EPISODE 347: The Sales Whisperer Wes Schaeffer Explains Why Breaking Down Sales Activities into 15 Minute Chunks is Game Changing

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Creativity in Sales Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on March 21, 2021. It featured The Sales Whisperer Wes Schaeffer.]

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WES’ TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “This is kind of hard, but if you do it, it’ll make all the difference. I tell everybody to detach, detach from the outcome.  Make sure you’re taking the right steps, chunk your time down to 15-minute increments, make sure every 15 minutes you’re doing the right thing. I tell everyone, look at what you do two or three times a day or four or five times a week and have a process for it. If you can, automate it.  Figure out what you do repeatedly, and at minimum and then automate it.”

Fred Diamond: We’ve got The Sales Whisperer, he’s the host of The Sales Podcast and we’re thrilled to have you here, Wes. We’re going to be talking about the five proven steps to make every sale. Wes, it’s good to have you here today. We’ve been LinkedIn buddies for a while and we’ve been talking recently about sales, and we’re going to be getting to your five steps, the ABCDE. It’s good to have you here, good to see you, my friend.

Wes Schaeffer: Thanks for having me, I think I’m going to go apply for one of those Cox sales jobs, you got me distracted now.

Fred Diamond: It’s a great place to work. Cox Business and Cox Media have both been sponsoring the webinars and the podcast, a lot of people have been interested in taking a look at what they’re doing. What are you up to right now? What are you focused on? Then whenever you’re ready, we’ll get to ABCDE.

Wes Schaeffer: I’ve been in sales nonstop since I got out of the air force in 1997, spent a lot of time in high tech. Actually, Cox was a client of mine, I sold test and measurement equipment for data networks, fiber optics and copper, all that fun stuff, Google was a client. Spent a lot of time at technology, started The Sales Whisperer, bought the domain name in 2006 and I trademarked it, going on 15 years now of helping small and medium businesses sell mo’ better, just keep it simple, we just want to sell more, faster, at a higher margin with less stress and actually have fun doing it.

Fred Diamond: We’re doing today’s show on a Friday and as our regular listeners know, Friday is the Creativity in Sales webinar. We do webinars before the show converts to a Sales Game Changers podcast and every Friday we talk about techniques, tactics, strategies, implementable things that you could do as a sales professional to take your sales career to the next level.

The first thing that we got to know about you was your ABCDE methodology and we want to get deep into that today. People who listen to our show on Friday and who download the podcast, they want to take their sales career to the next level, they’re looking for an idea, they’re looking for some ways to connect with prospects more effectively and we’ll get to that.

Wes Schaeffer: Being in sales for so long and being in technology, I’ve had a lot of layoffs, a lot of reorganizations, companies going bankrupt, but they were always pounding the same thing and I see it still today in my clients. It’s either fill the funnel or fill your pipeline, throw enough stuff against the wall, something’s bound to stick. The problem with those concepts is that they are unidirectional, it’s a one-way street. Pack these people in, hope you get the right timing, go ahead and beg a little bit, go ahead and sharpen your pencil, go ahead and give them your best and final and it’s all one direction.

You remember learning about the water cycle in probably like seventh or sixth grade? It snows on the mountains and it melts and turns into a stream and it enters the lakes, it goes to the big rivers, it goes to the ocean, evaporates, becomes a cloud and snows again. The water is always cycling through, and so it dawned on me that great sales organizations, great salespeople understand that having the customer give you an order is not the end goal.

It’s like getting married, I’ve been married 25 and a half years. The day we said I do is when the relationship really and truly began. I was engaged one other time and my dad thought it was a mistake and he was right [laughs]. I got engaged, he said, “Listen, you’re not married until you’re married.” He was right, we get engaged to take it to the next level to see.

In the same way in sales, too many people think that they get the order and then they’re often running and banging on doors trying to get that next customer. They forget the next two steps which are probably the most important. I want people to visualize this right now, instead of a left to right funnel or a left to right pipeline or a top-down funnel, think of a circle, a clock and draw ABCDE around it. You could put A at the 12 o’clock and B at 2 o’clock and all the way around and draw an arrow going around clockwise.

The very first thing you must do is Attract, you have to attract people to your website. Eventually we’ll be doing trade shows again, you’ve got to attract them to your trade show booth, you’ve got to attract them to your LinkedIn profile, you’ve got to attract them to your landing page. But it’s not enough to have somebody just visit, so what are you giving them that is attractive enough that they will give you their contact information?

I had a family-owned Mexican food restaurant, it was fast food, four locations here in Southern California and they had nothing like that. I said, “At least do like a birthday burrito.” At least now when people came in, they signed up for their breakfast burrito. Now they could market to them, “Hey, it’s March Madness, order a tray of tacos.” Now they have a reason to stay in touch.

What are you doing to Attract people to you and it’s enticing enough that they give over their information so now you can B, Bond with them? And this bonding has to be multimedia, multistep. I think we got lazy over the last 10 or 15 years relying too much on email, it’s very easy to opt out of email, it’s very easy for a mail to get filtered, it goes into your junk mail, it goes into your promotions tab, they just ignore it. We all get so many emails, even the emails we want to see we’re missing because we’re just bombarded.

When somebody opts in, what are you doing to ensure you get more contact information from them? Here’s the dichotomy here, the more information you ask from a lead, the better qualified they are, at least those that fill it out. But the problem is few people will actually fill out a very detailed contact us form. I like to start with just first name and email.

Let’s say I’m giving away a free report, first thing, the email is all I need, the report is yours. Most people leave the thank you page, it’s wasted space for most companies. When I take you to a thank you page, it’s got a little bit of an upsell and it’s usually still free. “How would you like my bonus sales training flashcards? I’ll give you the digital version right away, it sells for $19.97 on my website, it’ll be yours free right now. Just fill out this information.”

Now I get their last name, their mobile number, maybe their company name. It depends on what I want to know about them, size of the company, what CRM do you use? I do a lot of work with CRMs. So I get a little bit more info. You ever notice when you go to the grocery store and you’re standing in line and you’ve got that column, you’ve got to run the gauntlet, I call it the gauntlet. I have seven kids so when you’re trying to take seven kids to the grocery store and there’s all this candy and magazines and sodas all at eye-level, they’re all at about three to four feet high. Why is that? Because it’s the kids’ eye-level.

The grocery stores know that, you haven’t given them your money yet, but you’ve already bought. You filled your cart up, your wallet’s in your hand, your credit card’s in your hand so they upsell you with gum and soda and water and Cosmopolitan and whatever else and that’s all margin. So when somebody opts in, they’re hot so take them to that next level to get more information so you can bond with them. Multimedia, multistep, call these people, email them, connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, engage with them.

If you do all of that correctly – and it may take a little bit of time, that’s fine – then you get the Conversion. Typical marketers call a conversion taking an anonymous visitor to a lead, I think the true conversion is when they give you their money but to avoid confusion, you can call the C the cash, the customer, the client. I don’t like to call it the close, I think that is a cold or negative connotation because the idea is that they don’t want to buy and you’re strong-willed and coercive and manipulative and you get their money. I’d rather open a relationship. Did you close your spouse when you said I do or did you open that relationship? The relationship was converted to a deeper meaning.

Now if you notice, ABCDE, five steps. The customer, the cash is only the halfway point. Again, this is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. The amateurs think they’re done, ABC, I got the money, I’m out of here, I’m going to the next one. The problem is people get cold feet, they cancel their POs, they file a chargeback, they get online and start lighting you up negative reviews. Just like baseball, they say swing through contact, golf, swing through contact, karate, boxing, whatever. Hit, strike through the opponent, you’ve got to have that momentum.

Once you get the money, you now move to the D stage, you Delight, you Deliver a wow experience, it doesn’t have to be crazy. A technology company I work for, one of our sister companies was a headset manufacturer, they ended up buying Jabra later on. They included a Tootsie Roll in every order, with your shipment there’s a Tootsie Roll and they figured out it had to be a Tootsie Roll because they would put chocolate in there and they found out it melted and now you’ve got chocolate all over your headset. Tootsie Rolls don’t really melt.

But it’s just something simple, I’m not saying you give everybody an iPad with every donut order, but how can you over-deliver? Create that wow experience. When you Delight, now you Endear yourself to them, now you get the five-star reviews, now you get the testimonials, now you get the referrals and now you get the repeat orders. Apple’s one of the greatest at this, they don’t want to sell you one thing, they want to sell you everything.

Instead of thinking, “How can I make this sale?” think about, “How do I conduct myself to make five sales to this one customer?” If you think through that, ABCDE, you go through the Endear, now you’re back to the Attraction phase. If I’m online singing your praises and my sphere of influence says, “Well, I know, like, and trust Wes. If he says this car is good, this restaurant is good, this business technology is good, if he recommends this webinar, okay, I’ll check it out.” I’m now attracting qualified leads to you.

When I share a webinar, Creativity in Sales, my wife, my mom, my dad, they’re not clicking on that, they’re not in that market. Targeted relevant semi-qualified people are going to click on what I recommend, so now I’m attracting them to you. You can only make more money in one of a couple ways, sell at a higher price or sell more faster, shorten your sale cycles.

If you’ve done all this right, ABCDE, you’ve Endeared yourself, they’re Attracting people to you, it’s essentially a free lead. The margin is higher for that customer, the sale cycle is also shortened and because they trust you and they came from a trusted source, they’ll probably buy more.  You have lower cost of acquisition, shorter sale cycle and they buy more all because you thought all the way through it.

Fred Diamond: Wes, that’s the ABCDE and that’s great. Let’s get some specifics in the various sections, I see underneath Bond you have follow-up and again, a lot of the people who listen to the Sales Game Changers podcast are either junior in their professional sales career or a lot of them are 10, 15, 20 years in. One of the trends that we see a lot is that follow-up is remiss, and sales leaders complain to me that their people don’t follow up for the next step.

We had a guest yesterday on the Optimal Sales Mindset webinar where we talked about the stat where it may take 15 to 20 connects before someone becomes a customer, yet salespeople a lot of times drop off after the third outreach sometimes. Give us some of your thoughts, Wes, on follow-up and give us some specific ideas to get people to understand why it’s so critical and what’s some of the things they could be doing to ensure that they get around the circle here with follow-up?

Wes Schaeffer: Salespeople have always struggled with follow-up and it might be a little tougher now to stand out. It may be tougher because there are so many ways of communicating, we’re inundated with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn Live and whatever. LinkedIn even has, what do they call them now? Some kind of stories, Twitter has Fleets, there’s stuff everywhere.

The #1 sin of marketing is being boring and when you’re in sales and you’re making a call and you’re out doing your outreach, it’s a form of marketing, you’re marketing yourself, you’re trying to convince that prospect to not only open but read and respond to your email. You want them to answer the call or at least listen to your voicemail and call you back or email you or register for a webinar.

Most businesses are just boring, and I tell everybody, look at what your prospects do and do the opposite. Far too often we’re just doing cookie-cutter stuff, we see such-and-such doing, “Well, they’re doing it so I’ll do it.” No, that’s the exact reason you should do the opposite of what they’re doing. Have some fun with it.

Like you, I have a podcast, I just published my 494th episode. I get pitched five, ten times a day for people to come on my show and more than half the time, probably 70% or 80% of the time it’s a mail merge and they don’t even say my name so it’s a totally cold outreach, not personalized. Give me a break, take 30 seconds to look me up and personalize it, March Madness is going on.

I got a great email yesterday actually, this sales rep, it was basically let’s make a bet and she picked some game coming up. I’m not even following it, it was like, Villanova versus such-and-such, if they win, I’ll give you $20. If the other team wins, you take a 15-minute call from me. I was like okay, I’m not that interested in the software and I’m not following the games but that’s a cool approach.

Fred Diamond: I got that same exact email so I think it might have been from Sales Hacker. It’s interesting, sounded like a different idea but obviously they’re using a database search, I got literally the same exact email. I got a question here, Wes, it’s coming in from James and James says, “I see that Wes is an expert on CRM, what are his thoughts on how we can optimize our CRM?”

You also have a couple of domain expertise, things that you do with CRM, you have a couple of websites and you’re one of the experts out there on CRM. James is actually a first-level sales manager for a tech company. My question for you is since that’s also an area of your domain expertise, give us a few thoughts on how sales managers can ensure that they get the optimal value out of CRM. It’s a common refrain that sales reps just don’t like to use it, so I’m curious on your thoughts.

Wes Schaeffer: The problem is businesses typically use a CRM as a big brother bludgeoning tool for their salespeople. We always have to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” So that salesperson is saying, “What is in it for me to use this?” “Fill it out or you’ll get fired.” That’s like saying the beatings will continue till morale improves.

How can you streamline this for your salespeople to make it easier for them? Because the bigger the company, the more important it is to have an accurate database. You’re probably tying that into operations maybe into a larger ERP and you need it for product acquisition, it impacts the cost of goods sold, it impacts deliverability, on and on.

There’s a need, but how can you make it easier for the salespeople to use it? What’s in it for them? I made a blog post years ago and I said the CRM is dead, and if you ever want to ruffle some feathers just say something is dead. SEO, cold calling, email webinars, whatever, “Trade shows are dead”, draw a line in the sand.

I pointed to Salesforce buying ExactTarget who had already bought Pardot. The stand-alone CRM is dead. Now, Salesforce recognized they needed some outreach capability, so they added ExactTarget, but ExactTarget already had Pardot, Pardot has marketing automation and even workflow automation.

The only reason you get information is to leverage it. If I obtain a list of a thousand CFOs and just attended a conference, that doesn’t do me any good unless I know what they’re interested in. Was it a healthcare conference? Was it an IT related conference? Now what can I offer them? Do they want a free report? Do they want a case study? Will they really attend a webinar? Probably not.

How do I entice them? How do I Attract them, how do I Bond with them to have a conversation? What are you doing with your CRM? What menial, tedious tasks can you automate for your salespeople so they can stay more productive doing what they want to do which is connecting, bonding, making sales? What are you doing as that manager to supercharge that CRM to just take care of the simple mundane things?

You do that, you show your salespeople you care about them, that you’re there to remove obstacles, they’re going to love you, they’re going to work hard for you, they’ll follow your guidance and you’ll all make more money.

Fred Diamond: We have another question here that comes in from Marty, and Marty is in the Philadelphia area. Marty wants to talk about referrals and he just says, “I just want to talk about referrals” [laughs]. Let’s talk about referrals for a second or two, I had a great example this morning and sometimes people wrestle with referrals.

The Institute for Excellence in Sales, the organization that I run, we have an event coming up in June and I’m looking for some sponsors, so I reached out to someone who I know and I was very specific. “I’m looking for some sponsors that want to recognize this particular person.” It’s going to be our Lifetime Achievement recipient, her name is Toni Townes-Whitley, she’s the President of Microsoft’s Regulated Industries. I said, “I’m looking for sponsors specifically for this event, people who would want to recognize her and pay tribute to her.”

I reached out to one particular person and he replied back with three names right away and their phone numbers and he said, “Call them now and tell them that I recommended you reach out to them.” I thanked them and he wrote back and said, “You were very specific in your request.” That’s something that I think, Wes, people lose sight on. A lot of times they’re hoping for referrals, they’re waiting for referrals.

I found you’ve got to be not just, “I want to meet CEOs.” Sure, everybody does, or in my case, I want to meet VPs of Sales who can become members of the IES. But the more focused and specific you can get to help that person unless they’re your spouse, they’re interested in your success but they’re probably not all that committed. What’s your advice? You mentioned referrals, give us one or two specific ideas and tips on how people here can get more value out of the referral process.

Wes Schaeffer: Yours was excellent. We’re too generic typically, “Hey, Fred, do you know anybody who needs a CRM?” You don’t know an anybody so once again, go through the ABCs. Do you know anybody that an architect? Do you know any accountants that struggle with keeping things together? Do you know any bankers? Do you know any chiropractors? Do you know any dentists? You can go through the ABCs again.

When you begin the relationship, you’ve got to get this out in the open upfront. Say, “Fred, thanks for giving me the time, I’m here to earn your business. As we go through this, if you find that this is valuable, if you find that I’ve conducted myself in a professional manner and I have helped you, once this is all done, deployed and installed and you’re happy with it, would you have any problems with giving me a referral and a testimonial?” If you ask for it upfront before there’s anything going on, you’re going to say, “Yeah, if all of this goes well, I don’t have any problem with that.”

Let’s say it’s a one-month process, six-month process, now it’s all installed. “Hey, Fred, how’s it going? How’s the installment?” “It’s fabulous.” “How’s the ROI?” “It’s better than what I even thought.” “Fantastic. Remember when we got this started I’d asked you if everything went well, would you ever provide a referral and testimonial?” “Yeah, I remember that.” “Would now be a good time? You’re the CIO at a hospital, do you interact with other CIOs? Do you have others in the city or in the region that are struggling with the same thing that you were struggling with that could benefit from working with me?”

Ask that upfront because it puts them on notice, but it puts you on notice, it makes you have to perform to earn those referrals and testimonials down the road.

Fred Diamond: We’re getting a lot of nice comments here. Jessie says, “Thank you so much.” Martin who asked the question before says thank you, Julianna says, “This was great, thank you, Wes.” Wes, before I ask you for your final action step I just want to hit on one thing that I think is the common theme of what you’re talking about here, and that’s the whole notion on sales differentiation.

We had a guest about a year ago, his name is Lee Salz and he wrote a book called Sales Differentiation and it’s not market differentiation, is not how does your company differentiate itself in the market. It’s the fact that, like you said before, a lot of sales professionals sometimes seem like commodities to our prospects and our customers. Salespeople don’t necessarily realize that.

A lot of the companies that your customers are dealing with kind of look the same, they don’t know your nuance, they don’t really know your history, they don’t really even care a whole lot. They care about, “How are you going to help me solve my problems, small, big or medium?” It’s incumbent upon the sales professional to figure out, “How am I going to differentiate myself?” Nelson says, “Right on” to this.

Before I ask you for your final action step, just wrap up with that notion because you brought it up, Wes Schaeffer, The Sales Whisperer, throughout today’s chat, about the fact that you, sales professional, need to differentiate yourself so that you’re not a commodity in the marketplace.

Wes Schaeffer: I always say you prove you’re different by being different. It sounds funny, it sounds obvious but every interaction with you must be different. I see salespeople all the time say, “I’m great once I get in front of a qualified prospect.” Your job is to get in front of that qualified prospect.

I say to make any sale, you must make every sale. Let’s say your goal is to get married, that’s the sale. You’re going to a night club, before you go, you better shower, put on deodorant, drop your clothes off the dry cleaners three days early. When you show up, chew some gum so your breath doesn’t stink. Each of those are little sales.

How do you sound on your voice mail? What does your email look like? What’s your email signature? What’s your social media profile? When you do speak with them, do you show up on time? Are you early, are you prepared? We’re sizing one another up at every interaction in literally fractions of a second, we can tell by the tonality, the volume, the pace on your voice mail, how you look on your Zoom video. All of those things say something about you and that prospect is trying to decide, “Does this person add value to my life or are they a waste of my time?”

Fred Diamond: Your point just a few moments ago was right on target. Everything is not “the sale”, there’s so many little sales that need to continue through the process to keep you moving forward, to keep getting to the next place. A lot of the people here who are watching today’s webinar and listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast sell complex solutions.

Obviously, because of the pandemic over the last year, a lot of buying was pushed off as companies tried to figure out where they were and to rebound. If you’re in sales, it’s not “the sale”, it’s a continuation of being a sales professional and implementing a lot of what Wes Schaeffer talked about today. Wes Schaeffer, The Sales Whisperer, I want to thank you.

First off, I want to congratulate you on your success, close to 500 of The Sales Podcast. We’re up to #343 so we’ll get there soon, but you’ve touched so many companies. I want to thank you also for your service prior to moving into what you’ve been doing as a sales consultant, and I want to thank Cox Business for being a sponsor of today’s webinar.

Wes, send us home here. Give us one final action step, you’ve given us so many tips, 30 tips, I was keeping count. Give us one specific action step people must do right now as they leave the webinar or as they turn off the podcast.

Wes Schaeffer: This is kind of hard, but if you do it, it’ll make all the difference. I tell everybody to detach, detach from the outcome. Make sure you’re taking the right steps, chunk your time down to 15-minute increments, make sure every 15 minutes you’re doing the right thing. I tell everyone, look at what you do two or three times a day or four or five times a week and have a process for it. If you can, automate it.

Use your CRM, there’s tools like Zapier or PieSync or If This Then That. Some businesses may limit your ability to use those kind of tools so figure out what you can do on your own, maybe go get permission. I made friends with the IT guys at one of my first companies, it was a small company before we even had Blackberries. Blackberries were out, but not at my company.

I bought my own Blackberry and I had them BCC all of my emails to my Verizon email address so at least I could get emails on the road. Now I’m responding to leads two hours, four hours, sometimes an entire day before my competition who didn’t have that stuff. Figure out what you do repeatedly, and at minimum, make sure it’s documented and then automate it if you can.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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