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Value Planning For Better Sales Calls with Andy Paul

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Value planning should be done every time you interact with your prospects. It's the answer to the question: "what's in it for my prospects to talk to me?" And Andy Paul, of the Sales Enablement podcast and RingDNA, knows a thing or two about value planning for better sales calls. In this episode, he talks about how to improve your value planning during the discovery process and beyond.

Links to find Andy Paul online:

Andy’s website
Connect with Andy Paul on LinkedIn
Sales Enablement Podcast


Value Planning For Better Sales Calls with Andy Paul:

Full Transcript

Andy Paul:
Well, I think the most important times are right at the beginning, right? You’ve got your ICP, you’ve got hopefully a well-defined ICP, is through discovery and qualification. Are you really sticking to your process? Are you sticking to your guns? This is the type of client we should be talking to. This is not a type of client we should be talking to. If we are excited to maybe go ahead and talk to [inaudible 00:00:24] maybe they don’t fit our ICP, what is the justification for that? Small companies oftentimes is, they’ll go to market with a broader definition of what the ICP is than they should, because they want to hedge their bets as opposed to going all in on what they think is the best fit.

Andy Paul:
They get these opportunities that then become distracting, because they’re on the margins. That’s a problem. So you need to be able to qualify those out. To me, I always want to have people be more rigid upfront in terms of, A, make sure we really do an incredible job at discovery to find out the one thing that’s truly motivating them to want to make the change and then qualifying the prospect against that. Right?

Liston Witherill:
That’s Andy Paul from the Sales Enablement podcast and chief evangelist at ringDNA, and he’s firm on this idea, every interaction you have with a prospect should add value to them, but what is value and how can you be sure you’re adding it every time you speak to your prospects? Well, it starts with an understanding of your client of course. What’s valuable to them is in the eye of the beholder and if you’ve been around your clients long enough, you certainly know what is valuable to them and it almost always comes down to solving problems and reducing the risk of making bad decisions.

Liston Witherill:
As obvious as it seems, you need a plan to help your clients and prospects get there. They’re taking precious minutes out of their days to meet with you so honor them by always making it worth their time. In this episode of Modern Sales, I talked to Andy Paul about his approach to value planning, why it starts as soon as the sales process begins and what you can do to ensure you’re delivering value long before your clients pay you a dollar.

Liston Witherill:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast that’ll help you sell more by understanding how people buy. I’m your host Liston Witherill, founder of Serve Don’t Sell, and I dig through academic research, interview people inside and outside of sales and nerd out on psychology, economics and neuroscience to figure out how people make decisions. And I am on a mission to change the way 100 million people sell so that buying B2B services can feel as good as finishing up a new website project that felt like it would never end.

Liston Witherill:
Wouldn’t that be nice? And more on that project later. If you’re listening on Spotify hit that follow button so that you don’t miss an episode and if you’re listening on iTunes or Apple podcasts, please subscribe and leave an honest review. If you’re so kind, it would be lovely if you left a five star review, it helps me get the word out for the show so we can together change the way 100 million people sell. Thank you in advance for your help. Now to the show.

Liston Witherill:
No matter your role in sales, business owner, manager, or frontline sales person, you know the people have hangups about your profession. Some of them just don’t like sales. They think some sales people are self-serving, manipulative and lack a moral compass. And frustrating as that may be, they are right. Not everyone is like that and I’m on a mission to change it, but some are. Some salespeople are bad actors. The stereotype comes from the power of negative experiences.

Liston Witherill:
All you can do is act in the opposite way, make every interaction inherently valuable to your client, not self-serving to you. Be selfless to the point of prioritizing their value over your own and be relentless in your pursuit to serve, not sell. So how do you create a plan to deliver value every time? That’s coming up in my conversation with Andy Paul, right after this short break.

Liston Witherill:
Hey there, welcome to Modern Sales I’m Liston Witherill and I’m very excited to be here with my guest today, Andy Paul. Andy, how are you?

Andy Paul:
I’m doing well. Thank you, Liston.

Liston Witherill:
Excellent. So Andy, why don’t we start by first acknowledging… I think the way we met is I reached out to you cold to be on your podcast in which you said yes so thank you for that opportunity. That’s not quite out yet, but it will be out soon. And I asked you to come on too, because you have a podcast, you’re an author, you know a lot about sales. Why don’t you tell all of our listeners and watchers what it is that you do?

Andy Paul:
Yeah, well, right now I’m host of Sales Enablement with Andy Paul. That’s my podcast. We just recently changed the name it had been Accelerate with Andy Paul for 758 episodes or 757 episodes and we just rebranded it and relaunched it as Sales Enablement with Andy Paul and that’s what I spend a lot of my time doing now. Also continue to write. So we just recently had sold my podcasts… my podcast has been acquired by a software company, ringDNA.

Andy Paul:
So yeah, that’s the focus of my work. Prior to that happening which was earlier this year, I’ve had my own company for 20 years, consulting with companies large and small around the world and written a couple of bestselling sales books and prior to that was running sales teams, growing sales teams for seven different venture funded startups.

Liston Witherill:
Oh, interesting. And why did you… I’m curious now, selfishly so just forget about all the listeners as I do.

Liston Witherill:
Why did you go out on your own as a consultant rather than staying as a sales leader?

Andy Paul:
So the company I was with at the time, I was part of a team that helped engineered a number of acquisitions. We were based in San Diego. Number… Excuse me, engineers and acquisitions in Atlanta and part of the plan was that I would go to Atlanta to help run the acquired companies and that just wasn’t in my game plan. And so, yeah, I decided [inaudible 00:06:11] time to transition onto my own…

Andy Paul:
One thing I was really looking for in starting my company was, just more variety in the work. I’d been in the satellite communications industry for 15 years prior to that and one of the… I think distinct skill sets I developed as how as a very small company, no brand name, no track record. How do you go sell really complex mission critical communications applications to really large companies competing against really large companies? So I said, well, Hey, would be a good opportunity to go out and sort of share that knowledge with other small and mid sized companies that are looking to broaden their market and perhaps run up against the bigger competitors.

Liston Witherill:
Interesting. Well, I’m sure there’s a lot of rich lessons in there, but today we want to talk about value planning for sales calls and I’m guessing that might be one of the lessons that you had about how to run this sort of known name to the enterprise. You got to think about what’s in it for the other person. So value planning for sales calls, why don’t we just start from the very, very basics? What does that mean? How do you define value planning for sales calls?

Andy Paul:
Well, looking from the perspective that when you’re asking somebody to give you some of their time, they’re basically investing time in you. What do people expect in return for investment? They expect sort of an ROI on that investment and so… It’s the same thing with your customers, if they’re giving you some of their time, it has to be worth their efforts, right? Their time, that investment.

Andy Paul:
I really [inaudible 00:07:34] upon this when I was selling for startups and that’s… This was sort of the pre-email, pre-internet days is… Not to date myself too badly, but yeah, I’m selling to state-owned telecommunications companies in Europe and in Asia and we didn’t have the money to fly around the world sort of willy nilly, we had to be very judicious about when we went and… Visit the customer would be judicious about even just arranging a meeting with them and taking some of their time.

Andy Paul:
So we were always focused on sort of two things. One is, what are we going to do in this interaction that’s going to help the buyer move closer to making their decision? That was sort of the primary definition of whether it’s successful or not. As a result of us being there or talking to them on the phone or whatever, were they closer afterwards than they were at the beginning? Did they make progress?

Andy Paul:
And two, as a result of having received this value, what commitments are they going to make to us in terms of next steps? And so it’s really those two things that… the two steps if you will, that form the heart of how you plan and should plan every interaction that you have with a buyer. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s an email, it could be just a phone call, the dreaded check-in phone call.

Andy Paul:
I always give that example when I’m talking about this in public groups is, you call somebody you say, “Hey, this is Andy,” “Mr. Buyer,” “Yeah, nothing really new, just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing.” We just consumed some of their time. What did they get in return for that time? Absolutely nothing. And so if you have a pattern of taking their time and providing nothing of value in return, what are they going to do? They’re going to stop giving you their time.

Andy Paul:
And so in order to avoid that, is you should be very deliberate and you should be able to go down your pipeline, or if you’re a sales leader, you should be able to go down the pipeline of your sellers and for every item in there on the pipeline, every opportunity, say, “What’s the value plan for this? What does the buyer need from us on this very next call that you’re going to make to them?”

Andy Paul:
Again, virtual call, physical call, email, those very next interaction, what are we going to provide to them that’s going to help them make progress to start making the decision. And if you don’t know that the seller doesn’t know the answer to that, or if you’re a seller listening to us and you don’t know the answer to that, you’re not really in control of all the facts and what’s happening in your account. And that’s really a bad place to be.

Andy Paul:
And I sort of learned this lesson the hard way, earlier, much earlier in my career. I just remember this call. I always remember this call. I got the call from this… Sort of a manager level, sort of in the startup, and I get a call from my boss one day and he… I was just starting to work on some big accounts and I sort of didn’t really have the background [inaudible 00:10:05] the training on how to set up large accounts, but he calls me on Sunday afternoon and wants to go review all my accounts.

Andy Paul:
And he’s asking me basically, these questions, and I didn’t have the to answer to them. He, unfortunately, knew more about some of those accounts than I did. I mean he had sort of gotten frustrated with me and actually called a couple of them. And it’s a position you never want to be in as a sales person, is that your boss knows more about your accounts than you do.

Andy Paul:
It was a great learning experience. From that point on, I was like, “Oh, this is what I need to know. Right? This is the critical step.” And so it requires… On part of a seller, requires you to be very deliberate, right? We tend to want to fall into, “Hey, here’s our linear stage based process. And we’ve got these checklists for stage migration and we do these things…” Customer doesn’t think of those terms. They think of, “Hey, If I’m going to spend the time with you, what are you going to do that’s going to help me move closer to making a decision?”

Liston Witherill:
Right? Well, the customer doesn’t think in those terms, but I don’t think that negates the value of having a sales process or having a… At least ideal process to follow. Right? I think what you’re saying is, all there really matters to the customer is, “is this in my interest and are you clarifying something, teaching me something, making me do something better as a result of this call?”

Andy Paul:
Well, what happens is, sellers default to what they think the process is. I agree. I did a survey seven years ago of 300 plus small businesses and… Small midsize businesses, about their sales process and only about 20% of them had a documented process, which is a problem, right? You need to have a documented process, but what’s happened, even in the last five to ten years, that seller’s tendency with the use of technology, become a slave to their process.

Andy Paul:
And it doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to be extremely thoughtful about every single interaction you’re going to have with your buyer. And I think this is what separates good performers from better performers.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. So a lot to say there, right? So I think there’s an argument to be made to sell a certain way and tell people we don’t sell that way if they want to buy a different way. And there’s an argument not to do that. I think it really depends on your business and who you’re selling to. I do want to come back to something you said though.

Andy Paul:
Sure.

Liston Witherill:
Which is this idea of number one, asking how can I add value to someone before our call and number two, asking how do I make a commitment or how do I get them to make a commitment rather? And what is the commitment that they need to make?

Liston Witherill:
So I think this idea of adding value is A, the most truthful business advice anyone can give and B, also not super useful or actionable. So what are some ways that you think about, if I’m going to call someone, send someone an email, ask them for a meeting, what are some concrete ways that you think you can add value and you would build that into your value planning for your sales call?

Andy Paul:
Well, I have to know what they’re looking for on this interaction. What’s the purpose of the interaction?

Liston Witherill:
How would you know that?

Andy Paul:
Because you’ve asked.

Liston Witherill:
Okay.

Andy Paul:
So when you’re through with, let’s say one interaction, there should be a plan for the next interactions that’s in progress. So you ideally would leave one interaction like this, let’s say with a client saying, “Okay, well here’s… As a result of this call, this is what we see what’s going to happen going forward and what we need you to do is X and we’ll do Y.”

Andy Paul:
And so you’re on a track, right? And some people we [inaudible 00:13:28] do is say, “Hey, I’m going to do a master account plan at the start.” Right? We get agreement with the customer, they’re going to let us in to do discovery, then we’ll map it all out. These are the steps we think that’s going to happen. Maybe you’re going to follow that. Maybe it’s a little less concrete because there’s so many stakeholders involved and the buyer really can’t commit to that. Okay? But you still have to be conscious of the fact that, what is the purpose of this interaction? And the purpose value is such a… It’s a term I tend not to want to use much, but the only way to define value in my mind is, does it help the buyer make progress? Does the buyer acknowledge, this helped me move closer to making a decision as a result of spending this time with you.

Andy Paul:
And that’s the only definition of value. Does it help them move closer to making a decision? So that could be, you asked a great question that’s sort of forced them to rethink their paradigm of what they’re following to buy. Perfect. You provided some insights based on what other customers are doing. Perfect. [inaudible 00:14:23] if they found value in it. You just go down the list. It could be a presentation, it could be a case studies. It Doesn’t really matter. It’s, did it achieve this end result?

Andy Paul:
And if it didn’t achieve this end result of helping them move closer, yeah, they’re going to sit back and think, “Well, okay, that’s sort of useful.” But what’s the point of that? So, I mean, we’re never going to hit on a hundred percent of them, but if we’re not planning and if we’re not being extremely deliberate and thoughtful about it, then yeah, you’re going to miss on a higher percentage of those interactions and calls you have with buyers.

Liston Witherill:
So you mentioned that only 20% of small and medium businesses in your survey actually had a documented sales process, which by the way, I’d love to see that research at some point. You know I’m a nerd for research. So one in five, for those that do have it documented, and this is a big part of my business, is I help companies do that. How do you think about on the one hand, we have to deliver value to our clients and our prospects, right? And you’re saying you need to have the ability and wherewithal to adjust on the fly in order to give value to the person in however that’s going to be most valuable to them. On the other hand, we have to have a documented process. How do you think about what is the right time to stick to the process and make hard decisions versus let’s be more flexible?

Andy Paul:
Well, I think the most important times are right at the beginning, right? You’ve got your ICP, you’ve got hopefully a well-defined ICP is through discovering qualification. Are you really sticking to your process? Are you sticking to your guns? This is a type of client we should be talking to. This is not a type of client we should be talking to. If we are excited to maybe go ahead and talk [inaudible 00:16:04] maybe they don’t fit our ICP, what is the justification for that?

Andy Paul:
Small companies oftentimes is, they’ll go to market with the broader definition of what the ICP is than they should because they want to sort of hedge their bets as opposed to start going all in on what they think is the best fit. They get these opportunities that then become distracting because they’re on the margins. That’s a problem.

Andy Paul:
So you need to be able to qualify those out. To me, I always want to have people be more rigid upfront in terms of A, make sure we really do an incredible job at discovery to find out the one thing that’s truly motivating them to want to make the change and then qualifying the prospect against that right? Have they put together the internal business case to justify if they can achieve these outcomes that they’ve set out, that they’re committed to move forward. And at that point early on, relatively early on, though you keep qualifying people and requalifying people throughout the subsequent stages, at least then if you’re really rock solid on that… Pretty good foundation to go forward.

Liston Witherill:
So on this idea of commitments, what are some common commitments? Maybe let’s not talk in abstract terms, but in your career, what are some things based on some of the things you were selling, what are some of those commitments that you would ask people? Obviously meet me on this day to talk about XYZ, right? But what are some other commitments, especially in a more complex sale? I think there’s a lot of things that we could ask of clients. What are some of the ones that you see as sort of making a lot of forward progress?

Andy Paul:
Well, it really depends on what you’re selling, but for me when I was selling [inaudible 00:17:34] large satellite communication systems, if we could get costs, current costs of operation, that was huge. Right? So we had to be able to develop a certain level of trust with the buyer for them to want to disclose that information to us. So for us just saying, “Well, what are the things we could do to develop that level of trust?” So sometimes it was based on credibility. A lot of times it was just based on building the relationships and investing the time to build the connection with the key stakeholders that… they would feel comfortable divulging that information to us.

Andy Paul:
So it sort of depended on the situation, but that was a critical one for us, right. When was somebody willing to disclose information to us, but they wouldn’t disclose just in the normal course of selling or talking to somebody outside the company. That was always a big step. So we were trying to earn the trust to get to that point. That was always a critical one. Sometimes it was because things were a little more hierarchical than some of the organizations we were selling to, sometimes it was getting up to that next level, right? To be able to talk to the next level or talk to the managing board.

Andy Paul:
Oftentimes with European companies we’re talking to, that was a step we’re trying to work to. So it required working through several layers because again, much more bureaucratic. That was the commitment we want. If we can help you with this, provide this information, which basically gave that person permission to sell up within the organization, could we then, either accompany you on that call or follow that up, that your meeting you have with them to talk to that individual and just take it step-by-step.

Liston Witherill:
Excellent. So earlier you mentioned that one of the ways that you can deliver value is by asking a question that clarifies something for the client, or maybe challenges their thinking on whatever their problem is or whatever they’re trying to accomplish. You also said that one way to lose trust or one way to lose forward momentum in your sale is by asking very scripted questions. Now, my feeling is, if I do have a very tightly defined ICP or I call it a perfect fit client definition, right? If I have that already, I don’t know what you mean by super scripted questions, but I probably have an understanding of what range of questions I could ask that would be insightful to a multitude of people.

Liston Witherill:
So for you, what does it mean to ask a super scripted question? Is that just like a standard, what is your budget? Or what is your timeline? Or… How do you think about that?

Andy Paul:
Well, the way I think about it is, and from listening to recorded calls of reps and watching reps in action over the years is that, my experience has been and my belief is that when, the more scripted the rep is, the less inquisitive they are, the less curious they are. The more they anticipate the answers they’re going to get, because they’re following this list of questions down. And a typical thing was, I was listening some calls just a couple of years ago, rep talking to a buyer and you could hear them. They’d ask a question, the buyer would give their answer and then you’d hear this pause and they’d go, “uh-huh” and then they were looking down to the next question, then they’d ask it.

Andy Paul:
So it’s these little… You could just see what was happening. You could just envision what the rep is doing but in the meantime, what the customer is doing was, leaving the door open. What they’re saying is, “Come ask me a follow up question.” But the rep wasn’t. And I hear this all the time.

Andy Paul:
I have this one client, a coaching client. He was very proficient, but suffers from sort of the same thing from time to time is, yeah, she just doesn’t follow up when the opportunity is presented because so focused on, make sure I get through the list of 10 questions. So it’s the behavior that it [inaudible 00:21:02] It’s not just the questions themselves, It’s what you do with those questions. Right? Do you ask it and then are you alive in the moment? Then say, “Okay, am I hearing something other than what I anticipated? Or am I just… Am I open? Have I removed my filters? Am I not judging this answer before I heard it? Am I taking a pause to really process it before I jump into the next one? And is it the time to ask the following question?”

Andy Paul:
And so I think what happens when people come more scripted is that they go through those behaviors, “Yep, I know what they’re going to say.” We compound it by giving people these tightly defined personas. “This is what they care about. Tada, yada, yada, yada.” And it’s like, yeah, but we sell to people, not personas and so we have to… I said, stay alive in the moment, really listen to what people are saying. Take our filters down and say, “Okay, script be [inaudible 00:21:48] What’s the next best question I should be asking somebody?” And maybe we throw the script away at that point.

Liston Witherill:
So I’m a big sports fan so there’s a lot of sports metaphors that kind of sneak their way into all of my writing and I think you could look at any sport… What’s your favorite sport Andy?

Andy Paul:
Soccer.

Liston Witherill:
Oh my God. The sport I know nothing about. Well, let’s take soccer, right? Let’s say I do dribbling drills. Right? And I’m going up the field in the moment. So I need to remember my dribbling drills, but I need to know them so well that I’m not consciously thinking about them, but I also need the ability to react on the fly because all the other players may not be playing by the same rules as the dribbling drills I practiced. Right?

Liston Witherill:
And I need to sort of respond in real time. So to me, I think what you’re making an argument for is better listening skills and being more curious about what you’re hearing. It’s not that there’s an inherent problem with having pre-written questions that can guide a conversation, but the point of the conversation isn’t to ask the questions, it’s to have a good conversation with the client and uncover something about them that both adds value to them and helps me understand if I can help them out.

Liston Witherill:
Is that fair to say?

Andy Paul:
Yeah. Well, as I said before, it’s the behavior that is elicited by the script, not the scripted questions themselves. That’s… From my experience and working with teams, this is the problem. Because on any distribution of sellers on a team, you can have various levels of proficiency and I think we do a disservice to people by saying that this can be so scripted, when really you have to have the situational awareness is really the best description of it, right? In the moment you have to have the situational awareness to know, what should I do next?

Andy Paul:
And the default too often is, ask the next question as opposed to process… really listen to the answer. Process it. Let your curiosity guide you to, “Well really what’s the next best question I should be asking based what the buyer just said?”

Liston Witherill:
Yeah. I wish there were a simple way to deal with this, but I think ultimately what we’re getting at is people need to make judgment calls during these conversations, whether we stick to the script or whether we go off and talk about this other thing that we just learned about.

Andy Paul:
Or it’s the opposite, which is don’t have judgment. Don’t judge an answer. “Oh, that’s the complete answer,” “Yep. I’ve heard that before.”

Liston Witherill:
So that’s not what I meant when I said judgment. I didn’t mean judging the client’s answer, I meant making a judgment internally about how I behave during this conversation.

Andy Paul:
Yeah. Take any relationship in life, right? I mean, it could be a spouse, it could be a friend, you don’t really know how it’s always going to progress. Right? In every moment you don’t know how that conversation’s going to go. You may have had this conversation and a similar conversation with some… just your wife, five times, but it’s not going to go the same way every time and we can’t make that judgment ahead of time that, “Yep. I’ve been in the situation. I know exactly what the customer is going to say now. I know exactly what that’s going to mean.”

Andy Paul:
No, we don’t. And so this is, I think, it becomes a point of failure for us, is this assumption that we know exactly what’s happening when again, for more in the moment, more aware of what’s happening in the broader situation, then you have the opportunity to [inaudible 00:25:03] said, use your curiosity, use your judgment as you’ve talked about, to say, “Yeah, what’s really the next best question I should ask?”

Liston Witherill:
Which brings us back to this sort of dualistic thing that’s happening right? On the one hand you’re saying we have to do value planning, right? Which means asking myself ahead of time how can I deliver value to someone during the call. Which is the plan, right? Which is similar to a script. And then we’re also asking what commitments does the customer need to make but then you’re also saying during the call, how can I be more in the moment? And so I, 100% agree with you, we need both. How as a sales person, can I be more in the moment? What are some ways that you think about giving that to your coaching clients? Or I know you sell online training and courses, what are some ways that you help people become more in the moment?

Andy Paul:
Well, one of the ways is to, what I call, listen slowly, which is, somebody says something to you, don’t just jump back with, “Yeah, I’ve got the answer to that. I know exactly what you meant by that. Here’s the answer to it.” Instead, it’s just stop, pause for a bit, process. You could be taking a deep breath, which doesn’t have to take long, but give yourself the chance to just process what you heard and think, “Okay, what’s the best answer or the next best question I should ask as a result of hearing what they had to say?”

Andy Paul:
So I think it really starts with listening and just to slow down. Slow everything down. That’s what we talk about, being in the moment, being more mindful.

Andy Paul:
Yeah, we’re excited [inaudible 00:26:30] sales, it’s exciting when we’re talking to a prospect who’s excited about what we’re talking about and we think there’s this great connection and we want to make things happen, but you got to be careful. Right? Just slow it down a little bit and make sure that you’re paying attention in the moment. That you’re saying, “Okay, based on what they just said, what’s the next best thing I could ask them? What’s the next best way I could respond? What did they really mean by that?”

Andy Paul:
And we process information very quickly. This doesn’t take five seconds, you’re going to have all these pregnant pauses, just give yourself the chance to think rather than saying, “Oh yeah, based on their answer, this is what I need to say.”

Liston Witherill:
I would also add to that, that for most people, not just sellers, business owners, sales leaders, anybody in any conversation, five seconds feels like certain death, five seconds of silence? I mean, it’s very difficult if you haven’t done it before to allow that amount of time to pass and actually be okay with it.

Andy Paul:
Well, the way I would do it, even in face to face meetings is, I would write. “Just a second, I want to make sure I get that right.” And I’m giving myself… Buying myself time to think, and you can do this on a virtual call as well. “I want to make sure I get that.” But in the meantime, what you’re doing is “Okay, what did that mean?”

Andy Paul:
So whether it’s five seconds or two seconds or whatever, I’ve taken longer because yeah, I really want to say, okay, this is an important juncture in this call and it’s going to go one way or another based on what happens next. Am I going to get this right? Part the other thing, we talked about sales as a process, but really think about it, sales is really a collection of moments.

Liston Witherill:
Agreed.

Andy Paul:
And it’s what happens in each of those moments, an aggregate that dictate your opportunity to win the deal. And so there is no such thing as an insignificant moment in sales, I believe.

Liston Witherill:
I agree with that and actually maybe we can quickly jump to another gigantic topic. You mentioned something about travel, and one thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about and writing a lot about is selling in a remote environment.

Liston Witherill:
And one of my conclusions about that is, each of those moments, the volume is turned up even more. Because there’s less information when I sell remotely versus in person. Right? There’s all these other things that I can learn about someone when I see them, when I can interact with their office, see their office, or they can see my office.

Andy Paul:
Sure.

Liston Witherill:
All kinds of other things. What tips, if any, do you have for people who are suddenly thrust into this remote… Only for now, but probably more remote world moving forward.

Andy Paul:
That’s a great question because it’s really what will normal look like at some point. And horrible at predicting what that’s going to be but assuming to your point that it’s more virtual, if you will.

Liston Witherill:
Let’s just assume that for the purpose of this question. Yeah.

Andy Paul:
Yeah. Let me give you a bit of comparison.

Andy Paul:
So back when… Without dating my self unnecessarily, [inaudible 00:29:26] selling to these major corporations around the world pre-email, pre-internet, we had the phone, right? And it was an expensive call too. Those days.

Liston Witherill:
And telegrams.

Andy Paul:
No telegrams. We already passed that point.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. Okay. I’m just giving you a hard time.

Andy Paul:
But Faxes… covered wagons were right before I was born. And so we had to be very… And I use this term before, we had to be very judicious about the opportunities we had to actually meet with a customer and so we did most of our selling over the phone. We had conference calls, [inaudible 00:29:57] conference bridges, I think you’d have 12 people in a room on the other end. So you just had to be… Again, sort of almost slow it down a little bit, but you had to make sure that you’re very clear in how you were communicating. You had to ask for confirmation to make sure they understood exactly what you’re talking about.

Andy Paul:
When they were asking you questions, you want to make sure you mirrored back to them what you heard just to confirm. Again, “Did I understand that properly before I asked?” So it requires slowing down, to some degree. Not the interval between calls, but while you’re in the call, is just to make sure… One of the biggest sources of value that you can provide as a seller to your buyer is understanding, right?

Andy Paul:
We tend not to articulate that as much as we should is, make sure that… Having the customer feel like they’re understood just like in a personal relationship. Hugely important. That’s a part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Customers value that. And I think it’s one real issues they have with sellers is that, “Well, this person came in and just zipped through this. I don’t think they really understand what we’re trying to achieve here.”

Andy Paul:
And that disconnect leads to, no order or no close of an opportunity you worked on. So understanding… And so we would just focus, focus, focus, and make sure we really understood. So we left every phone call and everything in-person meeting, feeling like, “Okay, I have a higher degree of confidence or a relatively high degree of confidence that I understand exactly what they understood… they understood what we were trying to get across and we understand what’s going to happen next.”

Andy Paul:
And so I think for people that are going into a more virtual environment is, you have to focus on the idea of, not getting through the call but at the end of it, did we understand each other?

Liston Witherill:
Is that different than selling in person?

Andy Paul:
It shouldn’t be.

Liston Witherill:
Right… Yeah.

Andy Paul:
It shouldn’t be but I think it’s just something to focus more on because to your point earlier, is at least when you’re in person, you have the body language to sort of give you a cue and yeah, we have some of this with video from the neck up, not quite the same, right?

Andy Paul:
The experience is not as good as being there. So, understanding really is, for me, the key thing, and again, you just have to slow down a little bit. Mentally slow down a little bit. It’s hard. I mean, I get… as enthusiastic as anybody who I’m talking to, a great prospect, we get this back and forth going and we’re creating all sorts of interesting ideas but if I don’t confirm that they understood what I was talking about and I understood what they were talking about, at the end of the day I could leave that meeting and it’d be like it never happened.

Liston Witherill:
Sure. Well, thank you, Andy. I really appreciate all of your wisdom. Thank you for sharing here on this podcast. If someone wanted to learn more about you or your podcast or your website, what should they do?

Andy Paul:
Visit the podcast. Search on iTunes or wherever you listen, to Sales Enablement with Andy Paul. And if you… Gosh, we have… By the time this airs we’ll have well over 760 episodes and yeah, lots of good stuff to select from. If you like it, subscribe, please give us a rating on iTunes. And if they want to email me, they can email me. Either at andy@andypaul.com. You can follow me on LinkedIn. Usual [inaudible 00:33:00] and then Real Andy Paul to distinguish myself from the non-real Andy Paul’s.

Liston Witherill:
Real Andy Paul, is that your Twitter handle?

Andy Paul:
It is my Twitter handle as well, but also for LinkedIn. Yeah.

Liston Witherill:
Got it. Okay. And all of that is linked in the show notes so if you’re interested in learning more about Andy or his podcast or connecting with him on LinkedIn or any of the various other things he mentioned, just go to the show notes right now. You can click there and you will be in the right place. Andy, thank you so much for being here.

Andy Paul:
Listen, thanks for having me.

Liston Witherill:
Excellent.

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Check out the four sales fundamentals every top performer masters, how to use value-based selling to increase your leverage, and how to improve your remote selling skills as the world becomes more virtual.

And check out the SDS method if you want to improve your sales process.

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