This special episode of Two Tall Guys Talking Sales comes from a recent CEO Workshop put on by Sean O’Shaughnessey and Kevin Lawson. It was taken from a LinkedIn Live presentation that aired on September 29, 2023. You can listen to this episode or click over to the LinkedIn Live presentation at https://www.linkedin.com/events/ceoworkshop-understandyourclien7106962760084688896/
Are you a sales leader or CEO looking to supercharge your sales strategy? In this episode of “Two Tall Guys Talking Sales,” hosts Kevin Lawson and Sean O’Shaughnessey delve deep into the art of understanding your client’s business to sell more effectively. Sean, a seasoned sales expert, shares invaluable insights on transitioning from being just a vendor to becoming a trusted advisor. This episode is a treasure trove of actionable advice, real-world examples, and strategies that can be immediately implemented to elevate your sales game.
Key Topics Discussed
The Power Matrix: Learn how to identify and engage with key stakeholders in your client’s organization, from decision-makers to influencers.
Consultative Selling: Discover the essence of becoming a trusted advisor rather than just a vendor and how this approach can significantly impact your sales.
Financial Acumen: Understand why knowing your client’s financial position can give you a competitive edge and how to gather this information.
Interdepartmental Relationships: Sean discusses the importance of having touchpoints across various departments in your client’s organization and how it can lead to a more tailored sales pitch.
Customer Journey Mapping: Learn how to map out the customer journey to gain a 360-degree understanding of your client’s needs and motivations.
Key Quotes from Sean
“You elevate yourself from a vendor to a partner in the B2B sales arena.”
“Your proposition becomes not just a response to an RFP, but a comprehensive strategy of partnership.”
“This alignment leads to a consultative selling approach, one that evolves from being transactional to being deeply relational.”
Sean’s book on sales strategies, “Eliminate Your Competition,” You may purchase “Eliminate Your Competition” from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.
Don’t miss this enlightening special episode that promises to transform your approach to B2B sales. Whether you’re a seasoned sales professional or a CEO looking to revamp your sales strategy, this episode offers a comprehensive guide to understanding your client’s business like never before. Tune in to “Two Tall Guys Talking Sales” and equip yourself with the tools and insights to become not just a vendor but a strategic partner in your client’s success journey. Subscribe today and stay ahead of the sales game!
Bob Robinson, Jr., and his mechanical-engineer father, Bob Robinson, Sr., came up with the idea for a product the world truly needed 25 years ago: a “no-touch” restroom cleaning machine. Their company, Kaivac, is a Hamilton, OH-based manufacturer of cleaning machines. Hamilton is a suburb of Cincinnati, OH.
“We were on our hands and knees, crawling around the bathroom,” recalls Bob, Jr. “It was disgusting. We said, ‘There’s got to be a better way.'”
Through hard work and dedication, the Robinsons created the KaiVac to help solve that initial problem in public restrooms. Over the years, they grew the idea to create dedicated machines to clean kitchen floors, hallway floors, and grocery displays. Beyond its bathroom cleaning technology, it has expanded into floor cleaning and spill response machines and has 18 patents with 16 pending.
Along with growing their manufacturing capabilities, they also grew their sales capabilities. They adopted a hybrid strategy of selling through distribution and selling directly to key customers. Their direct team, under the leadership of Bob Robinson, Jr., who had taken on the role of VP of Sales, closed many enviable customers with massive deals, including Walmart, Kroger, and Target.
They realized that they needed to step up their sales professionalism after having a down year during COVID after having a record-breaking year the year before. They wanted to grow to $75 million in annual revenue within three years and a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of $1 billion in annual revenue within 20 years.
Bob Jr. says Kaivac is just getting started. “At 20 to 25 years in business, you’re at an inflection point where you’ve got resources, tenure, and history and have been through ‘adolescence,'” he says. “Now is the chance to build a professionalized organization.”
They contacted New Sales Expert LLC as the nation was coming out of the global pandemic, but before all the supply chain problems had paused. New Sales Expert LLC is a fractional vice president of sales consultancy. Sean O’Shaughnessey, the CEO of New Sales Expert, is aligned with SalesXceleration and has 38 years of experience in sales and sales management.
According to Sean, “Kaivac is a joy to work with. They are the shining star of Hamilton, OH, and Butler County. They had so much raw potential when I walked in the door; all I had to do was to focus their energy and enthusiasm on working smarter and just a little harder.”
Building an organization with a heart
Kaivac had a great culture to build on to make a great sales culture. Before Sean showed up, the company leadership had already developed their One-Page Strategic Plan and their “Why?” statement that reflects the owners’ Christian faith: “To glorify God by using KAIVAC as an instrument for Good.”
In addition to the “Why?” statement, they had drafted an acronym called FIGS that conveys the “heart” of the company. FIGS—which appears on signs that hang on the factory floor and in break rooms—stands for
F: “First shall be last, last shall be first.”
I: Integrity—as in “The truth shall set you free.”
G: Golden Rule—meaning “treat others how you want to be treated.”
S: Servant’s Heart, as in “We are in a race to help people.”
The company uses the first three letters of its name–KAI–to inspire the team’s thinking and actions. These letters stand for inspiring phrases such as: “Keep At It,” “Keep Always Improving,” “Keep Attempting the Impossible,” and “(creates) Kick-Ass Inventions.”
Prioritizing net income and growth
Sean’s first change was to make a compensation plan that motivated the sales team to sell bigger deals and to sell them quickly. Kaivac implemented a 50/50 plan in concert with defined territories to keep the Key Account salespeople focused on the goal of more significant and profitable orders.
After the motivation component was in place, it was time to help the team learn how to sell big deals more repeatedly. The big deals of the past had been challenging to work on and, while very profitable, had been disruptive to close. Sean encouraged the company to read John McMahon’s book, “The Qualified Sales Leader,” and with that tome as inspiration, quickly deployed MEDDPICCC to help them qualify deals.
MEDDPICCC by itself is not enough. The company had already licensed Salesforce, one of the highest-rated CRMs on the market, but Sean put MEDDPICCC into the various stages of the sales process to ensure that the salespeople knew all the required information about a big deal. Sean also created dashboards within Salesforce to track deal progress at the management level. The company implemented Sales Plans for Key Accounts and the Power Matrix to document the most influential people in the customer’s decision-making process.
The very first big deals that the company found after Sean started to help them also benefited from the Decision Timeline. The Decision Timeline is a tool to allow the sales team to walk through the entire decision-making process of the customer to understand all of the steps required to make a significant investment decision. It allowed frank and honest conversations to take place with the prospect as the team worked to close the largest deal in the company’s history to date.
Time to run on their own
As with most of the assignments with New Sales Expert, LLC, the goal is to allow the company to run independently. Bob Robinson Jr. was the company’s VP of Sales. Still, he needed to shed those responsibilities to help run the entire company. To finish the transition, Bob and three of his leaders took SalesXceleration‘s Certified Sales Leadership course delivered by Sean O’Shaughnessey.
The Certified Sales Leader (CSL) designation is the country’s most comprehensive sales leadership certification program offered. CSL leadership training and certification will prepare you with the analytical, tactical, and strategic sales management skills needed to drive revenue growth now…and into the future. CSL training expands the skill set of a Sales Manager by providing coaching, techniques, and tools to lead a successful sales team.
All four Kaivac leaders passed the CSL test. One of them, Mike Perazzo, was tagged to take over as Executive Vice President of Sales. According to Mike, “Sean is a master coach for helping shape sales process and methodology. Following his methods will help grow sales faster, transactionally, and strategically. Often a couple of pieces of the puzzle are missing, and Sean helps quickly identify them.
You have everything to gain by having Sean look at your current approach. He is a change agent and disruptive to the status quo. Pushing the pace and flow of deals is his sweet spot. I am a better sales leader because of my time with him.”
Sean O’Shaughnessey of New Sales Expert, LLC states, “Kaivac is a wonderful company. They have created a line of machines that gives pride to the workers in one of the toughest jobs in America – keeping things clean. They are focused on the success of their customers and their employees. They had all of the raw skills within their sales team to be a great sales organization; they only needed me to focus them on activities and techniques that allowed them to close bigger deals faster and at a higher profit level.”
“If anyone works in a clean building with clean restrooms and hard surface floors, they are either cleaning it with Kaivac technology or paying too much for that cleanliness,” Sean explains.
Revenue and profitability have grown since Sean helped Kaivac develop a higher level of sales professionalism. Recent results have shown a dramatic increase in revenue and profitability. The sales and revenue growth have allowed the entire family of Kaivac to prosper. The Robinsons have always considered their employees an extension of their family. The company’s prosperity is passed along to team members through a bonus structure for the whole company. It all fits into the spirit of Kaivac. Bob Jr. says, “Our organization was built to have heart.”
In this thought-provoking podcast, hosts Kevin Lawson and Sean O’Shaughnessey dive into the challenges salespeople face when their sales process doesn’t align with the buyer’s journey. Using the example of a beer industry manufacturer, they explore the difficulties encountered when dealing with prospects who are only interested in the price and user count and how this can lead to feeling like a commodity. This insightful discussion underscores the importance of adapting to the buyer’s journey to sell more effectively.
As the conversation continues, Sean and Kevin emphasize the need to understand the buyer’s process, from recognizing the signs of a good prospect to determining the right time to buy. They highlight the importance of asking the right questions, listening to the buyer, and identifying their current position in the evaluation process. The hosts also discuss the concept of commercial teaching, which involves meeting prospects at their level of knowledge about the industry, solution, or product.
In addition, the duo addresses the challenge of long sales cycles and the factors that contribute to them, such as not understanding where the buyer is in their journey or not setting up for success earlier in the sales process. They encourage salespeople to be self-reflective and analyze their pipelines, identifying deals that may be stuck or taking longer than expected due to a lack of alignment with the buyer’s journey.
Furthermore, Kevin and Sean touch upon the importance of knowing the buyer persona, recognizing that different people within an organization have different perspectives and needs. By understanding the type of person you’re speaking with, salespeople can connect more quickly and effectively.
The podcast concludes with a challenge for salespeople to be introspective and consider how they can better align their sales process with the buyer’s journey for improved results.
Designing an effective sales compensation plan is critical to any successful sales organization. A well-crafted plan motivates your sales team, drives revenue growth, and aligns the interests of both the company and the sales representatives.
It’s essential to understand the impact of compensation on salespeople. Sales reps are highly motivated by money, and their income is directly tied to their performance. Incentives such as bonuses, commissions, and accelerators can all play a key role in driving sales performance. However, these incentives can have unintended consequences if not implemented correctly.
This blog post will explore various aspects of creating a successful sales compensation plan, including setting quotas, selecting base and variable pay, using accelerators, and employing rewards and contests. We’ll also discuss strategies for designing effective compensation plans for different types of sales roles and tips for continuously improving your compensation plan.
A strong sales organization is the cornerstone of any successful business. The sales team serves as the company’s lifeblood, driving revenue growth and ensuring long-term financial stability. When a company prepares for a merger, acquisition, or public offering, having a strong sales team can translate into a higher valuation.
A strong sales organization is the backbone of a thriving business, as it directly impacts revenue generation. When a company’s sales team is well-organized, well-trained, and motivated, they become more effective in closing deals and fostering relationships with clients. This increased effectiveness leads to more sales, ultimately resulting in higher revenues and profits for the company.
By investing in a strong sales organization, businesses can capitalize on opportunities and achieve maximum value. The best sales organizations have a proven track record of success. These teams have established a consistent sales process, streamlined communication channels, and aligned with the company’s overall business goals.
A successful sales team is crucial for driving revenue growth. The following factors contribute to a sales organization’s ability to increase revenues and profits:
Small businesses often find themselves at a disadvantage when competing with larger, well-established companies. However, they can still succeed. It requires them to think creatively and strategically and to develop unique approaches to win customers over.
One approach small businesses can take is implementing the Fragment Sales Strategy. This approach is advantageous when small companies find themselves in David vs. Goliath-type sales campaigns, going up against larger competitors with more resources, references, and success stories.
Salespeople can increase their chances of success by focusing on specific areas where they can create value for the customer and differentiate themselves from the competition. The Fragment Sales Strategy is a methodology that breaks down the opportunity into smaller, more manageable pieces. This helps salespeople stay organized, identify key decision-makers, and manage essential milestones in the sales process.
Essentially, with a Fragment Strategy, salespeople are trying to change the opportunity to a smaller portion of the customer’s goals where they can be successful and convince the prospect to look at other needs in a future opportunity. A Fragment Strategy is essential if you want the prospect to adopt multiple “best-in-class” products, but the small business only offers a few of the “best-in-class” capabilities.
Understanding the goals of the customer is also crucial when implementing the Fragment Sales Strategy. Salespeople need to understand what the customer is trying to achieve and what challenges they face in reaching their goals. By focusing on specific goals and offering solutions that address those challenges, salespeople can increase the likelihood of a successful sale.
Small businesses can use five basic sales strategies to win more sales. These include Frontal, Flanking, Fragment, Defend, and Develop Strategies. The Frontal Strategy involves going head-to-head with the competition and trying to win over customers based on the product’s merits. Unfortunately, a salesperson for a small business can quickly lose with this strategy when competing against a larger competitor with more resources and, in theory, more successful implementations.
The Flanking Strategy is useful for a small business salesperson because it shifts the focus of the customer’s buying criteria to new or different issues that favor your solution. It means you are not playing by the rules. You are taking a completely different approach than your competitors expect. The challenge with a flanking strategy is that you need to understand the dynamics of the prospect completely. You must understand both personal and organizational needs. It can only be used in opportunities where the salesperson has an influential inside advisor (a Coach). Ultimately, the strategy needs a strong Champion. The strategy also requires you to have multiple value propositions that are relatively unique to your offering, which may not be available to the small business B2B salesperson.
The Defend Strategy focuses on keeping existing customers happy and preventing them from defecting to the competition. Of course, this strategy depends on the current relationship with the customer. It is only applicable if the prospect already has a business relationship with the small business.
Finally, the Develop Strategy involves identifying opportunities and developing products or services that meet customer needs. While this strategy allows the building of intense relationships, it can also be the most extended sales cycle, putting a small business at significant risk if the prospect doesn’t move forward after a long development process.
Small businesses implementing the Fragment Sales Strategy should focus on understanding their customers’ goals, identifying pain points, and offering solutions to those challenges. By breaking down the sales process into smaller, more manageable pieces, salespeople can focus on areas where they can create value for the customer and differentiate themselves from the competition.
Some questions that a salesperson might ask the prospect could be:
What are your short-term and long-term business goals? For several reasons, asking a prospect about their short-term and long-term business goals is an essential part of the sales process for the salesperson of a small business. Firstly, it enables the salesperson to understand the customer’s specific needs and requirements, which helps them tailor their sales pitch and offer the best solution possible. Secondly, it allows the salesperson to identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling by offering additional products or services that can help the customer achieve their goals. Thirdly, it helps the salesperson build a relationship with the customer by showing a genuine interest in their business and demonstrating how their product or service can help them achieve their objectives. Overall, asking this question can help the salesperson position themselves as a trusted advisor and increase their chances of closing the sale.
What challenges are you currently facing in your business? – A salesperson would need to ask a prospect about the challenges they are currently facing in their business to gain a deeper understanding of their pain points and business needs. By asking this question, the salesperson can identify specific problems that the prospect is looking to solve and then position their product or service as a solution. Understanding the challenges also enables the salesperson to demonstrate their expertise and industry knowledge by providing insights and advice on how the prospect can overcome their obstacles. Additionally, asking about challenges shows the prospect that the salesperson is interested in their business and is committed to finding a solution that will address their specific needs, which can help build trust and a stronger relationship.
What specific problems are you trying to solve with this purchase? – A business-to-business salesperson would need to ask a prospect about the specific problems they are trying to solve with their purchase to identify how their product or service can help the prospect achieve their goals. This question helps the salesperson understand the prospect’s needs, challenges, and requirements in-depth, allowing them to tailor their sales pitch accordingly. It also enables the salesperson to offer a customized solution that addresses the prospect’s unique problems and requirements, making the product or service more valuable to the prospect. Asking about specific problems also helps the salesperson build a stronger relationship with the prospect by showing that they are interested in helping them achieve their objectives rather than just making a sale. Ultimately, understanding the specific problems the prospect is trying to solve will help the salesperson close more deals and establish themselves as a trusted advisor in the eyes of the prospect.
How does this purchase fit into your overall business strategy? – A business-to-business salesperson working for a small business would need to ask a prospect how their purchase fits into their overall business strategy to understand the prospect’s long-term goals and position their product or service as a strategic solution. This question helps the salesperson identify whether their product or service aligns with the prospect’s broader objectives, allowing them to position it as an investment rather than just a purchase. Understanding the prospect’s overall business strategy also enables the salesperson to identify opportunities for cross-selling and upselling by demonstrating how additional products or services can help the prospect achieve their long-term goals. Additionally, asking about the business strategy helps the salesperson build credibility by showing that they are interested in the prospect’s broader objectives and are committed to assisting them to achieve success. Ultimately, understanding how the purchase fits into the prospect’s overall business strategy can help the salesperson close more deals and build long-term relationships with their clients.
What are the key drivers of success for your business? – A salesperson working for a small business and selling to another business would need to ask a prospect about the critical drivers of success for their business to understand their priorities and position their product or service as a strategic solution. This question helps the salesperson identify the specific factors most important to the prospect’s business, allowing them to tailor their sales pitch to those critical drivers of success. By understanding the key drivers of success, the salesperson can also demonstrate their industry knowledge and expertise by providing insights and advice on achieving success in those areas. Additionally, asking about the key drivers of success shows the prospect that the salesperson is interested in their business and is committed to finding a solution to help them achieve their objectives. Ultimately, understanding the key drivers of success for the prospect’s business will help the salesperson close more deals and establish themselves as a trusted advisor in the eyes of the prospect.
What are your top priorities right now? – A salesperson needs to ask a prospect about their top priorities right now to understand their immediate needs and to position their product or service as a priority solution. This question helps the business-to-business salesperson working for a small business identify which specific pain points the prospect is currently focused on, allowing them to tailor their sales pitch accordingly. By understanding the prospect’s top priorities, the salesperson can position their product or service as a must-have solution, helping the prospect achieve their most critical objectives. Additionally, asking about the prospect’s top priorities shows that the salesperson is interested in understanding their specific needs and requirements and is committed to helping them succeed. Ultimately, understanding the prospect’s top priorities will help the salesperson close more deals and build long-term relationships with their clients.
What metrics do you use to measure the success of your business, and what metrics do you need to accomplish for this project and purchase? – Every salesperson needs to know the metrics for success for the product they are trying to sell. A small business salesperson would need to ask a prospect about the metrics they use to measure the success of their business and what metrics they need to accomplish for a specific project and purchase to understand the prospect’s goals and to position their product or service as a strategic solution. This question helps the salesperson identify the metrics most important to the prospect, allowing them to demonstrate how their product can help the prospect achieve their specific goals. Understanding the metrics also enables the salesperson to demonstrate their industry knowledge and expertise by providing insights and advice on how the prospect can measure their success more effectively. Additionally, asking about metrics shows the prospect that the salesperson is interested in their business and is committed to finding a solution that will help them achieve their objectives. Ultimately, understanding the metrics that are important to the prospect will help the salesperson close more deals and establish themselves as a trusted advisor in the eyes of the prospect.
What are the biggest obstacles preventing you from achieving your goals? – A business-to-business salesperson working for a small business would need to ask a prospect about the most significant obstacles preventing them from achieving their goals to understand their pain points and position their product or service as a solution. This question helps the salesperson identify specific challenges that the prospect is facing, allowing them to offer a customized solution that addresses the prospect’s unique needs. By understanding the prospect’s biggest obstacles, the salesperson can also demonstrate their industry knowledge and expertise by providing insights and advice on overcoming them. Additionally, asking about the obstacles shows the prospect that the salesperson is interested in their business and committed to finding a solution to help them overcome their challenges. Ultimately, understanding the prospect’s most significant obstacles will help the salesperson close more deals and establish themselves as a trusted advisor in the eyes of the prospect.
What impact would achieving these goals have on your business? – Since a small business salesperson is always concerned about wasting their time on an opportunity that will not close, asking a prospect about the impact of achieving their goals on their business to understand the prospect’s motivations and to position their product or service as a strategic solution. This question helps the salesperson identify the specific benefits the prospect is looking to achieve, allowing them to tailor their sales pitch to those particular outcomes. By understanding the impact of achieving the goals, the salesperson can also demonstrate the value proposition of their product or service and show how it can help the prospect realize their objectives. Additionally, asking about the impact of achieving the goals shows the prospect that the salesperson is interested in understanding their business and is committed to finding a solution to help them achieve their desired outcomes. Ultimately, understanding the impact of achieving the goals will help the salesperson close more deals and establish themselves as a trusted advisor in the eyes of the prospect.
How does your purchase decision fit into the larger picture of your business? – This question also helps a business-to-business salesperson working for a small business clarify the priority of working on a project that turns into a successful order. The salesperson should always ask a prospect how their purchase decision fits into the larger picture of their business to understand the prospect’s strategic goals and to position their product or service as a critical component of their business strategy. This question helps the salesperson identify the prospect’s overall business strategy and the specific role their product or service plays in achieving that strategy. By understanding how the purchase decision fits into the larger picture of the business, the salesperson can demonstrate the value of their product or service as a strategic investment that supports the prospect’s overall objectives. Additionally, asking about the larger picture shows the prospect that the salesperson is interested in a deeper understanding and is committed to finding a solution that aligns with their strategic goals. Ultimately, understanding how the purchase decision fits into the larger picture of the business will help the salesperson close more deals and establish themselves as a trusted partner in the eyes of the prospect.
The salesperson should tailor the above questions to the information the salesperson already knows about the prospect’s business. However, every salesperson should understand these high-level questions and try to align their product to them.
Small businesses can compete against larger, well-established companies by developing unique approaches and implementing effective strategies like the Fragment Sales Strategy. By understanding the goals of the customer and breaking down the sales process into smaller, more manageable pieces, salespeople can increase their chances of success and win more sales.
In this episode, Kevin and Sean discussed the importance of setting appropriate sales goals for a company. They suggested starting with the end goal in mind and then working backward to set achievable but challenging targets. They also advise avoiding pitfalls such as not considering attrition or overstating possibilities when setting goals. Finally, they emphasize the importance of dedicating resources to new markets or initiatives to grow the business rather than only replacing lost customers.
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The following is a transcript of the podcast above. It has been sparsely edited to increase its readability, but many of the idioms and poor spoken grammar have been left in place. Fireflies.ai automatically generated the transcription, and, as capable as that product is, there are times when words are missed or the sentence structure is incorrectly interpreted. We have tried to catch all of these software misses, but we are confident that some still remain. The below text is provided for those that would rather read than listen to a podcast.
Hello, and welcome to episode two, not eight, of “Two Guys Talking Sales.” I’m one of your hosts, Kevin.
And I’m Sean.
We’re glad you’re here on this Two Guys Talking Sales episode.
This podcast tackles real sales issues, big and small, for salespeople selling situations and sales leadership. We’ve individually built successful sales careers around the problems and solutions in B-to-B selling, from software and services to manufacturing distribution. We have sold to and for many of the world’s most recognized brands as well as some you have yet to hear of. We know LinkedIn says this is a 30-minute time slot. Still, we’ll only take 15 minutes—nothing like under-promising and over-delivering. For roughly the next 15 minutes, we invite you into our world of experience. We’ll dig into one issue. You’ll have a solution should you encounter a similar situation in your career. Let’s dive in.
Sean, let’s set the stage.
This topic should be about setting your sales plan objectives for this year.
Setting objectives for the year. Like not being tongue-tied on a public broadcast. How about that?
At least you tried to plan ahead and had it written. Now that’s better than I did. I’m just winging it.
Our last episode was all about planning your year. Why not have a plan? Well, so you’ll know how you’re doing?
There you go.
Today, we will talk about how to determine company sales objectives. Yes, let’s do that.