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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This podcast, sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales featured an interview with Carajane Moore of Hunt Big Sales. She is the author of Life After the Death of Selling.]
Find Carajane on LinkedIn.
CARAJANE’S TIP: “What’s going through the mind of the senior buyer is the biggest problem that they need to solve. To gain access to that bigger buyer, you need to know what that problem is, declare that you know what the problem is, and then be able to demonstrate your expertise in solving that problem. That’s kind of a big shift into the way that we used to sell versus what we need to do to gain access today.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: I’m excited to talk to you today, Carajane. The topic is three actions that will make or break your 2023. We became aware of you through your books, of course. You’ve written some great ones and we’re looking forward to referring to those, but also, you’re friends with one of our good friends, Andy Miller, who is, he’s been on the Sales Game Changers podcast before. He’s also spoken at the Institute and spoken very, very highly of you over the years.
Of course, you’re the best-selling author of How to Sell in Place and Life After the Death of Selling: How to Thrive in the New Era of Sales. Your company, of course, you’re the president of Hunt Big Sales and it is a new era. We’re two and a half years into whatever this new world is and 2023 is going to be a challenge for many. Sales is hard as it is, and we’ve thrown so many things at sales professionals over the last two and a half years. Let’s just get started. Let’s get everybody on the same page here. Why is 2023 going to be a challenging year for everybody?
Carajane Moore: Well, first, thanks for having me on. I’m so happy to be here and of course, I love Andy Miller as well. Longtime friend as well, so glad to be here. Why is 2023 going to be a challenging year? Well, I think that we all recognize that COVID is dead but there’s this looming threat of recession. You’ve got the inflation, you’ve got all these other pieces going on.
As we go forward and looking to 2023, there is this concern about the fact that there’s a recession, and people aren’t going to have money, they won’t be buying products or services, whether it is business to consumer or business to business, and so there is a concern. If you understand that, like the title of the book, Life After the Death of Sales, the old way of selling or the traditional way of selling has also shifted. If we haven’t shifted with that, it will make 2023 a very challenging year.
Fred Diamond: People are listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast because they want answers. We have thousands of people around the globe who listen, and again, they read the transcriptions. We’re going to be talking today about some things you should be doing or you better be starting now to hopefully be on the front end of a lot of the changes.
You deal with a lot of companies that like to go after big deals as well. In order for that to happen, you need to get to the senior buyer. Let’s talk right now about what’s going through the mind of the senior buyer. We get this question all the time. How do I get to the right person especially as high up as possible? Talk a little bit about what some of the things are that are going through their minds right now and will be in 2023.
Carajane Moore: Well, that’s a really good question. The senior buyers, conversely from before where we were trying to build relationships and have conversations and get into discussions at the senior level by going through a lower level, going up, building relationships. What’s going on now is the senior buyers have serious problems and they are looking for experts to solve those problems. Where we used to go relationship, to trust, to buy, that has shifted. It is expertise, to trust, to buy.
What’s going through the mind of the senior buyer is the biggest problem that they need to solve. To gain access to that bigger buyer, you need to know what that problem is, declare that you know what the problem is, and then be able to demonstrate your expertise in solving that problem. That’s kind of a big shift into the way that we used to sell versus what we need to do to gain access today.
Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about the first step there. You said, understand what their problem is. Let’s talk about that. What are some of your recommendations for sales professionals right now? Because the other thing too is, and we talk about this a lot. One of the other major shifts that we’ve seen, Carajane, over the last a couple of years is that you’re focused on solving your customers problems, helping them solve their biggest problems, like you just said.
Now, over the last few years, our customers have even bigger challenges with solving their customers’ problems, and not just their customers’, but their customers’ customers’ problems because of all the things related to what we’ve learned over the last couple of years. Tell the sales professionals and sales leaders listening today, give us some of your thoughts on how they can hasten the process to get to where they can communicate to the buyers, that they do understand their problems, they do have solutions.
Carajane Moore: First and foremost, if you understand and do the research upfront, we all know we’re supposed to prep before sales calls. We’re all sales professionals, right? But sometimes the research that we’re asking to do in today’s world looks a little bit different. You really need to understand, what are the corporate initiatives? If you’re going up to the senior buyers, senior buyers are only caring about those senior corporate initiatives. You need to align the types of solutions you have to what are the corporate initiatives that they’re doing.
Another way is, if they’re publicly held companies, listen in on the quarterly earnings reports. What are the core issues that are happening and what are the core places that they are investing? How do you go do that? You look at that. The other side of this and this is one of the easiest ways is look at your current customer base, and understand what business problems, not tactical problems, but business problems have you solved for your current customer base and understand the impact that they have made. Generally, that will tell you that that is the problem of the other types of opportunities you’re going after in the marketplace that you solve.
Fred Diamond: I have a question for you. You work with a lot of sales leaders and sales professionals. How would you recommend that sales professionals and sales leaders today demonstrate that they have this expertise? Obviously, when you have the opportunity to be with the customer, then you can come prepared and hopefully offer some salient solutions that are solving their specific problems.
I’m just curious on your thoughts on this. How do you recommend that sales professionals and leaders position them in the marketplace? We talk a lot about being a thought leader and using social selling, etc. I’m just curious because of the high level of deals and the volume, or I should say, the large value of the deals that you frequently help your customers with. What are some of your recommendations for the salespeople to make them stand out as having this expertise before you get the opportunity to be in front of the customer?
Carajane Moore: To stand out as an expert in doing this, first, you want to be able to connect with them and you need to connect with them through a soft connection already. Who do you know that knows them? Two, as an expert, you declare the problem they have, you don’t ask them the problem they have. You declare the problem they have and then you also declare the outcomes that you have generated in solving those problems for others.
By doing that, you’re immediately elevating yourself not to a general conversation where you’re looking to understand more, but to somebody who understands that problem, understands the impact of that problem, and have created viable solutions to that problem. It’s the language you use and talking in the terms of the senior buyer that allows you to demonstrate your expertise.
Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about opportunities and prospecting and trying to understand high probability versus low probability. It’s a big challenge right now we all have limited time and resources and our companies, our leaders above us, they want to know, are we focusing on the right places? And of course, forecasting is still as critical as it is. Talk a little bit about how to separate high probability opportunities versus lower ones, maybe quicker than we typically have.
Carajane Moore: In today’s marketplace, as you mentioned, we don’t have time and senior executives want to know, are you working in on the right things? Hopefully, the senior executives are also describing to you what they expect the right things to be. But as a salesperson, as you’re looking at the marketplace, it’s important for you to quickly identify when you’re talking to somebody, do they have the problem that you solve? Meaning, you declare that these are the problems, do they have it, do they recognize it, and do they have an urgency to solve it?
Those are the first ways to determine, is this a high probability for me to talk to them or are they just doing a commodity type of conversation looking to switch vendors? If they’re looking to switch vendors, this is a low probability. The other side that you’re going to be wanting to understand is, what is the change driver? Why are they wanting to make that change? If there’s no change driver, there’s no change. This is a really important understanding. If there’s no change driver, there’s no change.
If you can’t find the why, the change driver, change drivers can be anything from compliance to regulations to corporate goals that have been stated publicly and corporate initiatives to technology or market conditions. All of those are great change drivers. If your prospects can tell you what the change driver is, most likely, you have a high probability. If they don’t have that, it’s probably a low probability.
If they have a measurement for success of the solution that you’re bringing to the table, great indicator that there’s a high probability. They know exactly what they’re looking for and the outcomes they need. If they don’t have a measurement for success, chances are, it’s a low probability, or there needs to be a lot more education there. A new buyer, a new person trying to evaluate the solution you’re bringing. Maybe this is a new solution to them. Those are some quick ways to do, is this a high probability of a good opportunity, or a low probability?
Fred Diamond: I’m just curious, we have sales professionals and leaders from all over the globe either listening to today’s Sales Game Changers podcast or reading the transcript. What are people asking you for help right now? You work with great companies and you help them put processes in place and understand things. I’m just curious so that people can understand, what are some of the main things that they’re seeking your help from right now?
Carajane Moore: The organizations that are seeking our help are looking to land either very large deals, meaning that they’ve lost a couple of large deals or they’ve lost a couple of large clients. They understand that they don’t have the right systems and structure in place to hunt, land, or serve those large customers. What we do is actually bring the strategy, the structure, the processes and systems to do that. They’re looking for us to do that.
They’re also looking for us because they really have a desire to grow and they need to land some large deals. They need the revenue. They’re looking for rapid revenue and, in this marketplace, one of the few ways you can grow rapidly if you’re not going to merge or acquire anybody is to land larger deals. That’s going to help you jump the shark tank of growth, if you will.
Fred Diamond: That makes a lot of sense. What do you see people doing wrong? Again, you’ve been in this game for a while now. Even today, what are some of the things that you constantly see your clients or sales organizations that you work with doing wrong?
Carajane Moore: I will tell you, one of the first things that they’re doing wrong is they’re hunting everything. In today’s marketplace, you need to really tighten up who you’re going after, who you can solve the problem for, and hunt really well. Do a few things really well, and land those large opportunities. By hunting a lot of things, by having a large pipeline, you are diluting your efforts, and so your conversion rate and what you’re landing is not landing. It’s a diminishing yield. They’re doing too many. They’re also calling too low in the organization, and trying to sell opportunities in a commoditized world but they don’t want to be a commodity, but yet, that’s the way they sell. They go too low and try to talk about price, quality and service versus really the impacts of time, money and risk. Those would be two of the big things that people are doing wrong and are finding that they’re not getting the outcomes they’re looking for.
Fred Diamond: I’m curious on the big deals, if you will. You made a great point there. One way to bring in revenue, hopefully, is by going after bigger deals, bigger customers that can afford more of what you’re offering. What do sales professionals not understand about that, that may be constantly doing wrong?
I understand what you said about selling too low and selling to too many organizations. But once they’re in the deal, once they have an opportunity to go after a large deal, they’ve gotten past the first couple of hurdles and there’s true opportunity and we’re in the game. We’re in the funnel somewhere. What are some of the things that they, I don’t want to say that they get wrong, but that they don’t really understand that they should understand?
Carajane Moore: Well, there’s a couple of things that I find consistently that people don’t understand that they should understand. First and foremost, as you go larger in an organization, there are a lot more buyers than people are used to, and we ignore those buyers. On a larger deal, you’ve got an average of 9 to 11 buyers and we’re really only talking to one or two.
You’re losing the deal because there are people in the buying process that are against your solution and we don’t know how to navigate that. We bring too few people. So it’s ourself, and we don’t want to bring anybody else. By the way, I’ve been in all of those meetings where you’ve brought somebody and they said something and you’re like, “Ah, I can’t believe they just said that to the prospect.” I understand why there is a nervousness to bring more people. But in the larger deals, what really needs to happen is it needs to be a team, peer to peer team sale from our team with their team working together to solve the problem. Not bringing enough people on our side, not getting enough of their people on their side involved fingerprints on the solution to win.
Fred Diamond: We have a lot of young sales professionals listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast, and some of them work for large companies, some of the top sales organizations in the world. Again, we have our premier Women in Sales employer designation, and they’re typically companies with large sales organizations, but back to junior people, what do they need to know?
A lot of the stuff you’re telling us here is just absolutely brilliant and it’s really, really impactful but for someone who’s maybe in their first two or three years of sales, what would you want them to truly understand? They’re probably not going to close these big deals on their own, you’re absolutely right, that you need to bring a team. We’ve all been in those meetings where someone said something or they weren’t paying attention and then you’re wondering, why did I bring this person? We just lost the deal for whatever the reason might be. But what are some of the things that you want to get across to junior sales professionals to get them to the point where they’re comfortable engaging in these types of deals?
Carajane Moore: One, I love the women’s designation and Women in Sales, because that is a place that I think we need more equity. More diversity and more equity into that department. But the junior salespeople, what I think a couple of things would be really critical for them at this point in their career is to truly understand, to show up different. Show up with an agenda that has the outcomes that the person you’re talking to is already agreed to before you show up. Because if you show up with an agenda, with outcomes that we’re all trying to accomplish, you are now moving from a set of conversations to a series of outcomes in a process, whether you have it defined or not, that the customer can follow with you. Then always have that agenda, whether you’ve got senior people with you or subject matter experts with you, because you can’t close them alone, but be the quarterback of the deal.
Make sure all of the details, all of the agendas, all of the prep work and follow up is done. I think juniors wants to leave everything to the senior people. Be active. Your voice needs to be heard. Set the agendas, set the professionalism at an early age and start there. You’re going to make a huge impact versus your competitors, and even some of your other salespeople that are senior in your organization.
Fred Diamond: You talked about this in the beginning, what are customers thinking? But further, just as a follow-on question, because that was such a great answer to the junior sales professionals out there. Give them more insight into what’s going on in the mind, especially right now. Again, we’re doing this interview at the end of 2022. The topic is how to be successful in 2023, how to prepare. Give them a deeper understanding of what literally is going through the mind of the customer.
Don’t say something vague, like, it’s to solve problems. Companies are under so much pressure right now for so many different things, and that’s one of the key things, Carajane, that we’ve learned over the last couple of years, is that it’s not just about what we do to help you. It’s about what’s really going on with you because you’re impacted by everything related to the health side of the COVID, and then everything related to the financial side and then however else this is impacted. Even down to the personal level.
We’re not going to spend too much time talking about this today, but every other show, Carajane, we talk about mental health, and we talk about that type of a rooted type of thing. But give our listeners some peek into, from your expertise, what is going through the mind of the senior customers that we’re trying to focus on?
Carajane Moore: The mind of the senior customers right now are absolutely personnel. We all know that there is a lack of personnel and every one of my customers has an enormous number of open job slots that they don’t have filled. So they don’t have enough people to do the work that they need to do and if you’re in that, you already know your operations is struggling.
They’re trying to understand personnel and how are they going to get the talent? How are they going to backfill for talent? How do they retain the talent that they have? How do they keep you engaged and happy? At the same time, we’re looking at some inflation, we’re looking at potentially a recession. There are some cost pressures in the marketplace that everybody’s looking at.
We’re kind of coming out of a little bit of the supply chain, but supply chain is not fixed. It’s not a solved problem. That is the other thing, how do I get distribution? How do I get my voice out into the marketplace? How do I stay ahead of the game? Then one of the last things that is really important, and you see in all of the large organizations, is there’s this federal mandate for sustainability. It’s something that has been there for a little bit, but it’s gaining more and more attention, and they’re more and more behind in reaching those goals.
You’ve got a whole department struggling that isn’t working with the rest of the people in their organization. Specifically, you’ve got pressures on pricing. So you’ve got price pressures, you’ve got delivery pressures, you’ve got personnel pressures, and you’ve got making your profit number pressures. Those are the things that your senior buyers are trying to solve and a variety of ways to solve them. If you can tie into any of those pressures that you see in the marketplace, even in your own company, most likely the senior buyers of your prospects are having some of those same challenges.
Fred Diamond: That’s an amazing answer in a couple of different ways. One is, for the listeners, your customer, especially at the senior level, he or she is not just concerned with what you’re going to be offering them to help solve a problem. You touched on so many things. I hearken back to an interview we did in June of 2021. It was with a senior sales leader at Dun and Bradstreet, his name is Tim Solms.
I asked him, “What is your big priority right now?” He said, “Managing the fatigue of our people.” This was in June of 2021, and that was over a year ago but I still get people who bring up that because people are still struggling. We mentioned women in sales. One of the reasons why we created at the Institute for Excellence in Sales the premier Women in Sales employer designation is because there are some estimates that 1.5 to 2 million women have left the white-collar workforce over the last two years related to having to all the stress with taking care of the family and health and everything related to that as well.
But the other thing that I really was impressed with your answer is you talked about another issue that you might not be thinking about, which is sustainability. I’m good friends with a consultant who runs a sustainability practice. We talked about where are we? I mean, you and I are both in the United States and we talked about where is the United States from sustainability on a scale of 1 to 10. He said, “We’re still at a one.”
I’m really glad that you threw that in which leads to the concept that it’s not just about customer has a very simple challenge. It’s the sell more of their stuff. It’s about finding people, it’s about showing people that they care, maintaining a great workforce, managing all the economic macro things that are going on as well. Then something as nuanced as sustainability.
The other reason before I ask your last question here, that’s really interesting, when we polled a lot of the women who are participating in the Institute for Excellence in Sales, especially under the age of 40, sustainability. “Is my company following sustainability?” was a number three priority. If you’re selling some type of technology, you probably can’t help that but you could be empathetic and understanding that that’s something that they’re challenged with.
Carajane Moore: Well, absolutely. When you start talking about the workforce, you start talking about attrition, you start talking about acquiring talent. The workforce is interested in sustainability as a whole. It’s one of the social issues, it is definitely a pressure against all of the corporations as well as their employees and all their issues. It’s an issue not just for the PR that says we’re sustainable but it’s an issue for attracting and retaining talent as well as meeting federal guidelines and being a social conscious company because of the social pressures in the marketplace right now, too. It’s a real issue. It’s not a fluff issue, that I think so many people want to place it as, and it’s not that.
Fred Diamond: Oh, it absolutely isn’t. I love the way you tied this in with how companies are always going to be challenged even with whatever might happen and probably will happen economically in 2023. You still need great people who are committed to your vision to help your company be successful, not just on the customer side, but on the sales side, and you need to truly be attuned.
I mean, that’s another thing we’ve learned over the last two and a half years, the whole concept of social injustice and is my company a participant in doing the right thing? That’s something that you want to be in line with for your customers. Well, this has been great. I just got one last question before I ask you for your final action step. Sales leaders, what is your advice? One of the hardest jobs, of course, is first-time sales leader, and a lot of them have become sales leaders during the last two and a half years. We’ve interfaced with so many people, Carajane. A lot of people were promoted in early 2020. No one foresaw what was going to happen into their first sales leader role. Everybody was working from home, they couldn’t see, they couldn’t touch and we know a lot of people who struggled. What is your advice for them as they’re leading their teams to be successful in 2023?
Carajane Moore: As a sales leader, oftentimes there’s some confusion about what that job really is. There’s compliance, there is supervising, there’s management and then there’s leadership. In some cases, as a sales leader, you have truly the leadership of the sales force and other cases as a sales leader, you also have the sales management of the sales force.
We use terms in today’s world to mean multiple things and everybody takes apart from it what they need. But as a sales leader, my strong recommendation is to separate out your coaching on deals and your coaching of your people, versus your compliance and management of accountability. Compliance and management of accountability is a separate conversation. Leadership, coaching on how to go after a deal, strategy, those types of things should be separated so that they can be heard and valued by the person that you’re speaking to. That doesn’t mean don’t hold people accountable. Absolutely hold people accountable to the commitments they’ve made, but coach them, develop them. There have been years of some lost training, some lost development of people, and your people are looking to you to set direction, give them the direction, push them where they need to go and coach them to be better in the craft of sales.
Fred Diamond: Yeah, it’s essentially what you just said. One of my first cousins is a high school history teacher in New Jersey, and we’ve talked about this numerous times. He said, “We’ve lost a whole generation of students for the last two years.” Eighty percent of the students he said that he teaches have just forgotten what it meant to be a student and the schools weren’t really able to keep up with that.
I like the interesting corollary that you just made to having lost possibly a generation of sales professionals. Now, of course, the sales professionals, if you’re going to have the job, you should have the wherewithal to stay up to speed with how to be a professional. If you’re listening to this Sales Game Changers podcast episode, or even reading the transcript, congratulations to you for wanting to stay up to speed on what you should be doing and continuously learning and looking for avenues and ideas. Again, Carajane Moore is one of those people that you should be following, get her books, and continue to learn from her.
Along those lines, again, Andy just introduced us to you as our good friend, Tommy Schaff who actually was a guest on the podcast. We did a bunch of research on the work that you’ve done and what you’ve written, and I just want to applaud you for the great work that your company has done and for the work that you and your team has done in helping sales professionals excel during normal times. But also particularly over the last couple of years, and the work that you’re doing to help them as they move forward. Because sales is always hard, and it’s getting a little bit harder but there’s plenty of opportunities out there to provide value to your customers. Carajane, congrats on that. As we like to do with every Sales Game Changers podcast episode, give us your final action step. You’ve given us so many great ideas. Give us something specific right now that people should do after listening to today’s show to take their sales career to the next level.
Carajane Moore: I’ve got a final action step for everybody, as we’re talking about the looming of 2023. Really look at the marketplaces that are going to grow through the crisis and those that are going to struggle and then look at where are you spending your time and energy? You can Google all of that information. It’s not hard, quick Google search, and then figure out where you guys set and can you move to a marketplace that is growing? Spend the time to be strategic in how you approach the marketplace, so that you can go after where the money’s going to be, not just where everybody else is.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo