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Creating the Human Touch in Tech Sales, with Maria Bross [Episode 1135]

In this week’s episode, Alastair is joined by our very own Maria Bross, Revenue.io’s Director of Performance Consulting, to delve into the art of effective sales strategy and enablement. They discuss the vital role of building decision confidence in buyers, emphasizing the importance of timely education and tension-building throughout the sales process. Maria’s insightful anecdotes and expert advice shed light on the complex dynamics of modern sales, offering valuable takeaways for both sales leaders and professionals.

Podcast Transcript:

Speaker 1: 00:00:00:07 – 00:00:36:08
This is not the time for an order taker to step up and be an authority in the sales process and take a lot of ownership in progressing the deal further, creating that tension and educating them. That’s right. Welcome back, everybody, to this week’s Sales Strategy and Enablement podcast. I’m Alastair Woolcock and I’m thrilled to have with me today our very own Maria Bross, director of Performance Consulting.

Speaker 2: 00:00:36:18 – 00:00:57:14
Maria is just a pleasure to work with. For those that have not had the chance to ever interface with Maria for the better part of a decade now, a quick young decade. Maria But a lot more than that has been an influencer in the sales voice on LinkedIn. I think you’d be one of the top in 2023 on that side.

Speaker 1: 00:00:58:01 – 00:01:20:02
You have assessed and helped with quite literally millions of conversations with our client bases and other companies as well. And now revenue, we’re really helping clients with the performance consulting side and frankly, just better conversations. Maria, we are so happy to have you with us. How are you doing today? Well, I’m embarrassed making it, Nick. Let’s all then find words.

Speaker 2: 00:01:20:03 – 00:01:41:14
Thank you so much there. I am super excited to be here tonight. I’m talking to it now. Maria, we are sorry at News of the week and the news that popped up this week that I want to kind of run by you is this is actually from G2. Okay. And G2 just released their latest sales enablement statistics. And inside there they are discussing pipeline stores and pipelines.

Speaker 2: 00:01:41:14 – 00:02:06:14
Stall is a very real thing. And Mike, we hear it a lot amongst companies worldwide right now. They’re like, we’re we’re getting these. It’s just not closing. We expect their data is saying that 58% of pipeline stores are because a rep is unable to add value. Now, I love this statistic. It’s provocative. It’s interesting. Yeah, adding value is a big statement.

Speaker 2: 00:02:06:14 – 00:02:30:23
What does that mean when you hear that? Maria, and you think of conversations? Is that accurate? Would you disagree with their assessment? Do you think that’s right? Those statistics say, well, what your thoughts when you hear that now, I mean, GTA is a pretty credible story. So I believe I’m there and it’s something that we’re hearing in conversations with our customers and what we’re hearing in the market.

Speaker 2: 00:02:30:23 – 00:02:49:10
So I absolutely agree and believe it. It’s so difficult. Right. And I also, being a seller myself from experience, I know that that’s a challenging thing to do, especially for someone who’s not necessarily a market that we have to have conversations with and, you know, piqued our curiosity and make it a good use of their time to show up to these meetings.

Speaker 2: 00:02:49:10 – 00:03:15:11
So I really understand what that looks like and it’s shifted so much. I think the best sellers right now are having to really go back to the drawing board and go back to those those fundamental skills of sales and just having conversations with other human to find out, you know, doing better discovery, showing up by the perspective based on a lot of research that you’ve done, knowing their buyers really well in their world.

Speaker 2: 00:03:15:12 – 00:03:32:09
Because I think I think what’s causing that is a lot of this therapist level discovery, finding out how they’re getting the job done, but not really going any deeper than that to build a really compelling business piece to move forward.

Speaker 2: 00:03:32:13 – 00:03:51:12
Yeah, And I think you’re right, Marie, and I’d love to dive in on this episode. So how do we solve that? How do we actually help them have a better conversation? Yeah, because I think when again, I see statistics like that from GTA, I don’t disagree with me there, but I think we often end those things with, okay, well, people are really bad, you know, they’re not adding value.

Speaker 2: 00:03:51:12 – 00:04:14:08
And I think that’s true. So I’d love to hear from you on what you think about that. How can we do a better job of teaching them to have a better conversation? And what is a good conversation? What do you feel like when we hear that term being tossed around by G2 in that statistics, what is that. Yeah, I think what it means to me, Nick, is really helping them.

Speaker 2: 00:04:14:08 – 00:04:37:01
I was a seller in. I’m sure you were in as well. We have to be a lot more in tune to the pressure that our buyers are under the pressure that they have to perform in the role that they’re in. And I think if we don’t truly understand what those are and what they’re what they’re encountering on a daily basis, we’re never really going to be able to add value.

Speaker 2: 00:04:37:01 – 00:04:58:09
But I think when we truly understand what that looks like, we’re going to be able to push them and challenge them in ways that maybe they’re not really thinking about or challenging themselves. So I think really getting to the core of that by asking some really provocative questions, maybe asking some questions that they’ve never really thought about.

Speaker 2: 00:04:58:10 – 00:05:18:06
And I think when we do that, that’s when you can really educate them and really add value and bring a different perspective. So I think that’s a big part of it, is really just pushing them and challenging them in ways that they haven’t really been challenged before. Yeah, and that’s so interesting, right, because.

Speaker 2: 00:05:18:06 – 00:05:41:00
When you think about that, it’s almost as if we as sales professionals need to be the expert in the category. We need to be the consultant. We need to be that guide, right? So we need to be so on top of not only what’s happening in the industry, but their company, their competitors, all that.

Speaker 2: 00:05:41:00 – 00:06:00:05
But when you think of it from an enablement side, like our space in the space that you know super well, do you think we enable people to ask those provocative questions? I mean, obviously you and I have both been in a lot of situations where we’ve seen it work.

Speaker 2: 00:06:00:05 – 00:06:21:10
But I think that’s a space where we fall down sometimes as enablement professionals is teaching people how to do that. So what do you think about that? Maria? How do we actually do that? I would imagine the enablement in a perfect world would be where they could set up a story.

Speaker 2: 00:06:21:10 – 00:06:40:15
I would imagine that if they were a seller, they’d be able to have a good first discovery meeting. They’d be able to open a discovery meeting with something that says that that they did, and here’s how that meeting went. And here’s some other folks in the marketplace that did this. So this seems to be a trend.

Speaker 2: 00:06:40:16 – 00:07:00:12
How do you recommend for enablement professionals to go about building that story? What are some things that you’ve seen that have worked and where we’re some things that you’ve seen maybe that are a little bit off? So you bring up a really interesting point there, and I think that’s a bit of a tension point, right?

Speaker 2: 00:07:00:12 – 00:07:24:07
Where is the enablement person that’s trying to really understand what good looks like? But then you have this whole separate tension where the seller says, well, I need to be authentic and I don’t want to use a script and I don’t want to use someone else’s words. But then you have the enablement person trying to say, well, we know that this works and we know that this is really impactful and I can see that there’s a struggle with that.

Speaker 2: 00:07:24:07 – 00:07:42:10
So I think to really help both sides of that equation is to come up with some really high level frameworks that sellers can customize and put into their own words. So, you know, if you think about your discovery, what are the really high level buckets that you need to hit?

Speaker 2: 00:07:42:10 – 00:08:02:05
What are the things that you need to uncover and how are you uncovering those? And here’s maybe some really good examples that you can pull from, but then I want you to add it to your own vernacular. And so I think that’s the real beauty of it, right? Is being able to find the two.

Speaker 2: 00:08:02:05 – 00:08:28:06
And and there’s also tension on that side as well, because a lot of times they say, well, I need to get to my story or I need to get to my demo or I need to get to my products and that’s what my buyer wants. But then the question becomes, well, is that what they need? And so that’s where I think that you have to have some really good back and forth between sales and enablement and work together to come up with what that looks like.

Speaker 2: 00:08:28:06 – 00:08:46:09
And so I think if you can work together to come up with what that looks like and have a really good framework to work from, but also make sure that you’re being very prescriptive in your language. So here’s what I mean by that, is if I’m a seller and I’m asking a question, I might ask it one way.

Speaker 2: 00:08:46:09 – 00:09:06:11
But then, you know, we know that when we’re doing discovery and we’re asking provocative questions, there’s a very prescriptive way to ask those questions that we know we’re going to get more information, that we’re going to get more impact. So how do we build that in and how do we make sure that we’re using that in our conversations?

Speaker 2: 00:09:06:12 – 00:09:25:14
And so I think it’s a combination of both of those things, having a really good framework to work from, but also being able to make sure that we’re using the right language and using the language that we know is going to drive those really impactful answers. And that’s so interesting, right?

Speaker 2: 00:09:25:15 – 00:09:44:15
Because when you think about it, it’s almost as if we as sales professionals have a double duty, right? We need to be able to communicate. But there’s also a level of tactics that I think comes into play, right? So when you think about it, it’s one thing to be able to ask a good question, but it’s also another thing to know how to listen.

Speaker 2: 00:09:44:16 – 00:10:03:11
Yeah, and listen not only to the words that they’re saying, but listen to their tone and their pace and what they’re not saying. And then from there, really pull out those really great follow up questions that you know are going to drive more impact. And so it’s it’s kind of a multi-layered approach, I would say.

Speaker 2: 00:10:03:12 – 00:10:25:00
And I think that’s what the really good sellers are doing right now, is they’re really getting in tune to that and really understanding how to pull out that information. And sometimes it’s just even asking the question and being quiet and just waiting for that buyer to respond. And you would be amazed at what they will say.

Speaker 2: 00:10:25:01 – 00:10:47:07
And I think that’s also the thing is sometimes we’re so quick to jump to the next question because we’re so nervous and uncomfortable with silence. But sometimes that’s when the really good stuff comes out, is just waiting and just being patient and letting them really think through their answer.

Speaker 2: 00:10:47:07 – 00:11:10:06
And I think that’s the thing that we need to remember is sometimes those are the moments that we’re really uncovering that golden nugget that’s going to really help us uncover a challenge that we can solve and really tie that back to what we do. And I think that’s the real beauty of discovery. Yeah, I love that.

Speaker 2: 00:11:10:07 – 00:11:29:12
I think that’s that’s such a good point. And I think, you know, when you think about it, discovery and discovery and conversation is actually the foundation, right? It’s the foundation of everything that we do as sellers. It’s it’s where the magic happens, right? It’s where we really understand what’s happening in the buyer’s world.

Speaker 2: 00:11:29:13 – 00:11:50:06
So what’s really interesting about that, Maria, is, you know, you are also one of the people that have some research. I would argue that it’s the best research that’s out there. And you’ve been doing it for a really long time, like almost a decade now. So one thing I’d love to hear from you is what has changed?

Speaker 2: 00:11:50:06 – 00:12:09:03
What have you seen? Because I think this is an interesting point. A lot of people talk about, well, selling has changed so much. And I think selling has evolved, I think, is more of the way that I would look at it. But I’d love to hear from you. What has changed? Yeah, that’s a great question.

Speaker 2: 00:12:09:03 – 00:12:28:04
And I think the funny thing is, Nick, is it really has changed and not changed at the same time. And what I mean by that is, you know, if you think about the fundamental skills of sales, it’s it’s discovery, it’s being able to ask really good questions, it’s being able to be consultative, it’s being able to really understand what’s going on with the buyer.

Speaker 2: 00:12:28:05 – 00:12:48:12
And I think that part of it hasn’t changed at all. What’s changed, I think, is the level of research that buyers are doing before they even come to the table, I think, the level of competition that’s in the marketplace right now. And so I think it’s almost a necessity now that we have to come to the table being a lot more informed.

Speaker 2: 00:12:48:13 – 00:13:08:05
And I think that’s what the best sellers are doing right now, is they’re really taking the time to really research and really understand what’s going on with their buyer and their world. And so when they’re having those conversations, they can ask really provocative questions and really have a good understanding of what their world looks like.

Speaker 2: 00:13:08:06 – 00:13:27:07
And so I think that’s the big thing that’s changed. And I think it’s the big thing that’s causing the tension right now, is because buyers are doing so much research before they even get to the table. The sellers have to come with that level of expertise as well. Yeah, and it’s so interesting, right?

Speaker 2: 00:13:27:08 – 00:13:51:00
Because when you think about it, what you’re really saying is almost it’s the level of value that you’re adding, right? So it’s almost like, you know, sellers have always been taught, okay, well, you need to ask great questions, but you also need to be able to tell your story and you need to do this and this and this.

Speaker 2: 00:13:51:01 – 00:14:10:08
But I think now what you’re saying is, look, we’ve got to add so much value because the buyers are looking for that person who can come in and say, well, here’s what your world looks like. Here’s what we’re seeing out there. And here’s how we could potentially help you solve that problem.

Speaker 2: 00:14:10:09 – 00:14:33:09
And so I think that’s a really interesting point that you make, and it’s something that I don’t think a lot of sellers are necessarily doing right now. And I think it’s a little bit of a lost opportunity. But I think for the sellers that are really doing that right now, they’re really making themselves stand out and they’re really able to command a premium for what they’re doing.

Speaker 2: 00:14:33:09 – 00:14:56:13
Yeah, And I think you’re right. And I think the thing that’s really interesting is, you know, I hear a lot about, well, buyers are super busy and they’re not responding. And it’s so hard to get a hold of them. And I would argue that the reason for that is because we’re not giving them a reason to respond.

Speaker 2: 00:14:56:14 – 00:15:20:05
And so I think if we’re not giving them something of value, why would they respond? Why would they take time out of their busy day to respond to something that we’re sending them that’s not adding any sort of value? And so I think that’s what the best sellers are doing right now, is they’re really adding value.

Speaker 2: 00:15:20:05 – 00:15:40:10
They’re really getting in tune with what’s going on in their world. And they’re really using that information to have a really good conversation and really challenge them in ways that maybe they’re not really thinking about. Yeah, I love that. I think that’s a great point.

Speaker 2: 00:15:40:11 – 00:15:58:03
So, Maria, I know we’re running out of time here, but I want to ask you one last question. And this is a question that I always ask everyone. But if you could give one piece of advice to sellers out there, what would it be? Yeah, I think my one piece of advice would be really get curious.

Speaker 2: 00:15:58:03 – 00:16:18:00
You know, I think that we are so quick to jump to the solution or jump to what we think is the solution. But I think if we can really get curious and really dig in and really ask a lot of questions and be patient and wait for the answers and really understand what’s going on in their world.

Speaker 2: 00:16:18:01 – 00:16:37:00
I think that’s what’s going to set us apart and that’s what’s going to really allow us to add value. And so I think it’s a simple concept, but it’s something that’s really difficult to do. And it’s something that takes a lot of practice.

Speaker 2: 00:16:37:01 – 00:16:52:08
But I think if we can really get curious and really have that level of empathy to really understand what’s going on with them, that’s what’s going to allow us to have those really good conversations and really add value. Yeah, I love that. I think that’s a great point.

Speaker 1: 00:16:52:09 – 00:17:10:15
Well, Maria, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it. I think the insights you’ve provided have been invaluable. So thank you again for joining us on this episode. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me. Thanks, everyone, for listening.