Market Dominance Guys

ConnectAndSell

Chris Beall and Corey Frank host episodes with thought leadership that leaves you shaking inside. read less
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Episodes

EP220: Finding the zipper - helping weasels become top-performing pigs.
Apr 2 2024
EP220: Finding the zipper - helping weasels become top-performing pigs.
Corey Frank and Chris Beall are once again joined by Fred Mondragon for this final segment from their visit. In the first two episodes with Fred, the guys covered the topic of The Seductive Shadowboxing of CRM data - Fit vs. Intent, Then the other side was discussed - Intent, Fit and the Future of Sales intelligence. In this final segment, the trio explores how Rev's AI-powered platform is helping sales teams "find the zipper in the weasel suit," transforming weasels into top-performing pigs. Fred explains how Rev's "special purpose AI" leverages vast amounts of data to help reps identify and target their ideal customers, while Chris emphasizes the importance of engaging in trust-building conversations. Corey sees the immense potential in combining Rev's AI targeting with ConnectAndSell's powerful sales acceleration tools to solve the challenge of "Who do I go after next?" Join us for this episode, "Finding the zipper - helping weasels become top-performing pigs." About Fred Mondragon: Fred, a senior sales and business development executive with extensive experience at SaaS software companies, joined Rev in 2021. He has managed revenue generation channels at numerous successful startups and large companies, including TimesTen, Oracle, and most recently, Medallia, where he set up the channel sales and alliances function from scratch. Fred received his B.A. and MBA from Stanford. Links from this episode: Fred Mondragon | LinkedIn The Sales Development Platform: Find your next best customer | GetRev.AI Corey Frank on LinkedIn Branch49 Chris Beall on LinkedIn ConnectAndSell
EP218:  Intent, Fit, and the Future of Sales Intelligence
Mar 20 2024
EP218: Intent, Fit, and the Future of Sales Intelligence
Welcome back to the second part of our insightful conversation with Fred Mondragon, where we continue to explore the intricate world of sales intelligence. In our previous episode, the guys discussed the significance of prioritizing fit over intent when targeting potential customers. However, the most successful sales strategies understand that fit and intent must work hand in hand to achieve outstanding prospecting results. Intent data has become an indispensable tool for sales teams seeking to identify and engage with prospects actively looking for solutions to their challenges. By analyzing online behavior, intent data offers invaluable insights into a prospect's buying readiness. When combined with a deep understanding of customer fit, sales teams can unlock the full potential of their prospecting efforts. In this episode, Fred shares his expertise with Chris and Corey on effectively integrating intent data with fit-based targeting to create a powerful, holistic approach to sales. They examine the best practices for leveraging intent signals alongside demographic data, ensuring that you're targeting not only prospects who are ready to buy but also those who are the right fit for your solution. Join Chris, Corey, and Fred as they dive into the fascinating interplay between intent and fit, and discover how this synergy can help you achieve unparalleled success in your sales efforts. Listen to episode 218: Intent, Fit, and the Future of Sales Intelligence." About Fred Mondragon: Fred, a senior sales and business development executive with extensive experience at SaaS software companies, joined Rev in 2021. He has managed revenue generation channels at numerous successful startups and large companies, including TimesTen, Oracle, and most recently, Medallia, where he set up the channel sales and alliances function from scratch. Fred received his B.A. and MBA from Stanford. Links from this episode: Fred Mondragon | LinkedIn The Sales Development Platform: Find your next best customer | GetRev.AI Corey Frank on LinkedIn Branch49 Chris Beall on LinkedIn
EP205: Finding Your Beachhead Beyond The Chasm
Nov 27 2023
EP205: Finding Your Beachhead Beyond The Chasm
Many a promising startup has seen their lofty dreams dashed on the rocks due to lacking a bridge to cross that yawning chasm, separating early adopters from pragmatic mainstream buyers. Chris has contended with this treacherous chasm across multiple expeditions. Those early adopters feature prominently in startup lore - enthusiastic pioneers who relish new technology, derive career perks from kick-the-tires experimentation and care little about reputation risk. Yet they differ radically from that mainstream majority awaiting pragmatic proof. Chris invites you to draw on the profound insights of Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm) to help identify those visionary partners, extract maximum value from your earlyvangelists, and ultimately package your technology into a must-have product. Join Chris for this episode, “Finding Your Beachhead Beyond The Chasm.” Reading list from this episode: Out of Crisis - W. Edwards Deming Theory of Constraints - Eliyahu M. Goldratt Crossing the Chasm - Geoffrey A. Moore   Full episode transcript below: ----more---- (00:23): Today, Chris unpacks one of the toughest challenges for startups, navigating the chasm, separating enthusiastic early adopters from pragmatic mainstream customers. As an admitted disciple of Jeffrey Moore's pioneering work, Chris aims to spare fellow innovators from the common downfalls along the journey to achieving industry dominance. He'll examine how to identify key early evangelists and high value visionary partners to fund the next grueling leg after the chasm. Safely across, he'll share hard-won experience on transforming novel technologies into a must-have solution for pressing business needs. Charting this course carefully can turn scrappy upstarts into mighty market rulers. Chris offers guideposts so more pioneers can find safe passage from fledgling startup to titan. Join us for this episode, finding Your Beachhead Beyond the Chasm. Chris Beall (01:23): Hey everybody. Chris Beall here with Market Dominance Guys podcast. And hey, Corey's not available right now, and I thought I'd just put something in the can here and see whether anybody's interested in what I have on my mind today. So today I thought I'd talk about something really important that you can just go out and get a book and read what it's all about and figure it out, but maybe you want to think through some of the things that are unappealing about it that will make you not want to do the right thing when it's time to do the right thing. So this is for folks who come up with new technologies, with new solutions. So if all you do is you sell old stuff, probably isn't particularly relevant to you. But if you're selling a new technology, if you've invented something, or even if you've just come up with a twist on something and you think it's really valuable, important, could make a difference in the marketplace, could solve some real problems, you have a real problem. (02:19): And your real problem is that people are generally repulsed by new technologies. In fact, in general, people are repulsed by just plain old new stuff. Once it's been established and other people are doing it, they're buying it, they're using it, they're getting good value from it, yeah, then it's all pretty easy. But that's a big barrier to get through is that psychological aversion that people have to doing something new or trying something new, especially if it involves parting with something that they already have that would normally be money and always time, and then you could throw in risk to their reputation and well, it only gets worse. So now you've got something new, you're a member of the innovation economy, you want to come out with something, and I'm going to assume it's B2B. Why? Because I don't know anything about B2C. (03:08): I think I've mentioned this before. I'm clueless as a consumer and as a result, I don't think that I'm qualified to say anything about businesses that sell to consumers. I divide my Shark Tank episodes into two kinds. The ones where they're talking B2B, which is almost none of them, and the ones where they're selling to consumers where I can sit back and relax and think, "I don't know anything about this. These sharks seem to, but I don't." But B2B, I've been doing that a long time and I'm a disciple of Jeffrey Moore. The book in question is Crossing the Chasm. There's another book called The Gorilla Game if you want to get into the fantasy of actually doing what we suggest here on Market Dominance Guys, which is dominating markets. So The Gorilla Game's all about dominating tech markets with a product, not with a service. (03:57): If you want to dominate with a service, you become a king or a queen of that particular market, but you can't be a gorilla. And Jeff explains this in great detail in both of those books. They are wonderful reads. I must have read Crossing the Chasm now five or six times. If you really want to get everything you need to know, you could consider Crossing the Chasm as a starting point. You could consider Deming's Into the Crisis, so if you can read the crunchiness of it, he is a pretty grumpy guy when he wrote that book, but I would've been too. And then of course, all of the Theory of Constraints books, Eli Goldratt and everything, he tried to teach us about how systems essentially have one constraint and we should pay attention to it. Well, that actually goes together here with Crossing the Chasm. (04:44): And the reason is the constraint in the innovation economy tends to be just above the top of the funnel in the repeatable part of your business. This is the part that is across the chasm, not the part that is before the chasm. Let me see if I can explain this. So I would draw a picture here, but it's a podcast, so I have to draw the picture with words. So imagine you have a typical sort of normal distribution, a normal curve. You've seen them all before a bell-shaped curves, they're called. So it's got a left side and a right side and a middle. They kind of get steep for a while and then it kind of levels off the top and goes down. So most folks think, "Hey, this is how markets adopt. They start with a few people at the beginning. Those people get some good out of whatever it is. Maybe they talk it up. Maybe you get to refine your product a little bit and you go smoothly from having hardly any customers to having a little more, a little more. You establish yourself." (05:41): And then eventually you get past that midpoint in the hump and you're in what's called the late majority, and then you're in among the laggards. That's actually a great place to be. It's hard to be displaced there, but you are going to where there are fewer and fewer customers over time. So you might have to come up with something new. Eventually, we all have to come up with something new. So the number one thing to know about that curve, that simple, smooth curve, is that it's a lie. And by a lie, I mean it's a curve that has a hole in it, it has a gap where you get to a certain point climbing up the side where you're getting more customers and more revenue in particular, and suddenly it all goes away. (06:21): It goes to zero and it goes to zero for a while. And in fact, if you don't do anything about it, it goes to zero for a while. That's long enough that now you're out of business. So the chasm is the part of the curve that for very repeatable, predictable reasons, has just got no buyers in it. And since it has no buyers, it has no revenue. And if you keep trying to sell in the chasm, so to speak, where there's no buyers, you will run out of money because your overhead, which we've discussed before, is like a racehorse. It will eat while you sleep, it will eat up your entire company, and you'll try more and more crazy and desperate things to get those non-existent buyers to buy your product. And this is referred to my world as thrash, and you will thrash yourself to death trying to sell to folks who just aren't there. (07:17): Now, why are they not there? Well, it's because the folks who buy early who are divided into two distinctly different groups that must not be mistaken for each other are radically different from the ones who buy just a little bit later. So when you have a new technology, there are always folks that are interested in it. They're called technology enthusiasts. They love new stuff. They love it because A, it fits their personalities and their background. They know something about everything. B, they like messing around with stuff to see if they can make it work or break it. And C, they derive their own career and political power from being the sacrificial lambs out there trying things out that may or may not work and generally don't. So they have a special feature. Their reputations cannot be harmed by checking your stuff out your new thing. So they will check your new thing out. (08:12): This produces a false signal to you if you're not careful that says, "Oh, folks are interested in my new invention, my new product, my innovation." Now there are folks interested just for a funny reason, they're interested in trying it out, learning about it, kicking the tires, breaking it, tearing it apart, hooking it up to other stuff to see if it breaks that, and then they're going to move on. So are they good, bad, or indifferent? Well, they're really important. So you've got to engage with them and you got to engage with them early and you got to make them pay a little bit, otherwise they're not going to take it seriously. And then you have to pay attention to what they have to say. They're actually providing you with free advice, free consulting, in fact paid, and they'll pay you to tell you about your product and they'll actually try to use it. (09:05): So you have to kind of overpay attention to them, but also let them mess around and they'll give you insights and you need to use those insights intelligently in order to improve your technology, which at this point you will probably think is a product, and it's not a product yet. It's a product when it's in the hands of somebody who uses it for pretty much what somebody just like them has already used it for, it's useful for some job, it does a job. At this point, the job to be done is kind of amusing the tech enthusiast and letting them learn what's out there, what works and what doesn't. So you've got to sell to them. You got to sell to them right away. You need a certain kind of salesperson. Generally it's the person who innovated the product or somebody on that team. So feel free to do that. (09:59): Go sell to them. It's great. You'll have a little bit of growing revenue. Don't make the mistake of building out your revenue plan for the next 2, 3, 4, 5 years based on the growth in the tech enthusiast market. That market burns up quite quickly. And if you find yourself going from one to another to another company trying to find the tech enthusiast, you're selling to a market that has no future, and that's a mistake. So as long as you've got a few, it's moving fast, you're getting great feedback, stick with them. But meanwhile, you've got to look for your other kind of pre-chasm customer, and that is somebody called a visionary customer. And a visionary customer, it's a funny name actually, I've never quite liked this name. It's a customer who has a vision of how your technology, not your product, but your technology can confer upon them competitive advantage. (10:59): And why is that a vision? Well, they're having a vision of changing the competitive landscape or the strategic landscape in their business, in their market where they play. So it might be something that fills a gap for them that's just showed up in the world because now everybody has it. Today that gap would be generative AI. This is why generative AI is generating such a big buzz in the world and such high valuations for so many companies is not that the tech enthusiasts will pick it up. They will, which is fine, but that it provides new potential weaponry for somebody in a specific industry who if they could just figure out how to use gen AI with the rest of what they're doing, they could change the strategic landscape. That is they could get in a superior competitive position. The internet was like this once there was a point in the life of the internet when every internet company had a valuation that was based on the fact that lots of these visionaries, these customers that were going to seek competitive advantage, we're going to need help. (12:06): And so if you could help them either with a product or a service that leveraged the internet all to the good, so you're seeing that very same thing with generative AI. We've seen it before with e-commerce. We see it all the time in what I call hard engineering with advances in material science. You see it with battery technology. This is done all the time where something new shows up and the reason it goes hype crazy is actually a pre-chasm reason. It's not the tech enthusiasts who will fool around with it. They'll do things like I'm a better one when it comes to generative AI. We wrote a book using ChatGPT about market dominance, but it was really just to experience what is it like to use ChatGPT to write a book. So I made sure to keep it short time-wise, 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday until 11 o'clock on Sunday, the book had to be written from scratch or at least from transcripts out of this podcast and published on Amazon in three formats using ChatGPT to tell me how to do that. (13:06): Okay, so that was tech-enthusiast stuff. That doesn't really drive that early hype in a new material or new crazy thing that you can do like, well, ChatGPT. What does is the fact that there are always lots and lots of companies out there in competitive positions where vis-a-vis their big competitor, they think they could make a difference if they were first to adopt and use something new as a weapon. So with your visionary customer, you're selling to their vision of dominance or maybe their vision of escaping the dominance of somebody else. If they're number two in a market, they got to be trying to figure out something. So I have an example from a long time ago where the folks at W. W. Grainger, big catalog company with MRO products recognized, "Hey, this internet thing means that our book, our catalog book no longer needs to contain only say 90,000 products. It could contain hundreds of thousands, but how are we going to organize them in a way that we can manage them and by the way, help people find them, which is the claim to fame in our red book?" (14:15): So they were willing to do some very strong financial shifts in order to get ahold of some technology, in this case, it was catalog technology. I happened to be the guy selling it and they could do some big things. They thought if they could get the data together about all these products and then organize it in a way that people could find it and buy it, but also keep it up to date because that's a big problem when you're publishing a book, you do it in annual cycle, but the internet says you have to do it all the time. So we ended up doing a pretty big deal with them at a company I was with called Requisite Technology is a pretty big deal. (14:52): It ended up being probably out of the box 14, $15 million at a time when we had essentially maybe, I don't know, a million dollars of revenue. So should you do business with these visionaries? Absolutely. How many? A good number is one, that's a pretty good number in that you focus on really helping them achieve their competitive goals, and you do it at a reasonably great sacrifice to yourself of some of your resources. So you put together a deal that's got elements in it alike, believe it or not, source code, which no one likes to sell, but hey, if somebody needs competitive advantage, they need proprietary control. So one, make sure this isn't somebody who's actually representative of your future market. This is a smart one-off, and you're going to do a deal that makes a lot of money, which you need unless you like going to venture capitalists and taking their money and having them sort of run your company for you one way or another. (15:50): So you need a lot of money in order to cross the chasm. So how do you load up on it? Well, you do a visionary deal with somebody in which they get proprietary control within a specific domain of how it is that you do things. I'll call this your source code. It could be your secret formula, but it's something along those lines. They also need intellectual property, so you need to cross-license or license patents to them if you have them and know-how, they need help, so you're going to have to provide them with your best engineers. At what price? About one and a half times market because they're going to get very, very special value out of your very, very special people. How long? Probably a year, year and a half. That's normally long enough to execute on one of these sort of visionary plays. (16:40): And then what about exclusivity? Yeah, you got to offer that too if you want to make this work because you're offering a competitive advantage so you can't turn around and offer it to their competitor the next day. So let them name some competitors and have a period of time and a field of use and put that in the contract that you won't sell this deal to those named competitors for this period of time within that field of use. And that way you've provided all of the elements for a competitive advantage for that visionary. And assuming that they're big enough and this is a strong enough play for them, they will pay you a lot. How much is a lot? 10, 20, $30 million is possible on deals like this. (17:21): I know that sounds somewhat fantastical with the new technology, but especially if things are hot and you have information that's special, that's distinct, that's rare about how to make some new technology work in a particular industry and you think that somebody could really do well if they had control over it and you don't think they represent your future mass market, then go ahead and do one of these. Speaker 1 (17:46): We'll be back in a moment after a quick break. ConnectAndSell, welcome to the end of dialing as you know it. ConnectAndSell's patented technology loads your best sales folks up with eight to 10 times more live qualified conversations every day. And when we say qualified, we're talking about really qualified like knowing what kind of cheese they like on their impossible whopper kind of qualified. Learn more at connectandsell.com. And we're back. Chris Beall (18:25): These deals generally take about six weeks to do. You need to make it clear that your board of directors has told you to do a deal like this with one of three or four identified players, all of whom are competitors in that industry. You're going to do one deal and the phrase that you use is that everything's on the table. They will respond very positively if in fact this is something that appears to be of competitive advantage and otherwise they'll leave you cold. So it's a really easy qualifier. You won't get a lot of tire kickers on this one. So you do that deal and now you have to split your company in two. So one part pays a great deal of attention to your new visionary customer, really a partner at this point. And another part takes the feedback about your technology and thinks, "Hmm, where could we go in order to establish our technology packaged appropriately to do a job as a product?" (19:23): And that where we can go is across the chasm. The beauty now is that you have hopefully enough money to cross the chasm because as I said before, there is no revenue down there in the chasm. It's very, very dry. There's the bones of companies that have crossed or tried to cross the chasm and didn't make it. You're going to have to walk by them and you're going to shudder a little bit, but you got to realize, "Hey, over on the other side is the magic of the early market." It's the early market post chasm or early majority, and you're looking for somebody with a broken mission-critical business problem that you're pretty sure that your product along with whatever services are need to make it work, this is called a whole product, and it's all put together can actually solve that broken mission-critical business problem. (20:16): Now, everybody has these. They're all over the place. I mean, we'll never run out of broken mission-critical business problems. They sort of like rabbits, right? Every time something happens in the world that's new or different or somebody buys somebody or something is being obsoleted out or whatever, something's broken, it could be an internal problem that they have. It could be a problem with their go-to-market. It could be a problem in their supply chain. It could be a problem in their financial supply chain. It could be a problem with people. Who knows? You know because you know what your technology can do, but you're going to have to package it up as sort of a paper product that claims to solve this problem. Then you need to go to talk to folks who you think have this problem. And with some of them it will resonate and they'll say, "I actually have this problem." (21:07): Now you have an interesting problem. So your product isn't quite perfectly ready for prime time, so you need to take the minimum version of it and you need to round it out with services, make it a whole product, and then sell it to somebody. For how much? Well, you're actually going to price it down, and this is very counterintuitive to a lot of people. You're going to price it down because you're essentially buying the first customer's willingness to work with you because they're working for you and they are going to point out everything about your product that doesn't actually solve their problem. So you were able to describe the solution, but you weren't able to actually implement it quite perfectly. It's really hard to get everything right in a product and they're going to teach you, but by the time you're done, you'll actually have a product that is probably sellable to the number two person, and more importantly, you will have a reference. (22:04): And across the chasm, we tend to sell by reference. That's why it works. That is the slightly more cautious person will buy what the slightly more desperate person bought if it worked for them. And everybody knows who that is. Everybody knows who the lead dog is. So now you go from one to another to another. You get your product more complete, you get your references more robust, and eventually word of mouth starts to take over. And at that point, your market is probably pretty small. You want it to be pretty small. The edge of your market is everybody who will talk about it and refer somebody else to it as a solution to their broken mission-critical business problem. And so, hey, you just keep going until that market starts to run out. But well before that, you identify an adjacent market that is similar enough in terms of the broken mission-critical business process that you can solve, but different enough, maybe a different role. (23:07): So for instance, say you solve a problem in sales, you might want to go talk to customer success or say you're verticalized within banking, you might want to go talk to folks in insurance. You'll know how to do this. You just have to decide when to do it, otherwise you'll sort of plunge into a chasm of your own making. And after that, it is reasonably straightforward. Now you're into, I'll call it standard issue market dominance, like we talk about all the time on this show. That is you make a list, you call the list, you talk to people, you build trust, you recognize that only 1/12 of your market's in market in any given point because they've already solved the problem too recently using something else and you have to wait till the replacement cycle for their solution kind of plays out. And now you go and you dominate that market. (23:57): But if you don't get into the market, you don't get to dominate it. So while you can employ brute force techniques like we recommend at Market Dominance Guys, make a list, call the list, talk to people, build trust, have meetings. Also have folks come to your website because you talk to them, have them answer emails because you talk to them, have them connect to you socially because you ask them to and you just talk to them. All that good stuff you get to do, but you want to do that on across the chasm side primarily, and you'll feel it. It gets easier and easier and easier if you're across the chasm. If you're not, it just kind of stays the same. You can actually build very large pre-chasm companies. They sell weapons, not tools, but you've got to play the game a little bit differently. (24:46): You're actually doing an endless series of these sort of little visionary deals. They're little ones. They're not as big because you can't extract the big money for competitive advantage from folks that are competing with each other. It sounds like you could, and some have figured out how to do it. I mean, Google does this with Google Ads. They'll sell you the ad words or they'll help you with them, and then six months later, your number one competitor gets powered up by Google to compete with you with better or more powerful ad words that somehow yours have gone a little weak and back and forth it goes. It's very rare. If you do one of those, more power to you. You can own jet airplanes of your own and do all manner of things and have silly names for your products, and it'll all work out really great. (25:30): But if you're more of a standard issue, "Hey, I've got a new product or a new idea for a product with magic technology and I am hoping to take it to market," just remember you need to divide your market into two big pieces, pre-chasm and post chasm. Then you need to divide the pre-chasm into two pieces, tech enthusiasm, visionaries, then you got to make a very uncomfortable deal with one of the visionaries that's sufficient to fund your chasm crossing and you just saved your company from a whole round of financing by doing that, and you're still in control. (26:03): Then you need to make that list. But you've got to know that you solve a broken mission-critical business process before you make the list. Then you make the list and you get on something like ConnectAndSell, or you work with people like at Branch 49 or whatever, and you talk to people in order to get more and more folks to pay attention to the fact that, "Hey, there's a solution to this thing. And by the way, a bunch of people just like you have already bought that solution and they're quite happy with it." (26:33): So that's the end of this little episode. A little lesson. I feel like I've given it before on market dominance guys, but maybe not quite so straightforward away, and I thought even if I have, well, you know what they say, repetition is the mother of learning. So we just repeated it. And good luck to all of you mothers and fathers and others out there who are trying to take new stuff to market in the innovation economy. You're much needed.
EP204: Confidence Beats Technique in Sales Training
Nov 14 2023
EP204: Confidence Beats Technique in Sales Training
Alex McNaughten continues his visit with Chris to share psychological insights that challenge traditional sales training. As an AI entrepreneur, Alex emphasizes confidence should be the priority when onboarding salespeople, not technique. He advocates first building enough confidence just to "pick up the phone” and draws parallels between sales and coaching - both guide people through "the emotional journey to consider something new." Alex tells his story about overcoming fear in sales and boxing, noting most training overlooks the emotional side. He concludes that "so much sales training, particularly cold calling, is wrong or missing" these emotional components. Alex’s perspective as an AI builder brings a unique view on honing the emotional skills crucial for sales success. He advocates pushing sales leaders to transform training to address confidence and psychology first. Join them for this episode, “Confidence Beats Technique in Sales Training.” Links from this episode: Grw.ai Branch49 ConnectAndSell Alex McNaughten on LinkedIn Corey Frank on LinkedIn Chris Beall on LinkedIn   Full episode transcript below: ----more---- (00:21): Alex McNaughten continues his visit with Chris to share psychological insights that challenge traditional sales training. As an AI entrepreneur, Alex emphasizes confidence should be the priority when onboarding salespeople, not technique. (00:36): He advocates first building enough confidence just to pick up the phone, and draws parallels between sales and coaching. Both guide people through the emotional journey to consider something new. Alex tells his story about overcoming fear in sales and boxing, noting most training overlooks the emotional side. (00:55): He concludes that so much sales training, particularly cold calling, is wrong or missing these emotional components. Alex's perspective as an AI builder brings a unique view on honing the emotional skills crucial for sales success. He advocates pushing sales leaders to transform training to address confidence and psychology first. Join him and Chris for this episode, Confidence Beats Technique in Sales Training. Chris Beall (01:26): Yeah, so I think a CS team would be very interesting. And he loves trying new stuff. He's kind of like Corey in that regard, and I think CS might be as big a play as sales for Taylor. (01:39): In fact, I mean CS is the game in the world of SaaS. CAC is like, well, okay, great. But are you going to hold them, right? I know when somebody looks at a company, they don't start out asking, what's your effectiveness at acquiring customers? They ask, what's your net retention rate? Alex McNaughten (01:57): I think CS becomes more important in a tougher environment because it's much easier to sell more to your existing customers, and upsell them, rather than trying to bring on new ones for a lot of companies right now. (02:10): Thanks for teeing up this podcast, that was fun. 30 minutes goes quickly when you're just talking. It goes so fast. You think 30 minutes is a long time., It's really not. It flies past. Chris Beall (02:20): It is quick. Alex McNaughten (02:24): It's good, though. Because... Chris Beall (02:25): By the way. Yeah, I think that it's really interesting. We sometimes do these and we'll go an hour and a half, or something like that. And it's really interesting where the conversations end up going. We almost never go where we think we're going to go, which is great. So we don't think very hard about it, but they go by fast. They really do. Alex McNaughten (02:42): Yeah, that's the best part about it. It's often when a conversation just naturally flows. Chris, I just want to say a massive thank you for your support. You said some really lovely things about what we're doing, and I get the sense that you genuinely believe and are excited by what we're building. Which is really cool, and it's the early supporters that I think really make a company. It's those folks who kind of get it before 90% of the world gets it. I really appreciate it, and thank you. Let's keep going on the journey together. We're going to build something big. Chris Beall (03:13): I feel very fortunate that we got to talk in the first place. Just watching the demo, most demos don't do much for me because they're about buttons. And buttons aren't very interesting. Push this button, this thing happens. And they're generally about feeding the monster or making pretty pictures, neither one of which is interesting to me. You feed the CRM system or whatever all day long, and then you ask it for pretty pictures, and then you pretend the pretty pictures are going to change your life and they don't. That's kind of the history of enterprise software kind of in a nutshell. (03:45): We do something at ConnectAndSell that actually does something. It's a doing thing, it's not a looking and thinking and whatever thing. And what I was drawn to in the simple demo was the emotional content. (04:01): And my view of sales is pretty simple, which is we're facilitators of an emotional journey. Alex McNaughten (04:07): Yep. Chris Beall (04:07): That someone else needs to go on in order to be comfortable enough that they can consider the possibility of something new. And that's what we do in sales. And I don't know why not everybody gets it. It's like Anthony Iannarino gets it. You read Elite Sales Strategies, that's what it's about. The Jolt Effect guys, they get it. It's all producing the reality and the perception of risk on the part of the other person, the potential buyer, so they can move forward. You're actually an enabler of something that can't be done without your help. (04:43): I used to teach people how to rock climb. And to be a modern rock climber, even in the gym, the number one thing you have to learn how to do is trust the rope. And experienced climbers can't go back in time, back to when they didn't trust the rope. So they start in the wrong place. They start with technique. (05:05): And they start by saying, do this, do that. Try this, try that. But the thing you need to do, and I think this is identical to what we do in sales, is you need to help that person who is properly naturally afraid of falling. It's not incorrect to be afraid of falling. (05:23): I can tell you from experience, I once took a little fall on a mountain of about 800 feet. The chances of walking away from them are pretty close to zero. It was not something I would ask somebody else to give a try to. Why don't you go jump on that chunk of tilted ice and see what happens when you go head-first into the rocks at 70 miles an hour? (05:44): And so I knew as a young rock climber that the fear of falling is a good thing, not a bad thing. But when I taught people, I would just teach first to trust the rope. And the way I'd do it is this, go up one foot, step off. (06:00): It's kind of silly, right? Well, I wouldn't have gotten hurt without the rope. Yeah, well, you're going to learn to trust the rope. We do that until it's boring. Then go up two feet, step off, go up three feet and step off. Alex McNaughten (06:09): That's interesting. Chris Beall (06:10): When you're so bored with that, then you're ready to have your mind open to what's the most effective way to rest? So let's go up to that three-foot level, and let's try different ways of resting. Because the other thing you're going to be afraid of is running out of gas. Because you're going to run out of gas when you're climbing. That's the first thing that happens. Speaker 1 (06:33): We'll be back in a moment after a quick break. (06:35): Selling a big idea to a skeptical customer, investor, or partner is one of the hardest jobs in business. So when it's time to really go big, you need to use an uncommon methodology to gain attention, frame your thoughts, and employ successful sequencing that is fresh enough to convince others that your ideas will truly change their world. (06:54): From crafting just the right cold call screenplays, to curating and mapping the ideal call list for your entire tam, Branch 49's modern and innovative sales toolbox offers a guiding hand to ambitious organizations in their quest to reach market dominance. Learn more at branchfortynine.com. (07:20): And we're back. Alex McNaughten (07:22): It makes you rethink learning journeys. My experience with boxing is quite similar. Is that I wish more time had been spent upfront on overcoming the natural fear of being punched in the face. Because it's very jarring, because you start with all the technique, and the punches, and the movement. And then you move to that, and you suddenly sparring. But your natural instinct is to shut your eyes when you see a punch coming at you. Of course it is. (07:53): But I wish that, when I was younger, someone had spent time with me on that fear, because it would've made everything a lot easier later on. And I think most learning journeys are like that, and I think we leave the emotional side out of it. Chris Beall (08:08): And in sales it's all we're doing. We're helping somebody overcome their correct natural fear of trying something. Alex McNaughten (08:21): Well, so is coaching. Chris Beall (08:22): We treat it like it's not correct, but it is correct. They should be afraid. They should be concerned. Alex McNaughten (08:27): But that's exactly the same as coaching. I think your description of sales as the emotional journey to help someone consider the possibility of something new, I think replace the word sales with coaching, and it's exactly the same. (08:40): And I think that's where most people go wrong, is they focus far too much effort and attention on knowledge, and product features if they're teaching someone something, and they actually forget that, especially when you bring a new person into a sales role, probably the number one thing you want to focus on is actually just their confidence. It is arguably the first thing you want to do, is just get them confident enough to pick up the phone in the first place. (09:09): And then you can worry about the specifics of technique and product features, et cetera, and that builds over time. But yeah, anyway, that's given me a thought. That's kind of got my mind racing actually, in terms of conversational design. But that's going to take me somewhere. Chris Beall (09:28): By the way, do you know about how we do our flight schools? It's so unusual. We do exactly what you said. So we run a thing called flight school, and flight school takes reps who are hesitant, uncertain. Maybe they think they're pretty good, maybe not. But it's about cold-calling. (09:46): We deal first with the issues around fear by making it clear at the very beginning, most of the fear is actually on the other side. You're the scary thing. The reason that you're afraid of cold calling is you're afraid of being scary. You're afraid of being thrown out of the village. You have a deep, primal fear of being exiled. (10:09): And so there's no place in the environment of evolution where we would interrupt a stranger, because there were no strangers. We have no mental, emotional machinery that prepares us to be the bad thing. Which is, in this case, the invisible stranger interrupting somebody. (10:28): And the way we overcome that is first we accept that's who we are. Second, we accept that experts have actually figured out a way to turn that fear the other person has into trust, and to do it a hundred percent of the time using the same approach. So that now your journey is not about your product or anything, it's just about, can I say something in seven seconds in such a way that causes a stranger that I've just frightened to trust me? (11:01): That's a much more interesting job then, go sell a product, or go set a meeting. And it's really fun to learn how to do it. I teach people how to do a dumb thing with the cork, hold it sideways, wine cork, bounce it and have it stand up. They're not aware it can be done. Once they see it done, it becomes interesting, right? It's a dumb little thing. But it's a thing that, when you see it, you go, ooh, that can be done. (11:25): And when you see this, seven seconds happen repeatedly ... So we coach for two-and-a-half hours with full conversations, by the way. But we only coach it for seven seconds. We let them fall on the rope over, and over, and over until they get confident in the rope. Which is, the rope is, I can get somebody from their fear to trusting me in seven seconds a hundred percent of the time. (11:51): At which point the rest of this is now just, can I get them curious about taking a meeting? There's not much left. Alex McNaughten (11:58): So interesting, right? We talked about this last time and you just described it. Again, it just makes me think that so much of sales training, particularly the cold-calling phase, is wrong. Or just missing a key part of the equation. But this has been great. Thank you.
EP203: AI Coaching Conversations Elicit Unfiltered Rep Feedback
Nov 8 2023
EP203: AI Coaching Conversations Elicit Unfiltered Rep Feedback
The guys are tackling the big question on every sales manager's mind: Could AI replace me? With wisdom and reassurance, Corey and Chris explore the power of Taylor, an AI sales coach created by grw.ai CEO Alex McNaughten. Taylor provides a judgment-free space for reps to vent frustrations and surface red flags managers miss. As Chris explains, Taylor's conversational skills elicit "confessions" from reps. And for managers worried an AI could do their job better, Alex gently says: "The goal here is to make leaders better...not replace them." So breathe easy sales managers, and get ready to be 10-50X more effective. With the power of AI augmentation Sales Managers will be unstoppable. Join us for this episode, AI Coaching Conversations Elicit Unfiltered Rep Feedback. About Our Guest: Alex McNaughten - CEO/Founder - Grw.ai With a background in B2B sales for both Kiwi startups and US tech giants, Alex is passionate about increasing the level of professionalism & performance in B2B selling globally. Prior to Apprento, through his advisory firm, he trained hundreds of founders, executives and sales professionals and worked across over 130+ ANZ businesses from pre-revenue startups like SafeStack Academy, to growth companies like Rocos to large multinationals like Vodafone, helping them to reduce their sales costs, speed sales cycles, maximize win rates, build out teams, expand into new markets and ultimately generate $10s of millions in new revenues. Links from this episode: Grw.ai Branch49 ConnectAndSell Alex McNaughten on LinkedIn Corey Frank on LinkedIn Chris Beall on LinkedIn   Full episode transcript below: ----more---- (00:23): The Market Dominance Guys are tackling the big question on every sales manager's mind. Could AI replace me? With wisdom and reassurance, Corey and Chris explore the power of Taylor, an AI sales coach created by grw.ai, that's G-R-W-A-I, CEO Alex McNaughten. Taylor provides a judgment-free space for reps to vent frustrations and surface red flags managers miss. (00:47): As Chris explains, Taylor's conversational skills elicit confessions from reps. And for managers worried an AI could do their job better, Alex gently says, the goal here is to make leaders better, not replace them. So breathe easy sales managers, and get ready to be 10 to 50 times more effective. With the power of AI augmentation, sales managers will be unstoppable. Join us for this episode, AI Coaching Conversations Elicit Unfiltered Rep Feedback. Corey Frank (01:22): And here we are once again. Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys. It's episode 200 and something. We'll just say 200X episode of the Market Dominance Guys. As always, we have the sage of sales, the prophet of profit, and the Hawking of hawking. Chris Beall to my left or right, depended on where in the audience you are sitting right now. And we also have a guest. So Alex McNaughton, fresh over the pond. Do you call the Pacific the pond, or the Atlantic is the pond. I don't know what the Pacific is. But anyway, he's somewhere in the land of the Hobbits in New Zealand. I don't know if you were in Auckland, but welcome to Alex McNaughton, the CEO of Grw.ai, and he's going to talk to me and Chris about his company and some of the changes and trends that he's been seeing. So first off, good afternoon, Chris. Good afternoon, Alex. Chris, how you been? Chris Beall (02:15): I'm been good. I'm down here south of you right now, in southern Arizona. Not as far south as Alex. He's so far southeast, he's an antipodal upside-down kind of guy. I'm looking to see the blood rushing to his head anytime soon. Alex McNaughten (02:28): About as south as you can be in the world. Chris Beall (02:30): Yeah, yeah. And still have a nice climate. That's what's kind of weird. How you guys get away with that in New Zealand is entirely beyond me. As you know, Corey, my sister Theresa once executed the most brilliant business I've ever seen. She flew to New Zealand to the South island. She bought a horse, a retired racehorse, and tacked to go with it. Rode it around for three months. A product of that was a trail horse. Trail horses are worth a great deal on the South Island. She sold said trail horse for enough to pay for the entire trip and then went up, spent two months on the North Island, hitchhiking around among friendly people. I still think if you want to see bootstrapped, she was wearing boots. Alex McNaughten (03:15): That's awesome. Corey Frank (03:17): So Alex, tell us a little bit about Grw.ai and what kind of rundown [inaudible 00:03:23] did you stumble into meet a guy like Chris, besides LinkedIn, of course. Alex McNaughten (03:27): Well firstly, guys, thanks to have me on the podcast. It's good to be here. How did I meet Chris? I think this was a podcast introductory conversation or just a LinkedIn conversation, that I've been running a podcast for a few years and it's brought me to some interesting places and brought me to some very interesting people. (03:49): And in terms of Grw.ai, we are very early days. We're four months into this journey. I've got two very, very smart co-founders, Alistair and Dan. Alistair's a machine learning Masters from Cambridge University, and Dan is a full-stack engineer and data scientist by trade. And we are building a performance management platform for sales teams actually focused on performance. And really this came about because I've worked with about 150, give or take, B2B SaaS companies predominantly over the last four years. I accidentally built a go-to-market advisory and then I built a sales training and recruitment company down here in New Zealand. And we noticed that they were all using, I guess what you'd consider traditional HR performance management platforms, but they weren't aligned to performance, had nothing to do with what was being measured and actually weren't very helpful for sales teams specifically. (04:40): So we started building Grw to give leaders and managers better insight into their teams, help them manage more people, and really just help them be better leaders. And then the final thing I'll say on that, for now anyway, and you might have some questions, is we also noticed 95% of sales leaders have had no sales leadership training, so they're really struggling and I'm really passionate about this. Sales is, we're the people who bring the business and keep the lights on. And when you've got 95% of the people leading those teams who haven't been supported in the best possible way, that's a recipe for disaster. Corey Frank (05:15): Chris, we've spoken about this several times. Particularly I think, Alex, I know you're a fan of something that's near and dear to our hearts here at the Market Dominance Guys is particularly after the top of funnel, the discovery process. And Chris has some interesting things to say about where a lot of folks are focusing on top of funnel, which is a good place to start. But it's also, Chris, you talk a little bit, much more elegantly than I about the discovery and how critical it is to be trained there, to have feedback there, to have visibility there. So Chris, and I know you've taken a look a little bit about Alex's platform, but first off, for the audience and for Alex to level set, your opinions on the discovery and where some of the needs are there that perhaps Alex is addressing with Grw. Chris Beall (05:57): Yeah, I think that one of the goals of any sales organization should be to shove the bottleneck of the entire company down into discovery. It tends to sit just above the top of the funnel. So we kind of built this whole podcast around the notion of, hey, you can beat everybody if you can solve that one problem because now you actually have got increased flow and improved targeting and the ability to go out and characterize markets and expand where it makes sense to expand and withdraw of where it makes no sense to go. (06:26): We have some episodes about discovery, and we call it the confessional. So the idea of discovery is to have the other person get in an emotional state where they will confess to you what's really going on with them. And if that happens, then you immediately get an increase in flow rate through discovery and an increase in quality, and probably a decrease in cycle time. So when we're looking at systems, we care about those three things a great deal, throughput, quality and cycle time, and we address all of them by making discovery into a proper confessional where somebody is comfortable confessing. (07:05): What Alex and his team have done, which is fascinating to me, is they've made the sales manager, sales rep one-on-one into something that, by taking the sales manager out of it, this is really quite interesting and ironic to me. By taking the sales manager out of the first level discussions about deals, which is what reps tend to focus on, they actually have come up with a way of eliciting a confession from the rep. And it's not just a confession about how they're doing in the deal. I mean you can do deals well or poorly or whatever all day long, but as we can still call her the fetching Ms. Fenucci, even though she's now the Chief Revenue Officer of Mediafly and kind of too professional to be the fetching, but well, sorry Helen, we're just going to fetch you up just a little bit. She reminded me this morning when I got her coffee. She said, "You're the one who's doing the fetching." I said, "Yes, I fetch you and I pour." (08:01): But it's interesting, when I was observing Alex demoing to me, it reminded me of a very old program, not in how it's built, it's very, the freshest generative AI, super smart, getting smarter about the conversation, but the conversation has a great deal of lightness for the rep. (08:19): The very first word my eyes fell on when Alex was demoing to me was the word frustration. The rep was frustrated at how a deal was going, right? Well, that's not actually a deal term. You being frustrated about a deal is not part of the deal. This is your problem, not his problem. But the love your team approach says, no, your problem is your manager's problem. And your emotional problems, your life problems, your direction that you want to go, your ambitions, how you feel you're being supported, who's taken the notes. Remember when Helen told us once she took notes when her people would be presenting internally to the big bosses so they could focus. Even though she is the boss, she's taking notes, a little servant leadership there. All that stuff comes together. (09:06): I believe Grw.ai has come up with something really interesting. It's a way to get information compressed at about a 30 to one ratio into the brain of the sales manager by being able to get the extract from the interaction between the sales rep and the bot in question, which I'll let Alex talk about. But then there's another thing that happens, which is there's a softness about that relationship because the rep doesn't fear the bot. And so the rep starts telling their emotional truth to the bot. And there was a program called Eliza written many, many years ago that is a Rogerian non-directive therapist written in a hundred lines of code or something like that. And everybody I know who used it, and I had hundreds of people use it because I was so interested in it, ended up confessing to it. And that was a hundred lines of code. (10:01): So there's some hidden magic in interacting with a bot that it feels enough like a human, but isn't your boss. That you can actually relax and tell it the truth. And you know me in the Lonely Minds Club, right? CEOs live in the Lonely Minds Club because everybody lies to us. Well, sales managers, everybody lies to them too. So they're not well-trained and everybody lies to them. It's a tough combo. I don't know. What do you think about that, Alex? Alex McNaughten (10:29): Yeah, so just to give a touch more context, as part of our platform we've built Taylor, and Taylor is an AI powered performance coach specific for sales teams. And the sales teams have one-on-one conversations with Taylor on a regular basis with our early design partners, that's every two weeks. (10:47): And the behaviors we've noticed from the team is super interesting. We've seen people spend up to 45 minutes talking to Taylor. On average it's about 20, but we've seen up to 45 minutes in a single session. And there's an unbelievable amount of rich data that come out of those conversations. You imagine you're a sales manager with a team of 10, the reality is you don't have the time to do one-on-one across the team and get to that level of detail all the time. (11:14): So I think, Chris, your description of how it compresses information for the sales leader 30 to one, that's probably fairly accurate. We haven't measured the exact compression, but in terms of time compression, it probably is something like that. (11:26): And the other things we've noticed that's really interesting is even though the sales team know that their leader, and even their leader of leaders, will see insights from these conversations, they're extremely honest, if not more honest than they would be with a real human. So yeah, it's super exciting and I'm pumped because what we're able to do now is stuff that typically I would be doing as a person going into organizations to help them. Technology is allowing us to scale that, but do it better because the great thing about Taylor AI powered coach is memory across all conversations, across all the team, and it never forgets anything. So it can actually be more effective than a human in a lot of respects. Corey Frank (12:12): How did you overcome the empathy? As we've spoken about many times, when you're giving feedback, you can't just give the, Chris and I had a conversation yesterday, we were talking about the old English aphorism where it's soft words, hard arguments, and that it's not versus hard, sharp words. But I bet that process to make it accessible, to make it connect emotionally from an empathetic perspective on the feedback was a challenge. I find that fascinating to find out how you've evolved that and tested that. Alex McNaughten (12:44): So it's moved very quickly. So we started with surveys a few months ago, was where we started. The problem is you don't get very good data and we realized that that was not good data and horrible experience for people to interact with, which is more important, reason why we moved away from that. And then really we've just built, tested, learned, iterated again and again and again over many, many, many cycles. And then also drawing from my experience because I've personally coached hundreds and hundreds of people. So just trying to embed it with as much of the learnings I've had through my 11 years in sales and then sales coaching. (13:20): So it's probably a mixture of, I guess, some psychology, some science, and then a little bit of art in terms of the testing and learning and the feel of it, to get it to a point now where it's able to coach in a human way and give feedback in a way that isn't jarring, which often having a conversation with an AI can feel quite jarring. And I'd say that's something that we are, I wouldn't say we've a hundred percent nailed it, but it's moving in the right direction fast. We're only kind of five months in. Corey Frank (13:54): Well yesterday, or I think this morning, there's the news here, in the States at least, Alex, that Bobby Knight was a very famous, very successful basketball coach at the college level for many, many years. One of the all time winning college basketball coach. And he had a very sardonic sense of humor, demeanor, very aggressive when it came to discipline with his players. He's frustrated, throws a chair across the court, grabbed one of his players by the throat. Nothing that we endorse as sales leaders of course. But very antagonistic and very Lin Subardi-esque to raise the bar of his folks. His famous phrase was, "I want it more than you do and that's a problem." (14:35): And Chris and I talked yesterday about a lot of leaders who are all about conviction, conviction, conviction, right Chris? And it's just boom, boom, boom. And I would imagine from a coaching perspective, Chris, you have some thoughts on this about introverts versus extroverts in sales, in that fine line, Alex, to build a platform that can talk to both types of sales personas. Chris, anything to add to that from the perspective of find that nuance of a coaching mechanism that speaks to both styles? Chris Beall (15:06): Yeah, I think there's three things in play here. One is Bobby Knight had an advantage. You couldn't very well transfer from the team you were playing on to some other team. And so you were kind of stuck, if you wanted to get into the NBA or you wanted to even have a successful college career, your foot was nailed to the floor and you were pivoting in circles, which people do in basketball a lot. And he'd really be pissed off and tell you were acting like your feet were nailed to the floor even when you were moving as fast as you could. (15:34): So in the modern world, salespeople can go work for whomever they want and the best ones can work, literally just write their ticket and do whatever they want, wherever they want. So you start acting like that and you're going to get down to the ones who like it, who like that kind of abuse, which is there are people who like that kind of thing, but not most high performers. (15:54): Secondly, I think this business of introverts and extroverts, I think introverts make better salespeople in general if they can bring energy, and energy is orthogonal to conviction. You don't need to persuade somebody just to be energetic in a conversation. You can be very present, very energetic, and yet very open-minded about what is the best thing to happen next. You don't need to be driving towards your end. And one thing we know about everybody, and it's salespeople and customers and everybody else, is when you push on them, they push back. They might push back overtly, they might push back covertly and they may wait and push in the way in which the back that they're pushing on is yours and they're doing it with a knife. (16:41): So there's a lot of issues that get buried in this short-term desire to get it done right now. And I think that it's one of the things I really liked about, again, I had a short demo with Alex, but I loved thinking about how an introverted salesperson who's really, really good would have fun exploring the ideas that Taylor is willing to bring out and would be encouraged. One of the things that... you got to check this thing out, Corey. Taylor actually says encouraging things to you, but only when Taylor thinks they're the things that you're doing that makes sense. And you're always doing something that makes sense, or you wouldn't be in the deal. Most sales managers never do that. They never tell you what you're doing right. And so there's an encouragement factor that I think works across a broader range of sales personalities, including the best personalities, which are high energy introverts. Susan Finch (17:37): We'll be back in a moment after a quick break. (17:48): ConnectAndSell. Welcome to the end of dialing as you know it. ConnectAndSell's patented technology loads your best sales folks up with eight to 10 times more live-qualified conversations every day. And when we say qualified, we're talking about really qualified, like knowing what kind of cheese they like on their Impossible Whopper kind of qualified. Learn more at connectandsell.com. (18:12): And we're back with Corey and Chris. Alex McNaughten (18:18): There's a few things I'd add to that. I think coaching in its purest form is not telling people what to do, it's helping them to get to the answers on their own, typically through smart questioning. So I think that's kind of really the starting point for a lot of what we've built here was with that kind of lens of coaching. (18:39): And then what Chris just said there around validation is super important. And this was a surprise to us. We didn't think that people would feel good with an AI-powered bot effectively saying to someone, "Hey, well done. That was smart, that was a good thing to do." But we've noticed that a number of the early users have been telling us, and they were surprised themselves that it actually felt good. It felt good to get validation from something that wasn't human. And that's probably partially due to the fact that, like you said, most of them don't get that from their boss regularly. (19:15): And it's not that their boss doesn't care, it's that their boss is stretched. Sales leaders are so stretched, they have way too many reports a lot of the time that they can handle. They don't know much about leadership in general, other than what they've been able to intuit over time. Corey Frank (19:33): Alex- Alex McNaughton (19:34): Yeah, jump in. Corey Frank (19:35): You bring up a great point. I'm sorry to step on your feet. I'm curious as a sales, am I threatened by this? How do I make this my friend? How do I amplify the results, because my gosh, what if my people, God forbid, they like AI better than they like me because I'm a sales manager who got into this because I have a high need for approval. Maybe I wasn't the best closer, and for the insecure folks in the audience like me, how do I deal with that? This sounds too good here to put me out of a job, potentially. Alex McNaughten (20:04): No, so the goal here is to make leaders better and make their experience as a leader better for them as well. So the early customers and leaders who are using this are saying, this is helping me make better and faster decision. It's helping me uncover things I didn't even know were going on in my team, but I can actually fix, and it's helping me to know where to focus on and who to focus on across my team. Who needs the help most at an individual level and how can I help the team as a whole. (20:33): And then it also from a feeling threatened perspective, I think, and Chris actually put it to me, he said, and I'm going to butcher exactly how you said it, but you said something along the lines of, "There's an inherent fragility in relying on technology for everything in a team environment," and things that can sometimes unexpectedly happen, and that's what the human there is for, is to deal with the unexpected. Technology can't solve absolutely everything. And I fundamentally believe that there is, even in an AI world, there is a space for great leadership. And I think technology actually just helps them be 10, 20, 50 times better to their team and ultimately drive performance. And that's probably the final thing, is a sales leader who's getting better results out of their team and hitting a better number themselves, I think that's going to feel good irrespective of whether you've got an AI coach in the mix supporting you. Corey Frank (21:27): Yeah, yeah. Well we know that Tony Stark was made a much better superhero with the voice at his head and the Jarvis that was rattling around his brain. Alex McNaughten (21:36): That's it, right? Corey Frank (21:38): [inaudible 00:21:38]. So I can see it. Alex McNaughten (21:40): That's it. Maybe that's the analogy. We should use the Ironman suit for sales managers. Chris Beall (21:44): Yeah, we already have it for sales reps, so you can borrow it from us. That was actually something that came out of serious decisions. One of their senior analysts about 10 years ago came over physically for an hour and a half with us. And at the end he said, "You guys have an Ironman suit for sales, don't you?" Well, it goes fast and lets you shoot stuff that you want to shoot, so I guess so. I don't know, does it smell good when you get out of it? We don't really know. That's another question entirely we have deal with. (22:13): Corey, you bring up a really good point. The question is, does this feel threatening to sales leaders? I actually suspect it won't. And in fact, I think there's a sales leader's version of this, of Taylor, where the questions that you're asking, the challenges, the frustrations are about the team themselves. And you are thinking of doing things like the things like are in the 17 chapters of that Love Your Team book where the question is, should I go this direction or that direction? Does this need this meeting or this conversation or that conversation? (22:45): My guess is, Taylor's going to expand fairly quickly to handle those conversations too. And nobody likes confessing to their boss, nobody likes being made fun of. In the world of sales, by the way, there's a lot of athletes that come out of trash talk land and they think trash talking is just like having fun with folks. Your entire team might not love being trash-talked at, to be called names or whatever it happens to be that was a big deal in the court or on the field where it just seems natural to folks who kind of grew up in competitive athletics. Well, not everybody in sales is a former competitive athlete from the field. In fact, some of the best in the world never did any of that stuff. They're very different kind of people and they don't take well to that particular style of interaction. (23:38): And one of the things that I think is so interesting about Taylor is, Taylor will challenge you clearly. Have you thought about this, but have you thought about... What do you think about this? You're doing this, but have you considered this? Right? And most sales leaders aren't comfortable enough in their own skin to say stuff like that. And if they came out of the world of trash talk, they can't resist having that little dig. So I think there's a lot here to be said for, think of it in the large, AI is a safe person to talk to, a bot is a safe person to talk to, because they can't fire you and they're not going to make fun of you. (24:16): And those are two pretty big deals when it comes to people feeling good about their own job. Because in sales, you've got to really feel good about yourself in order to help somebody else along the emotional journey they need to go on in order to have both real and perceived risk reduction to the point where they'll take the next step with you. And if you're feeling risk yourself as the sales rep, that feeling of risk is going to transmit itself directly to your prospect and they're going to be less likely to move forward with you because it doesn't feel right. (24:52): So where does your confidence come from? Well, it can't just come from inside. I mean, going to a sensory deprivation tank sometime and see how long it is before you're hallucinating like crazy. We don't stay sane because of what's going on inside of us. We stay sane because of what we're getting from the outside. And getting consistent positive affirmation from the outside that's not silly, is actually very helpful for all human beings to maintain their sanity and their confidence. Alex McNaughten (25:20): There's something in that, and that's one of the real motivators and drivers for me with this business is I've noticed over the years and across all these teams that I've just seen genuine human pain and frustration at a team level, at both leader and individual contributor level. And I think we can do better and I think that's the exciting thing that technology can unlock. And the salespeople who've been using Taylor have been telling us things like, this is positively confronting. This is helping me think about things, this is helping me learn. And it's a place I can go vent as well and let off some steam. (25:52): So it's really exciting. I'm so pumped for the next 10 years of business technology, one, what we are doing, but two, what other kind of opportunities we're going to be able to see in this space and this world of generative AI. So yeah, I think teams will fundamentally change and I think it can be a real catalyst for teams to change way for the better than where they're at right now. Corey Frank (26:14): Well that's wonderful. I agree. And what I hear both of you saying is that my job is relatively safe and I should not fear the reaper just yet from the AI bots taking over my job. (26:24): Okay, well we're going to leave it there. So Alex, thank you so much for wrapping some time. We'd love to have you as a standing guest here at the Market Dominance Guys, since I imagine the data that the team is going to compile here over the coming months or so is going to be incredibly valuable to everybody in our profession. So for Chris Beall, this is Corey Frank from the Market Dominance Guys. Alex McNaughten (26:49): Thanks for having me.
EP202: Keeping Teams Future-Focused and Failure-Ready
Nov 1 2023
EP202: Keeping Teams Future-Focused and Failure-Ready
In the last episode, our Sales sultans, Corey and Chris tackled the folly of chasing too many shiny objects. Now, Chris shares pragmatic insights on building resilient teams for the marathon versus the sprint. Should staff know the messy truths from day one? Chris believes people need full commitment to the mission.  Does solidarity trump balance sheet bravado when attempting bold new initiatives?  Chris says,  "I think people love to look at stuff because looking at stuff is lower risk than doing stuff. Doing stuff is very high risk. You could fail.” As Corey noted, presentations often overlook the people who drive innovation. Corey reminds us, “The people elements, traits, personas don't live on the balance sheet.” Here’s a question posed, "When you go to a potluck, do you only eat the food you brought first?"  Listen as they tackle tough topics like letting go of personnel clinging to the past versus embracing the unknown future in episode 202 of Market Dominance Guys, “ Keeping Teams Future-Focused and Failure-Ready.’   Full episode transcript below: ----more---- Susan Finch (00:05): Welcome to another session with the Market Dominance Guys, a program exploring all the high stakes speed bumps and off-ramps of driving to the top of your market, with our hosts, Chris Beall from ConnectAndSell and Corey Frank from Branch49. (00:21): The last episode, these sales consultants, Corey and Chris, tackled the folly of chasing too many shiny objects. Now, Chris shares pragmatic insights on building resilient [00:00:30] teams for the marathon versus the sprint. Should staff know the messy truths from day one? Chris believes people need a full commitment to the mission. Does solidarity trump balance sheet bravado when attempting bold new initiatives? Chris says, "I think people love to look at stuff, because looking at stuff is lower risk than doing stuff. Doing stuff is very high risk, and you could fail." (00:53): As Corey noted, presentations often overlook the people who drive innovation. He reminds us the [00:01:00] people elements, traits, personas, don't live on the balance sheet. (01:04): Here's a question posed. When you go to a potluck, do you only eat the food you brought first? Listen as they tackle tough topics, like letting go of personnel clinging to the past versus embracing the unknown future, in episode 202 of Market Dominance Guys, Keeping Teams Future-Focused and Failure-Ready. Corey Frank (01:30): [00:01:30] What would you suggest, as far as the level of candor, at an early stage, with your people, all the people, about what's our most profitable product or least profitable product, what's fungible and what's not, how we make money, do you believe and have you evolved and have you seen other scenarios where they want to just keep it to the C-suite, and you're just a team member, and here's your myopic [00:02:00] vision? Or do you believe, and success is contingent on everybody knowing exactly what they signed up for, if they're going to go off the earth on search of these new worlds? Chris Beall (02:10): Oh, I believe deeply. For me, it's at the interview process. The first time I ever said this to anybody in an interview, I was probably in my early 30s, and I said, "By the time you get to me, it's assumed that you're competent. They don't send incompetent people to be interviewed by me. [00:02:30] Well, that doesn't happen, so therefore, you're competent. So I'm not going to ask you any questions to assess your competence. What I want to do is make it clear to you what you're getting into, and it's going to be your choice whether you want to get in or not. And I'm good either way. So I know you're good enough to do the job. Now I'm going to tell you about the real job, and the real job is doing really hard things." (02:53): "So one, we're likely to fail, so you have to accept that we're likely to fail. Why do I think we're likely to fail? Because [00:03:00] otherwise, we wouldn't be doing this. Somebody else would've already done it who is less skilled, determined, insightful, clever or whatever than us. So we're going to do something hard, and hard things generally fail, so you're signing up for failure. So recognize that. But we're going to persist. We're probably going to have a good time. So two, you're signing up to have a good time. Why? Because otherwise, we can't do something so hard that we're likely to fail. It just doesn't work. It doesn't work [00:03:30] to come in all glum and morose, and everything's got to be great, otherwise, I got a bad day. I don't want to hear about your bad day. There are no bad days in the sense of going after the mission. We're just going to do it. So we're going to be enthusiastically wrong every day. That's going to be our thing, enthusiastically wrong every day. We're going to say, 'If we're not having fun, we're not taking this seriously enough,' So we're going to do that." (03:53): "And third is, we're going to make a weird sacrifice. I've made it. You'll have to make it too. [00:04:00] That is, we're going to do uncomfortable things when it's time to do them, and we're going to lay them out, what they are. So some of them are we don't get to sell to the people we want to sell to, and some of them are we don't get to build the stuff we want to build, and some of them are, we don't get to go fast when it's time to go slow. They're like that. There are those sorts of things. And we're signing up to do those things when it's time to do them." (04:24): "You might notice they all have an interesting feature. They're all in order to reduce [00:04:30] the risk of failure because this is likely to fail. If we don't reduce the risk of failure, we're going to fail for sure. So your career, during this period, is going to be built entirely on our success, not on the skills you gather, which you will gather skills, it's magic, it happens, or the people you meet, but you will meet people. You'll have networks. None of that stuff is the purpose of what we're doing. If our purpose is to make you better, we would've had to have been [00:05:00] bigger already and on a mission where we can't fail, but that's not this mission. This is a mission where we're likely to fail." (05:08): So here's the test, then I tell people this, and people are appalled still to this day. If you come to me at some point, and you say, "Hey, I want to go to a conference in order to increase my skills, meet some people or do whatever," I'll remind you of this conversation. The second time you do it, I'll fire you. They go, "Oh." It's like, but if you want to go on a mission with some folks and try to do a hard thing, [00:05:30] you won't die after all, everybody probably will advance professionally because people respect people who do hard things. They do. And you learn real stuff doing hard things. (05:42): But the hardest of the hard things are making the transition from one stage of the company to the other. And there's only one person who's going to declare that that's something that has to happen. That's me. And you're accepting that coming in. I'm the guesser. When we must guess, and this is always a guess, I'm the guesser, [00:06:00] and you have to accept that my guesses are the truth. And it's corrupt. I get it. But mathematically, there's no other way to pull it off. Just can't be done. Somebody's got to be the guesser, and you're talking to him. Corey Frank (06:16): It seems that when you look at a business model, a company, in X years, we're going to have the hockey stick. We're going to have the J-curve. We're going to have all this, that. Without those elements, what you just described [00:06:30] of the type of people, without even talking about it, because there's many investment presentations you and I have been part of where it's all about the product. It's all about the market. It's all about the margins. It's all about the executables. But it's rarely about the people besides the little bubbles of the three founders or the person who's in charge of your innovation or the person who's in charge of your delivery. But you don't get into that level of persona, that level of first-born, [00:07:00] second-born, last-born, that dynamic of risk-taker, thar be dragons type of courage. And it seems like there should be in your world, correct? Susan Finch (07:13): We'll be back in a moment after a quick break. (07:16): Selling a big idea to a skeptical customer, investor or partner is one of the hardest jobs in business. So when it's time to really go big, you need to use an uncommon methodology to gain attention, frame your thoughts and employee successful sequencing that is fresh [00:07:30] enough to convince others that your ideas will truly change their world. From crafting just the right cold call screenplays to curating and mapping the ideal call list for your entire team, Branch49's modern and innovative sales toolbox offers a guiding hand to ambitious organizations in their quest to reach market dominance. Learn more at branch49.com. (08:00): [00:08:00] And we're back with Corey and Chris. Chris Beall (08:03): It's kind of the whole game. It's kind of the whole game. I look at our company, the thing I'm really proud of about our company is the average tenure of people who are leading our company or doing important jobs is 11.2 years. My tenure is just over 12 years. Corey Frank (08:19): At a SaaS software company. Chris Beall (08:20): At a SaaS software. Corey Frank (08:21): Yeah, that's amazing. Chris Beall (08:23): And the reason is not that we pay them extra. I think we do okay. The reason is they signed up for the mission. They're serious [00:08:30] about the mission. The mission is the mission. We're actually trying to help with this big problem, which is it's really hard to make businesses work, to make the innovation economy work, unless folks trust each other, and they won't trust each other to do that thing that they need to do, which is the risky buy, unless that trust is produced somehow consistently through conversations. That's our mission. (08:57): And it's fun to be part of. We don't have a [00:09:00] mission statement. We don't talk about the mission, blah, blah, blah. It's literally in our blood. At this point, it's in the organization's blood. And so somebody who might want to work with us, they might sense that, but what we know is there's a bunch of stuff we don't have to worry about. There's a bunch of stuff we don't have to think about. We can operate at the level of minute details about things like, oh, with fast phone numbers, the score [00:09:30] of 50 officially means that we don't know anything about that number, but it doesn't actually mean that it's just a little below 50.1. It actually has another meaning. Therefore, when we use it with the customers, we should do this instead of that. It frees us to do that kind of work all day long. (09:47): And it's that kind of work that allows that business model to be animated with reality. It's not revisiting the numbers. I mean, I think people love to look at stuff [00:10:00] because looking at stuff has lower risk than doing stuff. Corey Frank (10:05): Lower risk than doing stuff, yeah. Chris Beall (10:07): Doing stuff is very high risk. You could fail. So you have to be very enthusiastic about failure to actually embark on doing things many, many times a day. (10:16): I think I've told the story on the podcast. I'll tell it again. My eldest, back many, many, many years ago, came to the office on a bring your kid to the office. And we sat through a long meeting in which there was a lot of numbers, [00:10:30] and we were walking over to Starbucks afterwards, and the snow was falling through the air. And she stopped and said, "Dad, can I ask you a question?" I said, "Sure." She said, "Do they really think that by talking about the numbers, they're going to change the numbers? And I said, "Yes, they do." She thought about it for a second, said, "That's very sad." (10:55): There's such a temptation to look and think that [00:11:00] looking at where you are in the progress that was predicted by the business model is going to tell you something about what you need to do. What you need to do sits right in front of you, as long as you're not doing stuff that takes you backwards. But if you allow your salespeople to sell to your previous market, the one from your previous stage, you're going backwards. The relationship with a business model of sales is there's a gate. You go through the gate. We're done with the tech enthusiasts. Now [00:11:30] we're finding a visionary. (11:31): By the way, your sales team can't probably help you with that. Maybe they know some people. You're going to have to do that one yourself because what you put on the table is what you put on the table. Nobody's going to be able to do it but you. (11:42): Now, we've gone past that. Okay, we have the remaining resources. We now have some money. We didn't have to take two rounds of venture capital. Isn't that cool? That's why your VCs will never let you do this because they want to provide those two rounds of venture capital. But now, you're cool. Hey, here's our hypothesis. This is our market. Let's [00:12:00] go get the first one. Totally new activity. Everything we did before, if we start doing that again in order to "make quota," we're going backwards. As long as we're not going backwards, all we can deal with is the details in front of us, which is problems that are friction in our mission. (12:19): So what do we do? Well, we address the friction. How do we do it? We name it. We characterize it. It's all theory of constraints at this point, all the way down. It's just over and over, the same cycle. How do we [00:12:30] get the energy to do it? Because we believe it's a good thing to do, and we signed up to do it with each other. That's why. That's how. Corey Frank (12:36): And it's not on the balance sheet. None of those people, things, traits, you, Dan, Seth, Matt Forbes, I mean [inaudible 00:12:44], none of that lives on the balance sheet in any multidimensional form, but yet it makes all the difference. Chris Beall (12:51): Exactly. I mean, if you were to put it on the balance sheet, you'd put it in goodwill, but goodwill is supposedly the goodwill of the market toward you. But actual goodwill is [00:13:00] goodwill of you toward the market for people you've never met. Corey Frank (13:05): Yeah, for sure. Chris Beall (13:06): It's that story you tell, and I was just in Europe, you talk to the three brick layers at the cathedral. I'm laying bricks to feed my family. That's noble. A lot of people work like that. Well, I'm laying bricks to build this beautiful work of art, this edifice, which will last for a thousand years. Okay, that's nice. I'm saving men's souls, right? What [00:13:30] is it that's driving all of you together to do the inconvenient thing of dealing with inconvenient details and broken stuff? Because all there is is broken stuff. I mean, otherwise you wouldn't be fixing it. (13:43): Every day going forward, your job as the leader is to make sure that you don't go backwards. You'll naturally go forward then. So what's going to take you backwards? Your sales team will take you backwards because you compensate them to do that. So don't do that, and [00:14:00] then your business model can move forward. (14:02): Does it really have to follow exactly the math. Our business is interesting. I've been talking to people about it recently. It's like, well, your retention isn't high enough. Well, what's the purpose of retention? Well, to allow you to grow. Well, look at the growth. Well, you can't be growing because the retention's not high enough. No, we're actually growing. Therefore, for the way we sell, it must be high enough. But folks forget that. They [00:14:30] take the antecedents, and they go, "Oh, this has to be here." No. You can look at how it's actually progressing and ask yourself the question, "Are we acquiring more customers that we're helping in a way that they would say good things about us?" Pretty simple, pretty big. (14:49): And how fast is it going? It's probably going about as fast as it's likely to go given the situation and the resources we have. Hence profits, by the way, because profits are the infinite [00:15:00] investment. They're infinite. They go on for all time, as long as you keep being profitable. Corey Frank (15:06): And that's hopefully what your business model will continue to show. So that's a clinic, Chris, and I think we need to have a couple more episodes about that is all the things that could be in goodwill that most folks don't think about when they're building a SaaS or software company. And you hit on a lot of them, which is the people element, and certainly given [00:15:30] me much sage advice over the years when we talk about personnel. There's a good friend of this program and a good buddy of mine. His name is Eli Chmouni, comes from Neon. He's a great entrepreneur, multiple time entrepreneur, and he went to a workshop with Todd Davis, the founder of LifeLock. This may be a year or so ago. And this is the antithesis of what you're saying about the retention of folks, because hanging onto some folks past their shelf date could be a challenge [00:16:00] to say the least. (16:01): And he goes to this workshop with Todd Davis, and the first thing Todd Davis says, I'm paraphrasing, meets the group, doesn't do an introduction, just comes out and says, "Folks," talking to a group of CEOs, "on Monday, you need to fire that person." Everybody's looking around, and it kind of sunk in a little bit. And he says, "The fact that everybody knew and drew their mind to one person in their mind shows you that you know exactly who I'm talking [00:16:30] about, and you just needed a sign from the universe to tell you you're doing the right thing. You're going to do the right thing by having this person move on to the next stage of their career," because we've all done that, as you've said earlier, Chris, when you bring an organization up from the roots and the ground level, and you have some folks that maybe brought you to another level, but it's probably time where they [inaudible 00:16:56], and it's a very, very difficult thing. I found it in my career, very, very, very difficult [00:17:00] to hang on to folks well past their point, but it does bring the organization to a level where it stifles growth. That's another thing I'd like your comment on here before we wrap it up. Chris Beall (17:11): Well, there's a lot of folks who yearn for the past. They yearn for what was. I think all of us do to some degree. One of the, I would call it, the horrible things about business is it doesn't have a lot of tolerance for our feelings about the past because we have these folks out there called competitors [00:17:30] who are trying to actually provide something better than we're providing to customers at a lower price and with greater convenience and so forth. (17:37): And we have this odd obligation. It's an odd obligation to make a horrible sacrifice every once in a while, which is that somebody who can't overcome the draw of the past, whatever that happens to be, that pulls them in that direction, needs to stop pulling us all toward the past. (17:58): And I don't think there's another [00:18:00] cure for it. It's not like there's anything wrong with them. And sometimes it happens in people's lives. They just get to a point where it's like the past is more attractive than the future. At least it's known. That's better the known than the unknown. And yet, when we're building businesses, pretty much all we're doing is wrestling with the unknown. That's kind of it. And we have to do it together. And if somebody doesn't want to wrestle with the unknown, or can't, it's more like can't anymore, but we have to [00:18:30] arrange for them to go find another known. Corey Frank (18:34): Yeah. It's the example of when you show up for a potluck, and you and your spouse bring your dish, and you show up to a potluck, a neighborhood or a company, etc., whose food do you eat? You generally eat your own because you know what's in it. You've made it, and you know what it tastes like. Suppose an organization, after a certain point, is that way is maybe the litmus test is everybody should have a potluck. And if you eat your own food, chances are is you're certainly suspect, whether you're [00:19:00] due to maintain the organization so. (19:03): Well, that's great stuff, Chris. Beautiful to have you back on this side of the pond, 200 plus episodes under the belt, all kinds of stuff. We got to finish this book one of these days. Certainly, we're going to have a multiple volumes and topics. I learned so much from this, from being, as I said on a LinkedIn post the other day, the more mentally stifled version of Ed McMahon to you, the king of late nights, the king of mid-morning, the king of late afternoon, wherever it is, where people listen [00:19:30] to this podcast. So Chris, for the Market Dominance Guys, this is Corey Frank. Until next time.