Subscribe to the Podcast now on Apple Podcasts!
Become a member of the elite Institute for Excellence in Sales and watch hundreds of replays!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the CREATIVITY IN SALES Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales and hosted by Fred Diamond on October 23, 2020. It featured best-selling author and world-known sales consultant, author and trainer Mark “The Sales” Hunter.]
Register for Wednesday’s SALES GAME CHANGERS LIVE: Featuring Howard Langsam (Granicus) and Jason Kimrey (Intel) here.
Find Mark on LinkedIn here.
EPISODE 306: Mark “The Sales” Hunter Teaches How to Go Three Levels Deep to Make Your Customer Facing Time So Much More Impactful
MARK’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Sales professionals have an obligation to reach out to people who you know you can help. Your goal is to earn the right, privilege, honor and respect to be able to talk with that person again. When you earn this right, then you can say you had a good day because you’re going to be able to come back and talk with them again and this time, you’ll get a little deeper, and be able to show them the real reason why and how you can help them. Customers are craving this level of transparency, authenticity and engagement.”
Fred Diamond: Mark Hunter, you’re a good friend of the Institute for Excellence in Sales, you’ve been on our Big Stage when we were doing the in-person live events back a couple years ago, very popular. You’re of course the best-selling author of High Profit Prospecting, High Profit Selling and of course A Mind for Sales which came out at a very interesting time, it came out right around the March – April time frame. We actually had you on one of our first webinars and you’ve been a great friend of the Institute, a lot of people ask us to have you back on because you’ve continued to give great ideas for sales professionals. Mark, it’s great to see you, you look great, how are you doing? Let’s get going.
Mark Hunter: I’m doing well, 2020 has turned out a little bit different than we all expected but let’s get past that. Thank you for having me on, you’re right, I did launch the book A Mind for Sales right at the forefront of this whole pandemic situation but it’s worked out well and I’m glad you’ve got me on the creative spot because having a mind for sales does require you to be creative. Here’s what I’m going to share with you this morning, I’m going to share with you just a few ideas and Fred, if questions pop in, go ahead and interrupt me anywhere you want, that’s okay because my goal is to help provide you with a couple of ideas. If you think about sales, what is sales? Sales is about helping others see and achieve what they didn’t think was possible. That’s what I’m going to do here today and we’re going to take the key and put the key into our mind and open some things up and see if we can’t look at things a little differently. To put this into perspective, let me share with you a couple of ideas. I don’t know if you’re like me but I didn’t have anybody who woke up this morning and said, “I hope Mark Hunter calls me.” Fred, I don’t even think you – I just have a feeling you didn’t.
Here’s the whole thing, we have to look at what we do as we don’t sell stuff, we help people achieve what they didn’t think was possible. This morning alone there were over a thousand people that woke up not realizing we could help them and they won’t know unless we reach out to them. Sales is about helping people because customers more than ever right now don’t know what they don’t know. What’s interesting is in this whole era that we’re in right now of this pandemic people are saying, “I can’t do that.” You can do that, sales right now is needed more than ever. The job we do is more important than ever but here’s where it falls down, it falls down very simply because we just don’t believe.
What I’m going to challenge you to do, I want you to take a piece of paper – and this is all this whole creative piece, A Mind for Sales – write down all your customers, all your clients on the left-hand side of the paper and on the right-hand side I want you to write down not what you sold them but the outcomes, the objectives that you helped them create. What’s very interesting is as you go through that list, you are going to see that you made a difference. In fact, after you get done writing that list you’re probably going to throw your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug and you should give yourself a big hug because you’re making a difference. Sales is not about selling stuff. Like I said this morning, there’s probably a hundred thousand people but they won’t know unless we reach out to them. My whole goal is this: if we have the ability to help someone, then it is our responsibility to reach out to them. I hear a lot of salespeople saying, “No, we can’t prospect right now, we’re just going to focus in on our existing customers.” If we have the ability to help someone, it is our responsibility to reach out to them.
Let me put this into context. If you’re driving down a road and you see a car accident, you’re not medically trained, I get it, I’m not medically trained but if I came across a car accident and nobody else was there to help, I’d stop. I’d grab my phone and I’d call 911 but I’d stop and see if I could help them because I have the ability to help them. We have to get over this whole hang-up, “We have to just do all this marketing stuff and advertising stuff and people will call us.” Not going to happen. Sales is about taking the customer to a better place, that’s what we’re doing but here’s the problem, too many of you look like a rain barrel. Let’s put it into context, some of you may not know what a rain barrel is.
Here’s what a rain barrel is, a rain barrel is a barrel that you put outside when it rains and think about this, the only rain it’s going to catch is the rain that comes down from directly above. Up until the pandemic many salespeople were nothing more than rain barrels because the economy was good, business was good, business just flowed and rolled its way in and it was really no real obstacle, there was no real problem because business just happened. The problem is the rain barrel doesn’t work anymore, we have to be a rainmaker. To be a rainmaker we have to look at things differently. We’re traveling down a highway right now and the problem is we don’t know where the highway is going. Fred and I were talking before we hit record, before we began we were talking about the whole situation, what we think 2021 was going to be like and all we could do was share opinions, that’s all, we don’t know.
What we have to do in sales is say, “I’m on this highway but I don’t know where I’m going. I better know where I’m going and I better know where I’m going with a plan” and the plan is pretty simple: go back to what I shared with you initially taking that piece of paper, all your customers and all your outcomes. What I want you to do is dial in on only who your best customers are. Here’s something I’ve found in this pandemic mode that we’re in. It’s easy for us to get distracted and it’s easy for us to get caught up in non-revenue producing activity. “I need to take care of this, I need to respond to this, I need to do this.” More than ever right now we have to be zeroed in so this highway we’re on, we need to know exactly where we’re going and I want you to be going to only your ICP – your Ideal Customer Profile. I want you to create an avatar. Most of you listening to this are probably in your home office, I want you to put pictures up on a wall of your best customers. I want you to be thinking as to who your best customers are. Everything you do must be dialed in and around who your best customer is and we have to eliminate everything else out there.
Let me share with you the 2×4 principle. The 2×4 principle is not where you go and you take a 2×4 and you whack it against the side off your head, the 2×4 principle is how I want you to look at your day. For those of you listening, I have a picture of a 2×4 and it’s called Time Management 2×4 Principle. I want you to take your day and I want you to break it up into four segments of two hours each and I want you to put into mind these tree letters, CFT – I talk a lot about this in my book, A Mind for Sales – Customer Facing Time. Your whole objective is to say, “How do you increase your CFT?” In order to do that I’ve got to take everything else off my plate. I want you to start thinking about your day in two hour blocks of time. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s watching or listening to this saying, “I don’t have anything else to do, let me re-watch this Fred Diamond, Mark Hunter interview in slow motion because I don’t have anything else.” I don’t think that’s the case, we’re all racing incredibly fast but the problem is are we productive?
Break your day into four 2-hour segments and you’re going to assign each 2-hour segments with a specific outcome – not activity, outcome – that you’re going to achieve and they’ve got to be focused around CFT. Let me give you an example of how I structure my day, I’m going to have one 2-hour block where I am just prospecting, I am looking to engage early leads. These are leads who I really don’t know if they’re going to be customers yet but I’m prospecting them and I hold myself accountable and the outcome is I’ve got 10, 12, 14 calls I’m going to make and I expect to have one or two conversations and I want to be able to take one and move them forward. That’s the outcome I’m looking for. I’m going to take another 2-hour segment and I’ve got to just respond to these two proposals, I’ve got to get these two proposals and I got to have a conversation, I’m going to try to close these deals.
That is that 2-hour segment, then I might have another 2-hour segment where I just need to do research and I’m going to dedicate 2 hours to research. Then there might be another 2 hours where I’ve got to do a webinar with Fred Diamond so I need to allocate 2 hours to get ready for that, to get set up for that and to do that webinar. Here’s what I find, when I do this I actually find myself being far more productive and I increase my CFT.
What’s interesting is we get caught up doing everything else, we get caught up in email, we get caught up in everything else. I had to apologize to Fred before this show began because he sent me an email about a couple months ago asking me for something and I didn’t respond to him. If you’re watching this, Fred is shaking his head saying, “Yes, you dropped the ball, you really blew it.” I dropped the ball because unfortunately I allocate time and I wasn’t able to. Was that a down side? Yes, I regret it but overall – and Fred, I hope you still like me when I get done – I think I’m still 90% more effective. There are going to be some things that are going to drop through the cracks, I totally get that but you have to be willing to accept that. If you think about this, the most productive people know they will never be able to do everything 100% but what they do know is they stay focused and I want you focused on your CFT. Mark Cuban, Shark Tank, owner of The Dallas Mavericks, he always makes a comment, “Never attend a meeting unless somebody’s bringing you a check.” That may be pushing it a little too far for where we are in our respective world, but the concept remains. CFT, Customer Facing Time.
Let’s drill down a little deeper into this whole Customer Facing Time and I want you to always have a pair of binoculars with you, the pair of binoculars are geared to do one thing, help you see better, help you see further, help you see clearer. One of the challenges we have in sales is that we’re actually afraid to ask the difficult question. Say you’re with a SaaS company right now, you’re probably familiar with this sales model. The sales model is you get a lead and your objective is to take them to a demo where you show them the software and then you try to close after that. The good process is where you have the lead, you take them to a discovery call where you really uncover their need, then you take them to a demo and then you try to close. I want you to look at every sale you make as requiring a discovery call and again, I talk about this a lot on my book, A Mind for Sales. It’s what I call going three level deep with your questions, here’s what you do. You want to engage the customer and it’s not what you share that is going to have you being seen as brilliant, it’s the questions you ask that are going to have you being seen as brilliant. What this comes down to is it’s the questions I ask and I want to be asking questions right upfront in the prospecting phase, I want to ask them difficult questions upfront. If you’re not a prospect you’re a suspect and I don’t have time for suspects. I’ve got these binoculars out and I’m zeroing in on you, I’m locking in on you and I’m asking you a question and the three level deep process works like this. I ask you a question, you share with me. I take whatever it is that you share with me and I ask you another question that drills down further. The easiest way to do this is by simply asking, “Could you explain that a little further? Could you give me another example? Could you walk me through that again? Why? How come?”
What I’ve found is short questions get you long answers. Too many salespeople get into this wonky conversation, I see this in demos when I’m observing salespeople doing a demonstration and then they go, “I’ve got to engage the customer” and then they go, “So what do you think?” and the customer goes, “I don’t know” because they don’t have a clue. I want to ask you a question that’s going to get you to engage so I ask a question, you respond, I ask you a follow-up question on that, now I’m starting to go down a little bit deeper. I take whatever it is that you share with me now and I drill down even deeper going two ways. One, I ask you a question about this right then and there but then I hold onto that piece of information that you shared with me and I’m going to come back and I’m going to follow up again on it later. I’m going three levels deep with my information. What I’m doing here is I have to get to the real reason why and how I’m going to be able to help you. What I see happening to often and this happens especially right now in this situation that we’re in. People are trying to make us all be a commodity, they’re trying to have us viewing that what we sell is nothing more than a commodity. False, the only way I break that is by going as deep down into understanding who and what you are.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic and it has changed everybody’s binoculars. We’re looking at customers differently and they’re looking at us differently. People are craving right now for serious communication, authenticity and transparency, that creates a level of confidence and integrity and now more than ever that’s what customers are looking for, people want to engage. Here’s one of the easiest ways that I share in terms of getting people to engage in this pandemic world because the majority of conversations that we’re having are happening just like we’re having here, GoToMeeting. It might be Microsoft Teams, it might be Zoom, it might be the telephone but what’s interesting is every person has a backstory and I’ve got to be prepared to hear that. Before we hit record, Fred and I were talking about how things have been going on, we were talking about each other’s backstory. More than ever right now empathy is a sales trait, empathy is more important than ever and when I take a moment and allow myself to demonstrate empathy to hear what your backstory is and be prepared to share a little bit about my backstory, it is amazing how much more dialogue you get out of the person. What happens is you’re able to go three levels deep.
Look at this phrase, “You do not close a sale, you open a relationship.” The only good sale is one that leads to the next sale and if you’re listening to this live, we’re in the start of the fourth quarter. This is the motivation quarter, what it means is there’s a race to get sales in by the end of the year which means we have to keep things simple for our customer, which means trust and confidence is even more important. This is where transparency and authenticity becomes absolutely key. When I’m able to secure you as a customer, that’s when I can really begin to demonstrate how I’m going to serve you and if this initial sale does not lead to the next sale then all I did was sell you a commodity. I don’t want to sell commodities because if all I’m viewed as is being a person who sells commodities, I will be replaced by the internet. You would not need to talk with me. More than ever I have to be seen as anything but a commodity which means I have to be willing to go three levels deep.
Let me begin putting a little bit of a wrap on this here for a second because what have been the key things I’ve been talking about? One, it is about having A Mind for Sales and it starts with understanding who your Ideal Customer Profile is. I’m going to challenge you, take a piece of paper, write down your customers, write down the outcomes and take that piece of paper and keep that right by your desk, keep it right with you. There are times when you’re not going to feel so motivated to make a phone call and I want you to look at that list and go, “Wow, I am pretty good, look at what I was able to do.” There are a thousand people who woke up this morning and they need your help. You can’t be afraid to interrupt because if you have the ability to help someone, it’s your responsibility. We then talked about Customer Facing Time and for the next two weeks, put a piece of paper right by your phone, desk or computer and keep a track record of CFT.
Customer Facing Time is broken down into three ways. One, CFT time is the time you spent physically engaged with new prospects whether it be a phone call, Zoom link, whether it be an email you’re sending. There’s another Customer Facing Time which is the time you spend with existing customers. For many of you watching this, you may spend the bulk of your time with existing customers and that’s fine, there’s another bench mark but you’ve got to measure those separately because otherwise what happens is you’ll say, “I’ve listened to that Mark Hunter, Fred Diamond event and CFT, I’m doing it” but you’re spending all your time with one customer. I have to make sure that I have Customer Facing Time with both prospects and existing customers. There’s a third level of CFT, preparation to prospect. I break this out totally separately for one very simple reason, it is too easy for us to sit there and say, “I’m going to prospect all afternoon” but what happens is all you do is wind up getting ready to prospect and then, “It’s 5 o’clock already, it’s time to shut things down” and you never made a phone call. What I do is I track CFT three different ways and I allocate time for each one of those and that’s how you can use the four 2-hour blocks, the 2×4 mentality.
The last piece I talked about was going three levels deep with your questions, don’t be shy, don’t back off, power in quickly because you are in a position to be able to help the customer and when you help the customer you’re creating a level of trust and confidence. The customer is not going to buy from you on anything but low price unless they have a high degree of trust and confidence with you, and trust and confidence is seen, shown and demonstrated by you being able to listen to what the customer shared and you in turn asking questions relative to that. When you do that, it’s amazing what happens.
If we have the ability to help someone then it is our responsibility to reach out to them. I want you right now to write down who are the 10 people that you know you can reach out to and it’s your responsibility because sales is about taking the customer to a better place. These are some of the one thousand people that woke up this morning, they don’t know you, you have to reach out to them and you will interrupt them but they’re going to be thankful you interrupted them when you eventually get to do business with them.
Fred, jump in, let’s get some questions rolling.
Fred Diamond: Mark, this is fantastic and I love the way you brought it all together in a relatively short amount of time. We have questions coming in here, this is from MC and MC attends a lot of our webinars, I don’t know who MC is. MC, send me your name via the question panel.
Mark Hunter: This would be a long-time listener but not a first time caller?
Fred Diamond: [Laughs] I see MC on all the time. MC says, “Mark, thank you so much for sharing, you mentioned three level deep. Give us an example to demonstrate this technique, I don’t quite understand exactly what it is.” Thank you, MC, whoever you are.
Mark Hunter: Fred, you happen to be my customer so I’m going to share with you. “Fred, tell me about your business because you really network people together, how your business has changed over the last year.” We’ll say that you shared me something and I’ll say, “Fred, can you give me an example of how that’s changed?” You’re going to share with me and then going three levels deep, “How do you think that’s changed how your members receive value from what it is that you provide?” In a very quick manner I’ve taken Fred down to where he’s sharing what he sees as the value his members are receiving. That helps me because now I can say, “Fred, I’ve got some ideas as to how we might be able to increase the value that your members receive.” In a very simple manner I just keep building on what you share with me.
Fred Diamond: MC actually came back and what MC says that they do is they sell ready-to-drink juice and MC says that the pain that they solve is that people now are not getting enough vegetable and fruit intake due to busy lifestyle. Probably a lot of it is also due to how we’re living right now. It occurred to me the other day that I’m sitting on this chair, I try to get up, I see the treadmill right there but let’s take MC’s example. I know you actually spend a lot of time in the food industry as well.
Mark Hunter: A lot in common. We’ll say that you’re speaking to an individual consumer because you may be selling to distributors but we’ll just use this as a consumer. I might say, “Fred, I’m sure you’re eating differently as a result of COVID, right?” and you’re going to share with me, “What does a typical meal look like for you?” and then you share. Then I can come back and say, “How do you think your nutrition is doing?” I have to allow the customer to drive the conversation, this is totally different than what most salespeople have been trained. Most salespeople have been trained, “I have to drive the conversation.” I’m saying no, let the customer drive because when the customer drives they feel like, “You’re really listening to me.” What happens then is when the customer says something, they really believe it. I’m able to take you down to this point and what’s interesting is this three level deep makes it seem like I’m creating a more complex sale process, I’m actually simplifying, I actually sell faster.
Fred Diamond: We talked about this a lot on the various Sales Game Changers webcast that we do over the course of the week, the questions that you’re talking about here, I think you eluded to this. You need to know questions that are going to show the customer that you have given some thought, that you understand what they’re going through right now. Almost everybody has the same three things in common, how do we get past the COVID-ness, secondly, how do we get past the business repercussions of everything relate to COVID and then the third thing, whatever the third thing might be. It’s like we’re starting from the same place in the first time in sales history where we know that our customers are going through those two things at some level from the business perspective that we’re trying to sell them to. Talk a little bit about really smart preparation, what do you recommend great salespeople do? Then Mark, coming down towards the end here I want to get your final thought as well. Talk about preparation and what that means today.
Mark Hunter: First of all, I want you to focus you prospecting, your sales by vertical channel, industry, whatever it is. In other words, you may have a wide territory but I want you to segment by industry, by vertical, by channel. This allows you to become more of an expert. I was with a group yesterday and I shared with them this very simple concept that is you get focused in on this vertical, this channel, create a book, create a drive on your computer system where you’re logging all the notes you’re learning about this industry. It allows you to be seen as more of an expert, it just gives you more confidence. The work you need to do, we can get specific, Sam Richter, good friend of ours, good friend of the Institute has a terrific intel engine on giving you individual insight but a lot of times you just can’t get that individual insight. What you can learn is something about their industry, something about their company. It isn’t like, “I just looked at your website and I see you did this” or, “I looked at your LinkedIn profile.”
We can do better than that, you can share something relative to the industry. For instance, Fred, I know that you’re in the DC area so I can simply engage you by saying, “The pandemic has changed a lot of things, government is still very much functioning but what are you seeing happening with other businesses in the metro DC area?” Is Fred going to have an opinion on it? You bet Fred’s going to have an opinion on it because I just know that the Institute operates in the metro DC area. I don’t have to get granular, I just have to be specific enough to be able to engage you and this is the whole key thing. Customers now more than ever want to be engaged and when you’re engaged, that means it’s a conversation that they feel is meaningful. It’s not me picking up the phone, “Hi, I’m Mark Hunter, I’m known as The Sales Hunter…” Fred, if I called, you’d hang up on me but if I call you and say, “Fred, I know you have the Institute in the DC area, what are your members telling you about the economy?” Fred’s going to have an opinion, he’s going to share with me, that’s what I want.
What we have to do is we have to engage you, the customer, the prospect, on your level, on your terms. Let me put this into a final piece here, your objective is as I’ve been saying, you have an obligation to reach out to people who you know you can help but here’s what it comes down to. Your goal is to earn the right, privilege, honor and respect to be able to talk with that person again. You may have many phone calls that don’t go anywhere on any given day, it happens to me all the time but all I want to do is earn the right, the privilege, the honor and the respect to be able to talk with you again. When I do that, then I can say I had a good day and I’m going to be able to come back and talk with you again. That’s the final piece that I want to leave you with and I do hope that you pick up the book A Mind for Sales. Fred, back to you.
Fred Diamond: Mark Hunter, thank you so much. We’re getting some nice notes here, Richie says, “Thank you so much”, Mike says, “Great job as always”, Teresa says, “Thank you so much to The Sales Hunter.” Mark, I want to acknowledge you for all the great work that you do for the sales profession. For people around the globe you obviously have written some books that we’ve referenced many times and you’ve also been very generous with how you provide value. I really love what you just said here, that we have an obligation to speak but we also have to earn the right to have that second conversation by helping people and providing value. I want to thank all of our viewers today from around the world, thank you all so much. Mark, be well, stay safe. Thanks, Mark.
Mark Hunter: Great selling.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo