One of the most common reasons why sales reps fail to succeed is due to the way they approach
their prospects. A small change in messaging could do wonders in this regard!
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl welcomes Rockstar sales consultant and messaging
expert Jim Karrh to discuss how you may be getting this concept backward. Listen now and learn how to get the messaging pattern right, polish the art of selling conversations, as well as ensuring your messaging is relevant, clear, and on point. They also delve into the way your prospects’ minds work and provide strategies to help you better approach them. Subscribe now and unlock the power of business conversations.
Darryl Praill: How's everybody doing today? Welcome to another episode of inside inside sales. Do I sound like I'm in a good mood? I am. I am in a good mood. It's weird. Why am I in a good mood? I honestly don't know why. I think what it was... So, we, here at VanillaSoft, a couple of weeks ago, our CEO, he kind of took the poll to the company, talked to everybody, which is what you should do. Right? I know we as sales reps often feel like we're alone. I don't know. Maybe you don't, I often do. It's like we're front- facing, we're out there where we get the heat of battle. We're the ones rushing the opposite line, trying to get that revenue, that next deal, where everybody says," It's cozy and comfortable back in their offices, you know, and they're doing a little coding. They're doing a little, you know, documentation writing and it's kind of comfortable." And we're out there getting rejected and hammered. That's what we think. That's what we feel and what you feel is right, by the way, just so we're clear, your feelings are real. I feel like Dr. Frasier Crane, I'm listening. But with that all set, he made a declaration. He said on this date on, I think it was Friday. April 30th, we're having a COVID holiday. The whole company is off and he paid everything. He just... It's off and go have a long weekend and just, recover from COVID. And it was crazy because I've had long weekends before, lots of lots and lots lots of times. You may have noticed I have white hair. I've had many long weekends. Yet, I woke up Friday morning and I woke up and I'm like," I don't have to go into work today." And it was like, this weight, this burden lifted off of me. And ever since then, I've been feeling really good. I even called him up the other day and I said," It sounds stupid, but that one ass day that you gave us just really changed my whole psyche." It's amazing how... When you change stuff up, it can totally have a dramatic impact on your outlook and on your outcomes. I remember back when I was in school and I had met my wife, in fact, true story here, and I talked about it about my wife before. I may inaudible about when we were dating. I don't remember meeting her. Isn't that brutal? I do not remember meeting my wife but she tells the story and in my mind I've got it all mapped out and it's totally something I would do. And what it was, was I was running for student union president and it was the first day of canvassing. And I'd put all these posters and stickers everywhere because this is pre- internet day kids, all right? So everything was done in hard copy. And I put all these stickers in all these tables and we were sitting down, my campaign manager and I. We're sitting down in the... What we used to colloquially called a meat market, which is where you would sit in the outdoor patios and stuff and look at everybody else walk by. A bit of a meat market, you get the idea. And I had stickers in all these tables. Anyway, I'm at one table and an adjacent table beside me is a whole bunch of people, of which one of those people was a classmate of mine in one of my classes. And this attractive young woman walks up, happens to know him and a few other people at the table, stops and shoots the breeze with them, sees my sticker on the table has nervous energy. She was really... Always to the state of nervous energy, and she starts peeling it away. And so my colleague waits and my classmate waits until she's done and then he turns to me says," Daryl, look what she's done to your campaign." And I'm like," What the hell? I'm trying to get elected here. Like you have to vote for me now." She said," Oh, I'm so sorry." She was embarrassed. And I gave her another sticker to put on her clothing that she had to wear to promote me around campus and she promised me she would. Cut into the end, she never voted at all. She didn't even vote for me. And you want to complete this story? I asked you on... You talk about Florida elections, I won by seven votes and I'm not making that up. And that was what the recounts. So despite her, I won and eventually I kind of became aware of her because remarkably, she kept on appearing in front of me. So what did I learn in this whole process of wooing and courting her? Plus that I was somewhat getting my messaging backwards. I was trying convince her that I was a nice guy. I was a great guy. This guy she would want to date. Problem was she was already dating somebody. And it wasn't until I kind of took a different tack of pointing out... How do I phrase this? Opportunistically. Some of the shortcomings of the dude that she was dating, that she started to realize that maybe now it's a good time to consider her options and make a change. Especially when this awesome piece of meat was dangling in front of her. How's that for color? So I had to totally change my tack to woo this fine woman. But of course I was stupid for the first several days, weeks prior to that, having not much luck. I'm slow, kids. And you haven't figured that out yet. See, that's the thing. Often in sales, it's how we approach our prospect. That's causing us to not succeed, not unlike me. So what's the problem? The problem is, it's your messaging. It's the like me when I was talking and when I was trying to court my wife. It was my messaging. It was how it resonated with her, how I approached it. It was... Everything was messed up. So then I said," Who? Who my friend should I talk to? To talk about this very situation that I see every single day?" And that that is Jim Karrh. He is the author of the Science of Customer Connections. He is a consultant and professional speakers with Karrh& Associates. He is the king of messaging. He is the host of Manage Your Message Podcasts. And most relevant in the near term, you can watch him at the OutBound Conference when he talks about putting together a sales messaging playbook. And I'm just going to say that that rocks, kicks ass, and achieves the results you want. Now he doesn't say that in his marketing, he's a little more subtle. He's probably Canadian. So there we go, Jim, how are you doing my friend?
Jim Karrh: I am doing well, Daryl. And I'm just processing your, your sales campaign with your soon- to- be bride back in the day. And thinking, you did at least a couple of things really well. First of all, you are trying to establish competitive differentiation right away. I said" That was good." But you managed to build awareness early by affixing your name onto your prospect's clothing. If I get the story right. I don't know if that's something that most of your listeners and viewers are able to do, especially in a more virtual world these days, but that's a pretty good tool.
Darryl Praill: Well, it's funny you bring that up because in many regards, they are. Think about it, whether it's applications, I'm thinking of like Sendoso or Alice or PDF or whatever. It's PDF, I think it's PDF. There's a whole bunch out there where I can actually send a tchotchke to my prospects or my customers. And of course, what is that tchotchke? It could be a piece of apparel, a hat, a coffee mug, whatever and it's always branded. So in fact, the modern day version of using tchotchkes and giveaways to actually have your prospects and customers promote your brand is... I mean, I was a trendsetter. I was a trendsetter, Jim. That's what we're getting [ inaudible 00:08:40].
Jim Karrh: You were... Yeah. You had something that was even better than Vote for Pedro, from Napoleon Dynamite.
Darryl Praill: Hey, you cannot dismiss Vote for Pedro. That is epic. All right. Now you're at outbound... For those who don't know Jim, he is crazy good. Just go to Jim Karrh and I'm going to... It's J- I- M, all right? It's pretty straight forward. Karrh. K- A- R- R- H dot com. Feel free to multitask, Dynamite guy. Please go follow him on LinkedIn. You won't regret it. Because he's just this wealth of fountain of nonstop messaging content. In fact, I was recently hanging out with Jim and Darrell Amy on this killer event that they did online, virtual was all week about getting sales and marketing alignment. And again, even on that, that's all about messaging in. And for those who are wondering, if you know Darrell Amy and you know Jim, we can all agree, right? Jim is just way better than Amy. Just so we're clear on that. Now...
Jim Karrh: Yes. And we'll say that because I know Darrell will be listening or viewing at some point here, and we'll just state that for the record.
Darryl Praill: Yeah. It's public record. Now, you and I were talking before the show about what do we want to cover, right? And we were brainstorming back and forth and this is... I'm going put down, this is the exchange, folks, that Jimmy and I had. One thing, he goes," We always talk about how to align sales messaging with customer's decision- making and where sales teams tend to get it backwards." And when I read that, boom, I got it. But then the second part of me was like," Oh. Yes. Sales teams do get this backwards." Hence, my story. But Jim, can you set the stage because we've never covered this topic. And I've had this conversation with so many reps where they think their messaging and their approach is fire. They just think they've got it, the rock stars, and they don't want to hear how they're getting it backwards. So, let's kind of pull the bandaid off, let's kind of look at the wound, tell us what you mean by that.
Jim Karrh: And there's some possibility Darryl, that that person that says," Ours is perfect." Perhaps they're right. But that would be countered in my typical experience. I find what even... And in fact, especially experienced, knowledgeable, passionate reps who are so anxious to share their message and talk about their stuff. They are oftentimes the most chronic, get it backwardsy folks. and we have to push against our industry. We have to push against our very brains and the light bulb would tell you the overall pattern, and then we can break it down a bit. And if you can get this pattern right, you'll be much more than just 1% better. You'll be a lot better. So, when I think about messaging at that level, I'm thinking about actual selling conversations, not your mission statement or vision statement or tagline or whatever you actually say, and show, and do, and ask, and answer in customer or prospect conversations. So, what we want to do is make sure that our messaging is relevant and it's clear, and it's on point whatever the stage of decision- making for that customer or prospect is. Here's the main thing to keep in mind for what your message should be, most prospects, most customers who were thinking about maybe even doing more business with you... But you have to answer some questions for themselves. And they're either consciously aware of it, or they're not consciously aware of it. But I can tell you as a PhD, Darryl, and psychologist, and former CMO, as well as a consultant, they do it. There are three steps that they go through. And in this sequence, the first thing that they have to answer for themselves is why should I change what I'm doing today? Or at least consider change. As much as we all talk about change this, that, and the other, no one wants to change. It's risky, it's uncertain, it's uncomfortable. And so there's some status quo that that prospect has and they have to think through. Is it worth it? Is it worth the pain and the uncertainty to even consider a change? The second thing that they will do is say," Okay, if it's worth considering change, why now? What's the sense of urgency? There are 25 great ideas. We have 10 different corporate initiatives. We have all sorts of things that are worth considering doing, but we can only concentrate or get budget for three or four or five things at a time. Why should your idea, your solution come to the top of that list?" And then finally, they would say," Okay, if it's worth considering change and if this is urgent, if this is a priority. Hey, Daryl, why you? Why VanillaSoft?" Why whomever? Versus either a named competitor, do it myself, whatever their options are for that choice. So why change? Why now? Why you? That's the process that prospects go through. Here's where the disconnect happens. A lot of sales professionals and selling organizations try to go in reverse because they're so passionate, because they're so knowledgeable about the why me part, about their stuff, and their value prop, and their passion, and all the information and run the demo. All of those sorts of things, they try to start with... Why me? And that tends to be unfulfilling, unprofitable, unsuccessful. They're trying to establish that differentiation before they made the case for change. And so," Okay. That doesn't work. So let me back up and I'll try to promote a sense of urgency." And oftentimes, that's rather artificial and contrived too." Oh, let's, rebundle it, let's cut the price. Let's run an end of quarter promotion, whatever it is, let's double down on it." And that tends to either not work or maybe you attract a new customer at a discount price and it's not even the right kind of customer. It doesn't really match your right in your ideal customer profile. And only then they'll go back to what should have been step one as making the case for change. And then they would go through all these things. Well, we have to educate the market, blah, blah, blah, and start over again. That's just trying to go uphill through the rear view mirror, it doesn't work for the most part. So if you can think about your messaging in terms of how you actually lead and serve through those individual selling conversations at different points along the way. So, there's their messaging that you would tailor to the why change piece, which you have to get right at the beginning. And then there's messaging that could work in the why now, promoting a sense of urgency. And then you can address the why us, the differentiation piece and getting past some of the specific objections that a prospect might have. So if you can just flip that order, that sequence, then you'll be ahead of the game.
Darryl Praill: So, let's have some fun with this. You tell me if I am guilty, by the way, the answer is I'm guilty of-
Jim Karrh: Darryl, don't worry about it. I've been guilty of this myself.
Darryl Praill: Oh yeah. Okay. So, here we go. I'm going to cold call Jim. And Jim, you don't have to answer. I'm going to do all the talking, Mistake 101.
Jim Karrh: Are you leaving a voicemail or am I going to answer it?
Darryl Praill: No. You're going to answer as if you said" Hello." And, and tell me... And I'm really doing this to dramatize what so many reps do. But I'll be a rep for VanillaSoft for the moment. So ring, ring, Jim answers, and I say," Hey, Jim, it's Darryl Praill here with VanillaSoft. VanillaSoft is the industry's most established, impactful sales engagement platform that can often triple your pipeline, increase your speed to lead, and dramatically affect your persistency in the pursuit of new business." Now, most people I talk to have a real issue hitting their numbers. Their pipeline is not sufficient, and they look out the only way to fix this is either more reps or more marketing span, and they don't have the resources to do that. And then they're stuck with a poor MQL to SQL conversion rate and then they're wondering why they're not hitting their numbers." I'm assuming this is you. Right, Jim?" And I'm going to stop there. Anybody relate to something like that?
Jim Karrh: You started to lose me about six words after VanillaSoft. I was trying to figure out," Do I know Darryl Praill?" Well, in real life, I would be very impressed that Darryl Praill called me. For purposes of this exercise, I'm... At that moment I'm trying to process this person's name, the company and all that. And I'm not really paying attention to what you do. And at the very end... And this is more of a small piece, kind of a personal thing, but I find that in practice, this people get ahead of themselves. They say," Does this describe you? Or we think that we work with people exactly like you." And my initial reaction, most human beings have a reaction of like a crosstalk"No one is exactly quite like me."
Darryl Praill: A visceral reaction. You don't even know me.
Jim Karrh: Right. I might be interested if you say if someone who runs a professional services firm or someone who has a particular role or something that you're seeing in a particular industry, that there are patterns. If you're really an expert, if you really know something about my kind of work or my situation, you can go in with a really good working hypothesis of the kinds of things that I might be challenged with and patterns that I'm seeing. And frankly, if you're a rep and you talk to a lot of people who are at least somewhat like me, we've used the quotes like me so by role, by persona, by business challenges, whatever that might be. It is slightly intriguing because you do talk to a lot of my peers or near peers and that is an intriguing thing. A lot of us want to know through social comparison. How do we stack up? What are you seeing from people that you think are like me? And then we can have a good conversation. But, no. Leading with the value prop, dumping too much information without coming up for air and telling someone who's a prospect that," I know exactly what you need right now." Are all prompting me to either tune you out or to actively be mad at you because you don't understand me. You haven't earned that right. To make that assumption, Darryl.
Darryl Praill: Yet, many people listening are like," I don't get what Darryl did right. He actually introduced himself. He talked about himself, so the listener had context." And this is what people are prepared to say to you. Then he created a sense of urgency around common issues people have and then he did some education around a benefit statement. You you can do this and this is something you suffer with. So now, you're able to go and start the actual process qualification. I've hooked him. And I've heard you say this before, that's comfortable for me to lead that way, what I just did in my dramatization. Because I'm really comfortable as a sales rep talking about me or what I hock or who I work for, I know that topic inside and out. And if I talk long enough, something I say may hopefully convince you, may resonate with you, and convince you to not hang up or yell at me or reject me. And you may say," Well, tell me more about this element where you say you can increase the conversion from MQL to SQL or speed to lead or persistency." So, all of this is literally, if I'm right, everything you say we sales reps do... And I probably did that completely backwards because I heard you said why change, why now, and why you? Those are the three things. So, assuming that you're right and assuming that I totally botched that in that scenario, how, following your approach, should I have approached that cold call?
Jim Karrh: I can't tell you the exact specifics because as they say, a prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. But I can say to him what you went through and what we just talked about that. There were a few things that as guidelines, understanding buyer psychology, and understanding brain science that I think might help your listeners and viewers a lot. So, one of the things that you just noted and if I skip past anything, pull me back Daryl, but one of the things you were saying was if I talk long enough, right? Then that at some point there's going to be some hot button topic. There's going to be some word that might resonate. Okay. That's not characteristic of a good conversation. One thing that we know from research from business conversations, and this is all the way from selling conversations to job interviews, is that people view it as a healthier conversation. And it's roughly 50/ 50 in terms of who's talking and who's listening. And it's also the case that people in general say that someone is a brilliant conversationalist if they listen to me. We find it in a conversation, if I'm the one doing, wound up doing most of the talking and then they asked me later," How's Daryl as a communicator? He's terrific. He's wonderful." He was just listening. So, the fact that volume of words and dominance of the conversation is not your goal, right? So what you're really trying to do is elicit some feedback and do some good early stage discovery and position yourself as someone who might be able to solve those problems. But you got to use the language of your prospect more so than the language of what you know. To make another movie reference Darryl and everyone, if you remember the movie Good Will Hunting, there was the Matt Damon character, and there was the Robin Williams character was his therapist and they were unpacking all sorts of psychological trauma that he had had. And he was repeating in the session," It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault." And to some degree, if we fall into these patterns, Darryl, it's not quite our fault. There are a couple of things that drag us down out of what's really good messaging behavior. The first is our brains. Our brains are wonderful creations. We're only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding them. But one thing we do know is our brains are wired for comfort and pleasure. And in doing some background research for my book that you mentioned, I discovered that the parts of our brains that get activated when we talk about ourselves are the same parts of our brains to get activated when we have a great meal or take psychedelic drugs or think about sex. It makes us happy. We get a little chemical shot when we talk about ourselves, our passion, our product, our history, our backstory, whatever it is. So that's our default. We have to, as individuals and as teams, then we have to plan against that. We have to get against that drag. The other thing that we have to guard against is our industry and just past habits which tend to be too techie, oftentimes too many acronyms, too much insider language, not the language of our buyer or our prospect. And so again, there's a discipline around messaging of not only connecting of where that prospect is in their decision- making process, but also letting them talk, prompting them, finding out what is unique about their situation and using language that isn't ours and not trying to dominate that conversation. I know a lot of things that that are in here, but if you just think about what would make a good professional conversation and then start reverse engineering that process.
Darryl Praill: So we've just scratched the surface here, folks. Obviously, there's a lot of stuff here, right? So a couple takeaways, you know me, I'm all about learning is earning. I cannot say it enough, you get tired of hearing it. Truly, go to Amazon, I'm going to say Amazon, maybe your bookstore has it. Check out the book, The Science of Customer Connections. Second thing I would do... Because this is what we're talking about, right? How to connect. That's literally what the messaging is all about. Second thing, go to your podcast player and do the search for Manage Your Message Podcasts, because these are skills that just don't help you in sales. These are skills that help you in life, career, relationships, everything else. These are inherent skills that you need to develop on your own, constantly develop. This is a good thing. This is a competitive edge, competitive advantage. So check the Manage Your Message Podcast. Now I do want to talk though and say there's a third option here for you. You can do option A and option B, that's fine. But option C is something I already want you to consider. And that is invest in yourself, invest in Jim Karrh by signing up for the OutBound Conference. So the OutBound Conference, if you're not aware, it's taken place... There's two ways you can do this online, of course, or in person. Whoa. Remember those days? Online is June 13th to 18th. So you got up about a month or so before it kicks in. But in person, June 15th, the 18th at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, I'm going to be there. That's the plan. I have been inoculated. I had been vaccinated. So, and I'm coming from Canada so I have to cross a border on everything. It's a big deal for me to cross that border. And it's even a bigger deal to come back across that border but that's another story. But why am I doing that? Because this is the conference to be at where people like Jim and so many other experts, sales experts are at now. Jim, talk to me about your track, what you will be talking about there.
Jim Karrh: Well, what I am going to be talking about, the title is What Works for Your Sales Messaging Playbook. And the playbook is simply an approach. What I find is that both for individual reps and if you're looking across a team. So, if you have BDRs, SDRs, reps, other people, they are all trying to get something that's consistent and effective working together, that you need some single source of conversational truth. In the absence of that in something that's actually planned and documented and bringing people together. Well, what happens? Well, everyone kind of does their own thing. It's very tribal people fall back into their familiar patterns. The way that I tell a story, the questions that I ask, the stories that I share, and that doesn't tend to work very well. So we get all this, the disconnect. There's the sales marketing disconnect, of course, but we have disconnects among reps in the same team or across territories or people who have different roles at different parts of the selling cycle in the process. So, a number of selling organizations and teams and companies will adopt a approach they call a playbook most commonly. But they may call it a guide. I had a client call it a recipe book and basically saying," Hey, what if I had some dinner guests coming in at the last minute? What am I going to do?" I'm going to see what's in the freezer. What's in the spice rack. What's in the refrigerator. Find out if there are any food allergies or sensitivities, what people want and I'll take what I have. And I will tailor that meal, in this case would be that conversation to particular priority conversations that we need to have. So what I'm going to talk about in my track is playbooks. Basically some organizing framework for you to align your message with the things that you have to offer, where you stand out and importantly, what prospects want and need and how you can be relevant and clear and consistent in those customer conversations all along the track. So we'll talk a little bit about what a playbook is and is not, what problems you can solve and cannot solve with a playbook, and then if you decide to go with that approach as a team, what goes in it, how to build it and how to use it. But overall, the point is about again, messaging. Darryl,. One of the things that I've found in the course of working on these kinds of projects and doing advisory work and speaking is that there's such a big opportunity here. It's common that really good reps offering high value services are far more confident in the value of what they sell than in how to talk about it, and that's criminal. It takes away your commissions, your livelihood, your reputation, it takes away even the way that you think about yourself and what you do. There's no reason that we can't be as confident in how to talk about what we sell as in what we sell. And so we'll be talking about some ways in OutBound to be able to do that for yourself and across the team.
Darryl Praill: That's outboundconference. com., check Jim Karrh out there. In the meantime, please work on your messaging, don't do what Darryl does. That's just stupid. Speaking of Darryl, he's out of here as he talks about himself in the third person, but he hopes you had a fantastic time. Thank you so much, Jim. And for you folks, I'll see you back here again next week. Take care. We'll talk to you soon. Bye- bye.