on?

And he said, one of the LPs, the limited partners in the fund, doesn’t like it. And I said, I thought you said it got past the investment committee. And he said, it did, but this LP wasn’t available at the time. And he represents his investments, representing more than half of our $350 million fund. And so he was not available for the last two months or two and a half months or whatever. And, and so now he just barely got his eyes on the deal and he doesn’t like it. And I said, you mean, you’re going to let this one guy nix this whole, this $10 million investment. And they, and they said, yeah, unfortunately our hands are tied.

I just thought, Oh my gosh. And I, it’s not exactly the typical, this, the B2B, it wasn’t a typical B2B sale, but it was the classic stakeholder popping up at the last minute. And I thought I had, I knew enough about fundraising that I had. I had checked off all the boxes, but. The reality was, there’s more to learn.

I learned it the hard way.

Andy Paul: Oh, yeah. I think we all have stories like that. if you, I’ve got one I’ve told before about, big deal. at the time, and this was, we were selling a satellite system and was gonna be the first digital backbone for a nationwide digital distribution to radio stations.

And so it was a huge media company and we were trying to unseat the incumbent and. Yeah, we thought we had done it. And everybody that we talked to said we had done it. Yeah. There was that one person we probably should have. we didn’t know. We were supposed to have talked to each other and we’d uncovered that person and no.

They decided they wanted to stay with the incumbent and yeah, it was crushing. Cause I was embarrassed, I had forecasted the board and yeah, there was. We should have known, but we didn’t.

Garin Hess: Yeah. That’s the thing

Andy Paul: we should have known.

Garin Hess: And this is why I think it’s really important. individually you may not know in an organization. but it’s, I think it’s really important to get. The team together, especially your most experienced reps that have done a lot of closes in complex environments.

And, and try to map out what this process looks like? Who are the stakeholders almost always get involved and you can. Say with a surety that if those stakeholders are not involved, you’ve got risk in the deal. there may be a deal here and there that slips through that pattern matching, but it’s rare.

And, and if you just close your eyes and try to ignore it’s usually going to come back to bite you. And I even go so far sometimes as to tell champions that I work with. Cause I, even though I’ve got a sales team that does the majority of our sales, I always like to. Have my hand in three or four

stay close to the go to market strategy.

And I will even say to some of my champions, here are the people we’ve got to get involved to get this done and be effective because we’re not only trying to get this decision made, but we’ve got to set up for a good implementation, which leads to good adoption renewal later. and if they balk at that and they’re not.

Willing to go out and get those people. I sometimes will say, you know what? we’re not really able to move forward unless we can get these roles involved because here’s what happens if they don’t get involved in our case, that’s one of them is a sales leader, for example, cause we sell first into pre-sales into sales engineering because they’re the ones building the interactive video demos that are used by sales.

But if they won’t go out and get the sales leader, that’s going to end up having their teams use the platform involved. we pretty much put the brakes on the conversation until they’re willing to do that because, without those sales leaders, the adoption typically falls flat. Even if they make a decision.

And a lot of times they’ll nix the deal before the pre-sales leader doesn’t know this, but the sales leader will get a whiff of it and say, Hey, how come I wasn’t consulted? And all of a sudden they take an adversarial position. And, and so it’s one of those things where. If you’re confident enough and that’s, again, the hive mind, get everybody together, share the knowledge, put this process together.

So you can lean on the experience of your whole team. But if you’re confident enough, it actually, this whole process builds trust. Because if you’re telling the buyer from our experience, this is what these are the challenges you’re gonna run into. They don’t want to run into these problems. they take a lot of risks to implement your solution, bringing your solution to their organization.

And, and if you’re telling them here’s the whitewater Rapids and here’s the quick sand and all of that really helps them a lot. But again, counterintuitively, sometimes as salespeople, we don’t wanna, we don’t want to be. Maybe too abrupt or direct, we feel like we’re being too forceful if we insist on certain things and yet we’re really the ones that need to ensure that the buying process ends safely, successfully.

Andy Paul: Safely too. I

Garin Hess: and I,

Andy Paul: I think you’re right. so yes. it’s the right approach to say. Yeah. Perhaps you’re just not ready to move forward at this time without the, if we can’t get this information

Garin Hess: Here are the stakeholders involved or 

Andy Paul: I think I had a really interesting way for sellers to look at this and is a couple years ago, came up with this, acronym for the four jobs you need to accomplish on every interaction with, with a buyer and an acronym was bald BALD, which is, be human ask, great questions, listen, to understand, deliver good value.

And. And the thing is that most people look at that and say, okay, that’s always about discovering their needs. discovery is not just about their requirements and their needs. That’s about yours as well. It’s about them. How do they buy? Who’s involved with this decision, all these other things, how are they gonna implement this?

How are we going to integrate with their existing systems? That’s all discovery. And you can never know enough about that. So that’s why every time you interact with a buyer, you have to have a discovery component in there and you need to understand more fully every time you interact with a buyer on all these dimensions.

And I think the thing that is implicit in what you’re saying, but I think, we’ll make it really clear to people listening is that one of the greatest sources of value too. To a buyer and Gardner talks about this and their research too, is progress. They’ve got this job they’re trying to get done. And if you have an interaction with them that as a result of that interaction, they’re not some measure closer to being able to make their purchase decision. Then arguably there was no value for them in that interaction. And so helping them understand how to effectively buy this product. That’s a source of real value for buyers.

Garin Hess: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it was you and our interaction. We had a year and a half ago or so, that was talking about bringing value to every conversation where every conversation that you have needs to have a return on investment, basically for the time they invest in the conversation. I loved that idea.

and it really helps to think about how to set up a specific conversation and. And I like how you tie this idea of value or return on investment in a conversation to making progress towards a buying decision, because ultimately that’s what everybody wants. and one of the things I’ve been trying to get my own team to do, more religiously you might say, or more consistently as, is inviting the buyers to make specific commitments, in every conversation, because the commitments are what drive the value, right?

The drive, the progress. And it could be a commitment to make a decision by a certain date. It could be a commitment to go share an attractive video demo with some other stakeholders or to, whatever it might be there, hundreds of different types of things, depending on where they are. but.

That’s one of the, ways to bring, to know that your conversation or that moment in the buyer’s journey has value to the buyer is if they’re willing to make a commitment, if they aren’t willing to make that commitment, you haven’t provided enough value in that moment. I think.

Andy Paul: Yeah, everything in sales is an exchange. We’re not, it’s not a one-way thing, right? It’s not like we’re just giving you something of value. No, I’m giving you value. What are you getting me for in return? You gave me time. I’m giving you value in return for getting that value.

What are you giving me? And so your plan for every call, every interaction should be, I. As based on what’s happened previously, this is what I, this is the value I plan to deliver during this interaction. And these are the commitments. The customer’s going to make an exchange for receiving it.

Garin Hess: Yep. Yeah. And you do that consistently in every call and you’ll see traction go through the roof and sales cycle shorten. And, I think one of the things that people overlook is that you have to map out what those tasks are. The commitments are for different roles in the buying group.

So a lot of times we just think of what I want my champion to do, but. There are many different roles that end up, playing a part. and we often don’t give them enough attention in terms of really understanding what those other roles have to do? And how do we influence them doing that?

A lot of times, again, we don’t have access to those stakeholders, those, the champion, and. And on a side note, one of the things I talk about in the book is how to truly identify a champion and that. The most consistent way is just do they follow through on their commitments? One, will they commit first and two, do they follow through if they don’t follow through, you don’t really have a champion.

and one of the things that they have to do is go commit other people in the stakeholder groups to get things done. it’s that detailed understanding of the buying process and what roles are taking those actions that then drive the whole journey.

Andy Paul: I think the other thing to that point, which I think is a great point is that, we have this, the S. Misperception, I think in general and sales that because we have more stakeholders involved that there’s more of a consensus involved in this decision. And theoretically I think that’s the case.

I think real life. Is that anytime you get a group of people together, some,

Garin Hess: a consensus.

Andy Paul: some people are more dominant than others. Steve Martin, professor at USC, did some research on this . There is a bully, so to speak, quote, unquote, a bully and yeah, you. You need to know where your champion sits in relation to that bullying and whether you need that bully as your champion.

And there may be more than one, but the fact is if there’s 12 people involved in making a decision, 12 stakeholders involved in a decision and your champion is timid and self-effacing, and doesn’t speak up in meetings, then you’ve got a problem.

Garin Hess: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, that would be another great example of what, what is a champion, right? Can they go out and speak up, speak out and, and then what do you do if you, what do you do if you get that bully stakeholder in their eye? There’s a, I don’t know if we have time for this, but there’s a little story I tell in a book from one of our investors named Adam Slavic.

and he used to work for a large, large, database company back in the nineties. And there was, I think that. $30 million deal on the line and the salesperson. I think there were three people making a decision and the sales, and they had to have unanimity to make the decision. And two were in favor and one was vehemently opposed.

And they can get past that bully basically. And, so what the salesperson did was he hired a recruiting company to recruit that person away from the buyer or the customer, which I thought was, it’s a little extreme, but 

Andy Paul: I love it.

Garin Hess: I love taking control of the deal. 

Andy Paul: That is initiative. I love

Garin Hess: Yeah. And they got him hired away. He spent like $80,000. paying the recruiter to get this person hired away, and then got their, $30 million close when the new person just came on and went along with the two senior people.

Andy Paul: Nice. All right, everybody take a lesson.

Garin Hess: Yeah, we can always do that, but I love the Moxie and the attitude and the stance behind that, right?

Andy Paul: Oh yeah. I’ve done the other. I’ve tried to get a stakeholder fired though. Standing in the way.

Garin Hess: I guess that’s another way to do it.

Andy Paul: Yeah.

Garin Hess: I thought you were going to say you drove to the stakeholders house and did something on tour.

Andy Paul: There’s similar stories, but no, nothing, it was forced once by a boss to call a key stakeholder. We were waiting for an order from this company and, forced to call somebody at 8:00 PM on Christmas Eve at his house.

Garin Hess: Oh, my gosh. Are you serious?

Andy Paul: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Garin Hess: Oh my goodness.

Andy Paul: I was just slightly less unhappy than the buyer.

Garin Hess: Oh, I bet.

Andy Paul: Yeah. 

Garin Hess: my

Andy Paul: we did get the deal, but, the relationship was never the

Garin Hess: Bad money.

Andy Paul: Yeah. alright, Garin, great way to end good stories. How one lasts. Point out to me why we were talking. Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater Lake West of the Mississippi 200 square miles of water and 185 miles of shoreline.


Garin Hess: square miles of water. So how many square miles are there in Utah Lake?

Andy Paul: I didn’t look that up. You’re on your own on that one.

Garin Hess: Okay. I’m gonna have to look that up, but, thanks for the correction on that. Now I’ll have to say it’s the second largest. It’s still a beautiful Lake.

Andy Paul: I’m. okay. So Darren, for people want to learn more about what you guys are doing at consensus and learn more about your book. How can they connect with you?

Garin Hess: Yeah. So if you want to learn about our intelligent demo automation software, you can go to go consensus.com and read more about the book. Selling is hard. Buying is harder. Just going to Amazon is the best place to look for.

Andy Paul: Perfect Garren as always a pleasure. Thanks for joining me.

Garin Hess: Likewise. Thanks, Andy. Good talking to you.