Dan Gottlieb is a Senior Analyst for TOPO, a sales and marketing advisory firm that is now part of Gartner.
Today, he shares TOPO’s recommendations for how you should adjust your sales messaging for the COVID-19 era.
We’ll dig into why your messaging during this time requires NUANCE, EMPATHY, VALUE, AND OFFERS.
Given that the buyer is confronting a new reality, and is in changed circumstances, what is now the compelling business problem that they have to solve?
And how do you start the conversations to identify them.
Andy Paul: Dan, welcome to the show.
Dan Gottlieb: Thanks for having me.
Andy Paul: pleasure. So, where are you sheltering
Dan Gottlieb: I am sheltered in San Francisco in the city, about three blocks away from golden gate park.
Andy Paul: now? Do you get out to the park and walk these days or
Dan Gottlieb: I I do. I do. I do brave the outdoors, as on a beautiful sunshiny afternoon, sometimes I do an excellent job of keeping my distance walking in the middle of the field, not on the sidewalk. So I just need that vitamin D sometimes and a breath of fresh air. I will say those are my favorite parts of my day. Sometimes.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. So I’ve, I’ve been inside for almost two weeks now, other than a grocery run to Trader Joe’s two weeks ago. But I think we’re going again tomorrow because Mother’s Hubbard cupboard is getting pretty bare. Yeah. I was one of these days. I really wish I had a balcony. You know, it’s, it’s a, unfortunately in our building, there are no balconies or terraces as they stay here in New York. So, yeah. Yeah. But it’s, the streets are empty. I don’t know what the city San Francisco,
Dan Gottlieb: My wife will, my wife will go. So one of the, the city community college buildings is just, right around another block and it’s completely empty. And my wife will take a lounge chair. She’s like one of those just classic camp chairs. And she’ll just go sit outside on the sidewalk and read sometimes mask on like full on like, yeah, just to, just to not be inside sometimes on a beautiful afternoon.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I find, I think I’m on my third iteration of masks. I’m trying to decide what to wear when I go out know I’ve got the bandana now they said it bananas, bandanas and all good and ordered some face masks and other things. It’s like, whatever.
Dan Gottlieb: It’s a new wave of fashion, right? Maybe that I can be the next thing that we go into the adults, the next wave of fashion.
Andy Paul: Right. And you may be right though, but here’s the thing. Think about it. So we’re, I was having this conversation somebody else this morning is okay. Let’s say it’s okay. Fly, fly again. Would you? But if you do, would you think, well, yeah, maybe I should mask up. Maybe I should glove up. Right. I mean, how, how, how long is it gonna have to take till we all feel comfortable to go out in public without that
Dan Gottlieb: I definitely think I’m going to be rethinking. Do I have to travel? For this half day workshop, for this event. I mean, from a culture, you know, I think you’re gonna see a lot of people. It’s going to be a lot harder. They’re the more cavalier foe, the folks that had a hard time staying inside anyways, they’re going to be ready to plow right back outside. Right. They’re going to be that, but, but, but you know, a lot of us, I even just like standing next to people in line at the grocery store, you know, I think that’s going to be an adjustment. Like, are we ready to get a yard apart? Let alone. Right next to each other.
Andy Paul: Well, I mean, you’ve lived in New York, so you’re familiar with, what I’m about to say is, is, you know, my wife and I are out for a walk a couple of weeks ago and you know, being very conscious about social distancing and we’re even not really, even together, it’s just a few feet behind me off to my right.
And we’re just sort of walking and this young woman, we’re going past the entrance to an apartment building as you’re in New York. People just plow out of the apartment buildings, right? Yeah, no, it looks at the oncoming traffic. You just jump out into traffic and she was very lightly traveled at that time, just my wife and I, but she comes out and turns and sees us and she literally jumps in the air. And it was like, Oh, yeah, things have really changed. It’s just like I find myself on one of the sidewalk, you know, people walk by, I turn my back on them.
Dan Gottlieb: Totally my, when we, my wife and I, when we go on a walk, sometimes, you know, she she’ll be like James Bond with her back against the garage door or, you know, down the street, just to make sure that she’s staying away. And, you know, at first I thought to myself, how ridiculous is that? But then I realized like, this is what’s required, you know?
This is, this is what’s required. And I have to get over my, like ha ha. I had a moment where I was like, ah, my insecurity is the reason I’m not staying apart from people. So I got, I immediately put my back against the garage door and was like-
Andy Paul: Well, we-
Dan Gottlieb: I’m I’m with you. This, this is what we got. This is what we do now.
Andy Paul: -we step out into the streets. I mean, and so the other sort of New York oddity, I was laughing about the weekend a couple weeks ago, we were out is, is in Manhattan, for sure, is, is, you know, in front of every business, there’s the metal. Great. It’s the cover, the steps going down to the basement. And there was a customer walking over those things and people steer around them when they’re walking. So you think you’re have six feet on Sunday, but they walk into your lane so they can go around those things because they’re afraid of falling down into the basement. Not that everyone anyone ever has other than somebody in a cartoon sometime, but yeah, we’re all adjusting.
So anyway, well, we’re going to talk about how to adjust your sales messaging for this era, or if not this era for, let’s say whatever, how we define this era is this, you know, during the crisis, as well as post-crisis, what does that look like you need to do. So, I guess I have a first question is era, really the right term. Like-
Dan Gottlieb: Right. Well, how long is an era? You know, I, how do I, how do I get through this month? is, is I think one of the first questions that we’ve got to start much more immediate, but I think that the safe way to look at it is how do I create engagement in this environment? And that’s, that’s I think the question a lot of sellers are trying to figure out the answers to right now, And, you know, everyone has changed. Their life has changed in some way, shape or form.
The degree of which impact of that is, is going to be different, across the, you know, where you are in society, both geographically, socially, economically. It’s going to vary based on the kind of work that you do. That feels like a “yeah, duh” but, you know, I saw a funny, I saw a funny meme. It said there’s only four kinds of employees. Now there’s the mega rich, the zoom users, the frontline heroes and the unemployed. Right. And that freakily resonated.
Andy Paul: No, it really does. Yeah. Yeah.
Dan Gottlieb: Right. And so, so that’s, I think it’s all about making sure you understand what you’re really trying to do here. Right? and, and for us, it’s about helping our clients understand that your goal is now to engage in a relevant way in order to figure out if there’s any way you might ever be able to possibly sell.
Andy Paul: And I think that’s, and I think that’s a perfect summation of it. Right. You, I think that there’s too much within sales of sort of this residual, yeah, macho, bro, Hey, go out and pound calls, just pound calls, you know, we still got to pound calls and it’s like, no, that’s really tone deaf in so many ways.
And I understand you’re playing to a certain audience. But the fact is to your point is that the first thing you have to do is understand where engage, understand where the customer sits. Because there’s very few businesses unless they’re investing to support the transition to work from home, in almost all cases, especially -with people anticipating we’re gonna run into a recession here on the backside of this is everybody’s reevaluating, dollars are tight companies. I’ve spoken to a number of companies. “Yeah. We’re we’re, we’re not sure what we’re doing right now, so we’re not gonna do anything for the meantime, until we start figuring out what’s happening.”
Dan Gottlieb: That’s right. We’ve seen several clients. We work with a lot of different sales tech vendors and, you know, MarTech vendors. And they’re telling us that they have never seen so many CFOs CIO, CROS, intervening at the end of the sales process lately at the end of this last quarter, and in some cases, completely punting, completely pausing or having to, you know, this extra hurdle at the end to decide whether or not this is actually something we should be working on right now. So yeah, that’s, that’s just a tiny little snapshot of what’s changing,
Andy Paul: Yeah. And I think even with those people think that they’ve got something that needs to be fixed is in a strategy that I recommend. But you see companies doing anyway. It’s like, yeah, look, we are going to order some, put in an orders, be for a hundred seats. Now we really need 10. Right now.
Dan Gottlieb: Right.
Andy Paul: this 10 that are really crucial. Let’s do the 10. We’re going to defer the rest.
Dan Gottlieb: Exactly.
Andy Paul: But if you, but if you don’t engage in the right way upfront, you’re going to lose that opportunity. So, you talking in, you’re giving me some material about this as is, but really going through this exercise, which I think is really useful of creating that messaging.
Because I think a lot of times it’s somebody who’s written books and sort of writes for a living with a blog and so on is that you want to clarify you’re thinking and you want to be able to say, okay, does this look right? Does it sound right? Is you put it down on paper?
Dan Gottlieb: Exactly. And there’s this unspoken reality amongst a lot of sellers right now, where they’re just uncomfortable with the tools they have and the training that they have approaching and selling the way that they’re used to. I mean, there’s just, you know, it’s just, it’s just discomfort, awkwardness.
I don’t want to do this right now. And they’re, they’re experienced in that, you know, especially inside sales teams that are used to doing this in bullpens, they get energy from each other, but now at home, by themselves having to experience this right.
Andy Paul: Oh yeah. And they’re having to be to a point you bring up, when you talk about doing this exercise is they’re having to have a level of empathy that, quite frankly, but they’ve never had to show before. And it’s really it’s key. And we talk about empathy a lot in sales, it’s a cliche and a lip service more than anything. Most people think that if they’re given a persona by marketing of their client, they understand that person therefore have empathy for them, which they don’t.
But we’re in this unique situation though, where if you, if you. Understand that empathy is really about understanding why someone feels the way they do. You’ve never had more common ground with somebody than at any other time in your life. The opportunity to engage as a human, which we don’t train people on to engage on a human level, somebody cause you have this shared experience everybody’s at home.
Dan Gottlieb: Yeah, I would love to get into the content in a, in a second, but you know, it reminds me of the word that comes to mind is that it’s this egalitarian experience. And like what it’s turning into, what it’s totally turning into right now is, you know, I’ll never forget. I lived in Brooklyn, New York, you know, New York is not the kind of place where you smile and high five and ask every single neighbor of yours, how they’re doing it. You just have too many of them to figure that out, you know? and, and so I’ll never forget it was a blizzard. Maybe it was 2015. In 2016. And, my roommate was like, I’m going to go shelter this out with my, with my girlfriend. And I was by myself and I was like, I don’t want to do this by myself. So I called my buddy, you lived all the way up in Greenpoint. And I was in, I was in Williamsburg and I S he said, come on over, we’re here, hanging out, please come on over. And it was hard to get bad. So I said, I’m just going to strap up my stuff. And I’m going to go hike mile and a half in the snowstorm to my friend’s house. And I will never forget how every single person I saw, we were waving to each other. We were talking to each other. We were like, how crazy is this? I had never had an experience like that in New York city ever. And I don’t think I’ll ever have it again, where I stopped and acknowledged every single nerve neighbor that I saw. And, in many ways this is, this is a global phenomenon of the same proportion.
Andy Paul: So, but it is this, this is the thing that really so struck me as say, okay, if we’re going to put together our messaging strategy, it has to start with that. You make this human connection. So when you start start saying, okay, well, how am I addressing this person? That’s like, well, gosh, I have all these questions that come to mind.
You know, if you’re, you know, if you have grade school, age kids, you know, how’s the online education going? Are you getting homework done as you know, or projects getting done, you can just start for a laundry list of things that will lead into a conversation about business, but people want to relate on that level to begin with.
And it’s not something that will necessarily go away. It should not go away. Once we start passing through into what we, what are we considered the new normal to be, or the new reality to be? Hopefully it’s a, a massive lesson for sellers.
Dan Gottlieb: Completely, you know, one thing it’s very important for a lot of sellers that might be listening to this or paying attention to this is that it shouldn’t, you shouldn’t go at this all by yourself. You know, this while you are, there’s a lot of things you can control, within an organization, you know, how do you figure out what the relevant topics are about your buyers?
You know, historically we’ve relied on buyer, persona messaging, historically we’ve relied on, you know, our product marketing team to give us insights. Sometimes we rely on our personal experience and what we know about our market. sometimes we. It’ll we’re practitioners before we went into sales.
And, you know, the, the, the profession that I think is the most important for sellers to try and emulate right now is journalists. Start with your relationships, just start with experts that, you know, people that, you know, in your market that can just tell you here’s what I got going on. And then as an organization, behave like a newsroom, you know, setting up channels in your, in Slack or teams or whatever you use where you’re literally just providing these real time updates and, and, and creating this like self building library of insights, where all you’re doing is just getting that knowledge out as quickly as you can. and then once you have, you can, you can validate, right.
Hey look like I’ve been talking. But for reaching out net cold to a prospect, a stranger you’ve never heard of before, you know, you don’t want to use empathy on like, along the lines of my family is safe. I’ll of course you hope my family is safe. I hope you would not hope that my family is safe. you can kind of skip some words though.
We’re of that business oriented. Hey look like I understand you might be going through having to think about how to completely re instrument your team for the next three to six months or that you might be considering whether or not you should bring your team back to the office. Like. You can use the insights to have a much more relevant conversation.
So we’ve been telling a lot of our, our sellers and our clients that we work with that to think about engagement, first engagement over discovery, if you will just to start a conversation. and then from there, you know, you can learn a lot more.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Make sure I understood you correctly. Or. I would, I would not skip the small talk. I don’t know about the things that are personal ever, ever, ever, ever. because I think at, first of all, it’s going to give for the level of personal level of comfort with you, when you then make the transition to say, Oh, okay, this guy’s kind of interested in me and I’m therefore interested to him or her.
So, yeah, I’m more likely to answer more fully on this next question. Yeah, we tend to there’s this trend and hopefully, yeah, we’ll see it stop here. But there’s been this trend to sort of say let’s dismiss that small talk part of the first. And I think the way sellers have to understand what happens is that everything builds on thing that proceeded in sales.
And so. Somebody may still talk to you, even though you didn’t necessarily do the greatest job at that personal engagement level, they may still talk to you, but there’s a lot of reasons. People may still talk to you. What you don’t understand is you’re on a weaker foundation and maybe you’re in third place.
So you really have to pay attention to everything at each step, along the way. And so engagement starts. Yeah, absolutely start the personal gift to business. not you spend forever. Yeah. It’s no, one’s no, one’s has an interest spending 20 minutes talking about homework with the kids, but find that thing, you know, if you do a little work ahead of time, you’ll know.
Dan Gottlieb: Completely. And there is so much X factor in whether or not someone has kids where those kids are in life, whether they’re at home or not, you know? and I think it’s been very interesting to watch the folks that are at home with young kids, find an escape through work. You know, like I have a, I have a colleague, they’re an account manager and you know, they’re on the East Coast and some of us are on the West coast and we’re like, Oh, isn’t it like eight o’clock there?He’s like, yes, but this is a very important call right now. And –
Andy Paul: My stepdaughter’s, child and adolescent psychiatrist. And so they’re doing sessions remotely. And where in the office, you know, the mother will sit in the waiting room. The kid will come in and spend time set some nods and then See Ya Later and they’re out of there for an hour. Just, you know, you occupy the skip cause they’ve been all over me for the last eight hour.
So yeah. Yeah. So this is very interesting. And so I don’t envy people have school aged kids that are home or even preschool kids that are trying to get all this work done. It’s, it’s amazing that they are able to get it done. Cause I remember those days and yeah. Would have been tough. So, alright. So we’re talking about, we’re talking about engagement, talk about, understanding the person’s goals that you’re talking to. So what do you, what do you think about that?
Dan Gottlieb: So, you know, that, that that’s always been a high level vague idea that I think every seller has been told in one way, 45 shapes or forms throughout their careers. Right. The key is, is understanding and trying to get to a point where you. You know, can have a much more thoughtful conversation about, what’s shifted, you know, a lot of organizations, what they care about has completely changed over the next year, 2020 plan, the model that you use, all of the, all of the assumptions that you’ve made for your plan this year, they’re all out the window.
They’re all busted. You know, there is no opportunity conversion benchmark during a pandemic that exists. So, you know, as a result of that, Well, I think it’s, it’s, it’s been fascinating to watch how quickly organizations can get to this point of understanding. What are the, what are the actual imperatives, not just to survive the next month, but how has this business, what are the next three to six months going to look like?
What kind of change management is coming downhill from there? You know, we we’ve been talking about how, if you’re going to get a deal done, really, the only way you’re going to get a deal done is if you’re connecting the value of what you’re providing to some, one of those mission critical priorities, and that you find the person that’s been deputized to address that, and, and so understanding, how to ask those questions early, has never been more important both from helping the person that you’re talking with, understand if this is worth their time and to make sure that you’re honing in on the thing that matters, you know, and it’s important to yeah-
Andy Paul: do you have suggestions on how to ask that?
Dan Gottlieb: Yeah, I, so the suggestions, right? If, if you have information from some of your past customers, that’s probably one of the most useful ways, right? Like we’ve seen a few businesses that are, that are trying to change the way that they’re thinking about instrumenting their teams. Right. Is that relevant? Yeah. No, not rather than just asking these kinds of questions in a flat, open-ended try to demonstrate that. Hey, I I’ve been trying to figure this out and I’m trying to figure out what’s relevant to you. Building on the idea, like you said a minute ago, that everything happens based on what happened before, right?
So the more, journalist-like presentation of insights from what you’ve been seeing from your customers and the more relevant they are, the better. The more likely you’re going to be to learn? Well, no, that’s interesting that that company is trying to think about it like that, but here’s how we’ve been deputized to figure this out. Right. we need to create if you’re selling sales, tech, sales team, you know
Andy Paul: Yeah, that was interesting part. I might layer it slightly differently in the way I’ve asked, cause instead of referencing that know, Hey, we’ve been talking to a lot of customers and this is sort of what they’re seeing. I would, I would start by trying to include them in the effort and saying we’re in the process of talking to our customers to try to understand what’s going on and what’s important. What are you seeing? And then they’ll say, dah, dah, dah. And then you say, well, that’s interesting, cause we’ve been talking to this company and this company, and this is what they’ve seen. Then you can engage that in. But I think it’s, it’s more engaging for them to say, I want your opinion first. Not that I’ve talked to these other people now, what do you think?
Dan Gottlieb: I love that it’s in the spirit of the entire concept is you’re collaborating with them on, on ideas. And you’re bringing to the table is the insight of your, from your team, that newsroom and, and I love that. That’s, that’s a great optimization.
Andy Paul: And another way to sort of think about it too, for people that are listening is to think about when you ha, when you say that and they sort of come back with the soar. What we’re seeing is there’s two types of questions. I believe that I asked that are sort of macro and micro and macro levels. Well, that’s interesting.
So what’s the impact going to be on your company of this? And then what’s the impact going to be on you of this? Because when you get to the U level, then you open the door to find, well, maybe it’s not me. That’s really the impact is you really need to talk to the Nancy over in the other department, she’s the one that’s really going to be hit and carrying the water on this. Wow. Okay. Now go Nancy. Or if it is this person, then they start opening up and saying, well, yeah, it’s interesting because you know, I’m really trying to figure that out right now. Geez. How can I help you with
Dan Gottlieb: that?
It resonates in, in that it is a highly more collaborative approach to the initial conversation, right. Or, and then just working with, and identifying, where is this, what has your next three to six months shifted to be like? and if those, you know, when we’re, When we’re thinking about this idea of adding value, you know, you have to focus on extreme value, and that’s going to be the way that you do that is by honing in on only the things that are going to be both relevant to this person and if any- It’s gotta be the one thing, you know, you can’t, you can’t bro, paint this huge, big, ideal, know vision for all the things that are going to change. Cause that’s just not true.
Andy Paul: Yeah, well, but I think the thing that it’s really interesting, you brought that up because this is, I think is a lesson for again, for people listening, is that, you know, Dan just talked about, you have to identify that one thing. The point is there’s always only just one thing. Not just now forever. Right. And if this helps you get better at finding that one thing that’s of extreme value, that then this is a great exercise to go through to help you do that because yeah, I shared the example of, of early in my career selling this. Good sized computer system to a company in Fairfield, California construction company in the Bay area, East Bay. And they ran us through the ringer on this thing. Boy, we RFPs and big compliance matrix, and we had to demonstrate it was for counting for a good size construction company. And we had to demonstrate all the modules, you know, AR AP payroll, billing, job cost accounting, blah, blah, blah, blah. It was exhausting.
And ultimately won. And I remember it finally dawned on me a few months after they had started implementing it. And six months in, they were pretty fully implemented. At least I thought it wasn’t go out and they’re only running one module. It was a billing module. I said, Frank, what’s going on here? And he said, well, this is why we wanted to buy it. The rest is nice. This was, this was our one thing, and this has
Dan Gottlieb: And they were really happy.
Andy Paul: Oh, they were extremely happy. And,
Dan Gottlieb: Extremely
Andy Paul: and this happened to me numerous times in my career before I, I finally got smart enough to say, okay, what’s the one thing.
And so I think in this era, you, you highlighted perfectly, which is, there is one thing that’s more important than all the others find that one thing and find the one person who to your point earlier as well, who’s responsible for that one thing. And then you can start having those conversations should be a
Dan Gottlieb: call that person, the deputy,
Andy Paul: A deputy. Okay. I like that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s just that, that is, that is the key. Let’s say whether it’s now or, or whenever, when you’re selling as your discovery, you have to find that one thing.
Dan Gottlieb: what has. Right. And, and big picture in that, you know, this is accelerating these practices becoming norm. I think we’ve been talking about this for a long time in sales anyways. but there’s a whole generation of us, myself, very much included who has never, we’ve all been selling and learning how to sell in this gluttonous period of extreme growth, you know, and, I know, I know lucky. Yes, very lucky. Yes.
But now in a month, the stakes have completely lead changed. And as a result, I, this idea, isn’t just a nice to have idea. It’s, going to be a how, the only way you’re able to make it through, but this is really big nuanced change that’s happening at the front. And it’s this idea of, you know, we’ve been taught about give-gets.
Right. Qualifying. Discovery is treated as this like tips and tricks kind of, of, of experience. You know, every seller thinks they’re sly foxes when they’re like. So tell me a little bit about who else is involved in the buying process. You know, the jig is the jig is up on this and that we have to be willing to give and give and give without expecting much in return in order to learn about the one big thing.
You know, I, I have an example, you know, we have, we have, so we have a client, they are, are, sell, talked about tricky, right? They sell software to, healthcare systems, specifically collections optimization. Talk about tricky.
Andy Paul: Yes.
Dan Gottlieb: And so essentially they’ve, they’ve basically like, Paused a lot of stuff selling right now, but they are only focusing on turning their sellers into like value, add resources around they’ve literally turned them into a journalist. And the only thing that they’re even meeting with these folks on are sharing like mini assessment templates that they can use to figure out whether or not they actually need to think about the collections process differently for postcode, but. You know, and so that’s an example. They’re just giving, giving, giving, giving, giving.
There’s no expectation of getting anything in return. And I think that’s going to be really hard from a messaging standpoint for a lot of sellers to understand, right. Because it’s so counterintuitive
Andy Paul: Well, yeah, well, it’s surf kicking as you’re talking, sort of struck me as it’s like, you have to look at. More of your opportunities, even if you’re a little more transactional, you have to look at more of your opportunities, like major accounts. Where what you’re doing is you’re investing the time to help them. And this, this is an area of focus. I think that that’s going to be difficult for some sellers, is to help them and you brought this word up is help them decide, not decide, but choose how they want to solve the problem that they’ve got. And unfortunately we tend to train sellers these days. If you look at decision making in two steps, is people first choose how they want to solve the problem.
Second, they then decide who they want to solve it with. Is we orient our training and our focus and our processes oftentimes on helping our sellers just try to focus on that. Decide part after the customers are sort of chosen how they want to. Solve it. And if you’re on the outside looking in, when the customer says, well, this doesn’t, we’re going to find, this is how we’re going to find, how are we going to solve this problem?
Then you’re in a tough spot. You just compete on price and delivery at that point. And so what you’re talking about before really is this. Yeah, you have this opportunity now, especially if somebody is paused, something that was in the works, especially if you weren’t really in the running before, is to come back in and say, Yeah, how can we help you solve this problem? Let’s look at what the problem is that trying to solve. Have you made thought about this? You provide your insights, a little bit challenger, and if you can be that, that person that says, look, they’re gonna ultimately end up basing their vision of what they’re going to buy based on what our solution is. Then you’ve turned that into a winning position.
Dan Gottlieb: Yes. And what I love about it is how you’re turning it into a winning position and how you re you use the relationship that you established to do that. Even if it’s trends it’s actionable, adding extreme value, doesn’t have to be the one thing. Like that big issue. He doesn’t have to be honing in on one issue.
You could start in a much simpler way. We’ve got an example, a sales enablement technology vendor, right? A sales enablement enablements very busy right now as a, as a team, very, very busy, but one day, one of their, that groups, big issues. I’ve got world wide, worldwide training sessions that we got to have now run virtually, and I’ve, we’ve got to figure out not only how to adjust COVID, you know, to the COVID post COVID economy. We also have to find out how to virtual right. Deliver this virtually to a Salesforce of 500 plus people. And by the way, we have to help with QPRs. Right all while all this is going on. And so, you know, we have that, they’re just giving their sales reps, this tool to how to run a virtual key QBR.
So this is that’s enablement people saying like, Hey, you’re trying to run up. Let me just set up some time to show you how to do that. You know, you could start small to get the end game you’re, you’re, you’re creating reasons, but this requires sellers to be dynamic, right? Dynamic enough to deliver that kind of a presentation and not ask for anything in return. Disciplined enough to focus on helping and not asking for anything in return and that’s counter extremely counterintuitive. but the, the information comes up. It’s, it’s impossible for it not to come up right, when you’re helping along those lines.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, I mean the difficulty, I think that we see in these days though, because it’s a difficult to exist prior to, to this COVID crisis is the situation you described the biggest barrier to make that happen as management.
Dan Gottlieb: Tell me more about that.
Andy Paul: well, because these are, you know, my opinions and observations through 787 episodes of the show and talking to hundreds and hundreds of people and companies is that, you know, one of the, one of the artifacts of the way that we, we bring technology into sales is that we really haven’t trained people how to use the data in the most efficient, effective way. And so, you know, if you try to bring a nuanced sales approach into what is oftentimes, especially in SAS environment, kind of a brute force sales management, ethos, there’s going to be a conflict. And so, yeah, this is going to be a challenge for companies and it is a challenge for this coming in real time now companies are dealing with us. Yeah. How do I, how do I manage this? This need to be more value based. You know, quite frankly as is except the fact that my customers are gonna, they’re they’re slowing down.
That’s why the recession is gonna hit because everybody’s slowing down in turn. Right. Sort of unavoidable. So how, how do you mean, how do you work with your sellers as a manager that wants to hit your number? Companies hit a number, whatever that number, the number is undoubtedly changed in the last last month, but you still have a number you want to hit is how do you mesh these two together?
And I think. Yeah, messaging to the customer, not withstanding as is. This becomes really one of the big issues because got people remote, to your point earlier, the not in the bullpen, where they get the group effort and the group think, and the esprit de Corps and the camaraderie and sharing a best practices, all that stuff is much more difficult now and harder.
Dan Gottlieb: I, you know, it bring this full circle, what you just said resonates deeply, for a few reasons. So the first one is that, you know, we think about, and this is this dramatic. We’re not just being hyperbolic. We were talking about this, you know, in the, in the, as we were getting warmed up for the, for the recording here, we were talking about reinvention and reinvention is, is org wide. It’s PR it’s everywhere. It’s in process. It’s an individual’s it’s in our management strategy. And unfortunately, but all leaders are asking themselves, is this the right group? Right. Is this the right group of people that I need to lead right now?
And I think that that’s going to be a real, it’s a really tough reality for sales managers in that regard. But the second reason why it resonates is that, you know, there’s this growing wave in sales, tech, and sales. Anyways, that was happening before this, before this, it’s just going to accelerate it.
And that was this, the culture of sales has been evolving because salestech has been creating unprecedented transparency. You think about forecast, you know, historically it was very subjective. Here’s my commit. Here’s where I’m at. What happened in the last meeting? Well, let me tell you what happened in the last meeting.
Well, that’s subjectivity that would go into the forecast would come back down. Well, I think that you can, you’re able to go find X much more. I think you’re able to go figure this out, so just go figure it out that, that, That has been. And I think every seller has, can think of an experience that they’ve had like that, right.
That right there is a lot of the time where the breakdown tends to happen. But what sales tech is introducing is unprecedented transparency, conversation recordings. I have a whole library of them now. I don’t need to tell you what happened here. It is. Here’s what happened. Right. And so, that does two things.
It, the first thing it does is it, is it, is it puts a lot of pressure on sellers to try to navigate these conversations the right way, but it puts a lot of pressure on managers, completely rethink how they’re managing their teams, how they’re coaching their teams, how they’re leading their teams. So, you know, that’s ushering in a whole new wave of sellers that crave feedback, you know, managers that really want to get feedback that completely rethinking their schedules to provide feedback.
And now that we’re all inside sellers, this is there, there is a, a big demand for these kinds of tools to rethink how we’re interacting with each other at teams. So, all these variables combined are creating this cocktail, that is potent, that is putting a lot of pressure on the sales profession to rethink how we lead, set expectations and hold ourselves accountable. and I think that’s in the longterm. It going to be a good thing for the profession.
Andy Paul: No. I agree. I mean, I think that the, I see several things. One is, is that this is going to help people get sensitized to the fact that as we bring more tech into sales, is that the human aspect of it becomes more important, not less because as you bring more technology into it, certain aspects of your selling process are become less differentiated. so those differentiations gonna come from the humans. I think the other thing was putting pressure on and I like to kid sales tech CEOs one night say this when they come on, the show is like, yeah, we’ve had this unprecedented wave of sales technology into sales over the last five, 10 years. Yet, if you read CSO insights reports on sales performance, B2B is dropping year over year.
So thus the correlation must be sales tech makes salespeople stupid. which is not the case, but I, but I think that we still are fundamentally illiterate when it comes to how we use the tools and the information we get from it. And I think that is that I think is the big, the big way, you know, data literacy is horrible among sales, but we get this data and you just have to read some of the vendors out there that put out those parts.
We studied 6 million calls and you’re supposed to do X and it’s like, Well, no, that makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, it’s statistically, it’s horrible math. I mean, it’s just, you surf and it’s like, we’re doing ourselves a big disservice if we put that out there and think that it’s true. So I think we have this obligation in the profession to increase our data literacy and understand how to use these tools to actually improve performance.
Dan Gottlieb: Right. Bringing it back to the nuance messaging, you know, we have, we have transparency into the voice, the tone, the rhetoric. Of the customer that we, and I think that’s, that’s the big difference that didn’t exist before in interactions, right? That, from the data, I completely agree with you. I completely agree with you.
Huh? We start spending the same amount of time listening to what our prospects have been telling us. And reevaluating that as part of our engagements with our, with our, between our, sale sellers and managers, that’s just as, just as similarly important parallel to the data.
Andy Paul: That’ll be another episode that you and I will have to get into on that because it is one of my, my passion project says. This whole idea of performance and sales, right. You know, it’s, it’s, we’re good at, I think to some degree at giving people basic competence in sales, but we are bad at managing performance and it’s across the board and especially, and there’s lots of examples of relevant examples that we could learn from that, that we need to like, even some professional sports teams on how they manage top, top performers. And then understanding really productivity and sales. Cause I think that boils down into a lot of other facets of selling and, and we don’t have a standard definition of what productivity means. And I think this is, this is what come, hopefully, as you said, as we rethink our processes and rethink everything.
This has gotta be one thing to really have to tackle is really understanding what this means in sales. And again, hold another conversation we can have on that. But, yeah. Well, Dan, unfortunately got to jump, but this has been fantastic. I appreciate you taking the time.
Dan Gottlieb: Thanks for having me. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. I have a feeling you and I could talk for hours, especially about theater warmup exercises.
Andy Paul: Limited repertoire of those, but, but, I am a theater aficionado. I love love theater. So one of the great things about being here in New York.
Dan Gottlieb: I bet. I bet. Well, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, if we’re talking on soon,
Dan Gottlieb: Okay. Sounds good.