Marketing and sales aren’t on different sides of the spectrum – they’re two sides of the same coin. But, do you know how to keep them aligned?
In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl is joined by the brilliant sales leader, marketer, and Director at EQ Sales, Laura-Jade Harries, to discuss why sucking at sales communication is like a kiss of death for your closing rate. Darryl and LJ also cover the difference between sales and marketing, as well as the importance of truly understanding marketing.
Darryl Praill: How's everybody doing today? I am doing dandy, thanks for asking. Not that you did ask, but I know if you were in front of me, you would ask, because we all fall back into these standard salutations and greetings, don't we? Hey, how you doing? G- day, mate. What's up, what's happening? How are you feeling these days? How are you keeping? Are you busy? Every single time you meet somebody, it's like an etiquette. I'm always reminded of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and I know not everybody's a fan of Big Bang, but Sheldon had a line, because as brilliant as he was, he was lacking certain social graces and he was always trying to figure out, what is the correct response in this social situation, because he didn't know. And he was looking at his friends and saying," Oh, am I supposed to say I'm sorry?, I'm supposed to give you a hug, I'm supposed to stand back. I just don't know, I'm confused. Oh, was that sarcasm? I didn't pick it up on it sarcasm. Let me guess, I don't know." That's the irony, we get into all these routines. And I kind of got thinking about that because we're hiring a boatload of people right now, as you might imagine, when I have people wanting to work for us, reaching out to me to work, they want to work either with me or with my team, or they want to sell our product. Baby space is hot, or they want to just be part of a cool, sass company whatever the reason is they start targeting you. So in some regards right now, I'm the buyer, but for our job and everybody's given me their pitch and I'm getting all these conversations. And it's always interesting because it always starts off with that awkward first beginning, the" Hi, how are you? And how are you feeling? These seeing okay? Life is good. Well, how's the weather?" And in the end of course we all know, we just have to get through this to get to the important part. But for someone like me, as much as I truly do value that, I'm looking at my calendar and I'm trying to squeeze you in and I'm trying to get into my next deliverable. Because I know my CEO is going to ping me on slack or my CFO is going to ping me in slack or I've got to prep for a demo coming up. And I get anxiety because I just don't have time, not that I don't want to, I don't have time. And I'm watching people try to pitch themselves to me, some picking up on my anxiety and my concern, some not. These people are all vying for a job, which got me thinking about vying for a job. When I remember when I applied to VanillaSoft and I've kind of so many job interviews life. And you seem to have just a few moments in time to talk about who you are and what your value prop is, right? Again, think about your job you have now. Who was it that you impress? Was it the head of HR? Was it the head of sales? How did it go down? How did you convey your value proposition as a prospective employee. Further when they go in the middle of the course of the interview process and they ask you those really hard questions because we all, I mean, you don't want to see, I got a list probably a hundred questions that I have that I can ask, I don't organize, but what is my objective? I want to know about your skills or I don't know about your ability to play as a team player, to own all your culture and where you fit. I got them all. And so we asked you these hard questions and some might view them as objections and because really, I'm challenging you, right?" How did you handle that conflict? You did what? What were you thinking?", but of course, I'm just putting you under pressure to see how your react, making you flustered, if you will. So, and I watch how you respond, I know how I responded and then it got to thinking, oh my gosh, everything happening here. When I wanted a job, when these people are trying to convince me to hire them, it's all about communication. We're making decisions upfront, do we have a second interview, do we have a second meeting, sales meeting? Based on how well we can communicate. So that's the thing, there's so many ways we communicate. We can communicate with our tone, you'll notice sometimes I talk really fast and then when I want to make a point, I slow rate down, it's almost like I'm being intentional and I go loud and I go quiet and I move my hands or I don't move my hands. So it's not just what you say, it's how you say it, it's how you're perceived, right? Communication. So I thought how many sales reps are doing everything right? They understand the sales process, they understand the activity, they understand the buyer, the ideal customer profile, the personas. They understand it all, but they're not having success because, like Sheldon, they kind of suck at communication. So we've got to fix that, right? So who to Griffin? Who are we going to bring that in? Who's the expert here? Well, I have got a delightful, charming, bold guest for you today. I want you to put your hands together and welcome my very good friend all the way from Australia. As we record this, she's currently 14 hours ahead of me in which is code for saying it's freaking early, early, early, early for her Laura- Jade Harries we call her LJ, she's with EQ Sales. LJ, how are you doing my friend?
Laura-Jade Harries: I am yawning and waking up to your amazing voice and it's better than an alarm clock, I'll tell you that.
Darryl Praill: I just want to know if you're yawning because of what I'm saying and that would be not the first time.
Laura-Jade Harries: No, no, no, of course not. Well, not in this instance, Darryl.
Darryl Praill: I love it. Before we get much further, I do want to stop and talk a little bit and everybody who's been watching the show knows the drill, you probably know where I'm going. If you think I'm going to talk about outbound conference, you're right. Laura- Jade, LJ, you're speaking at the conference, you're part of the whole Australian contingent. You run a crosstalk and the whole crew down there. Are you excited, this your first one?
Laura-Jade Harries: This is my first outbound and I have loved just being on the journey with it and to learn. We have very similar, but also very different markets as well. So to learn that from your side has just been exciting, so I'm excited to bring my down under thoughts to it as well. Bring it on, not long now.
Darryl Praill: Laura- Jade, LJ and I keep on getting... I have this default behavior, communication. They call you by your first name and so it's killing me to go to LJ, just want you to know that. LJ and I-
Laura-Jade Harries: We're colloquial.
Darryl Praill: I know you were and I get, and that's what we love about you and it's so annoying. You guys can go anywhere in the world and instantly people want to be your friends. I mean, communication is definitely not going to be a challenge for you, but we share a shared passion. LJ has got a ton of marketing experience and communication experience. In fact, one of your sessions I was looking at, and I laughed when I saw it. So I'm seeing at least two sessions here, but one of your sessions was Think like a marketer, Sell like a pro. Talk to me, LJ about that one.
Laura-Jade Harries: I feel like people see marketing and sales as other sides of the spectrum or church and state, and the thing is, it's really not. Marketing is just sales with better branding, both sort of tasked with engaging and enticing and ultimately influencing an audience. The only difference is, is that marketing do it on scale, sales do at one- to- one. Once you learn the behavioral science and the way to influence on mass, and then do that within your one- to- one relationship. Suddenly people want to buy from you because that's what marketers do they make people want to buy from you, sales is the push, right? So that's why I kind of say," Think like a marketer, sell like a pro." I was a marketer for 10 years before I was a sales person and a lot of what I learn in marketing, I didn't learn in sales and I was able to apply them. And it just really changed the way that I sold, because I was able to market myself and have inbound leads, which is to me the dream. Right? The dream.
Darryl Praill: So I agree with everything you're saying, a lot of sales person out there who disagree, and I will contend if you're one of those reps, it's simply because, if you disagree with what LJ just said, you're screaming to LJ and I and the others that you don't understand marketing. Now, I say that with love folks, but there's a lot of truth in that because LJ you're right. It's the whole communication thing, whether you're marketing or sales is the same. The audience could be different one- to- one versus one to many it's hence the ad scale aspect. But marketers have spent, hundreds of years turning that into a science, which gets us back to communication. So let's talk about sales and communication. LJ, what are sales reps doing wrong when it comes to communication and what should they instead be doing?
Laura-Jade Harries: The thing with communication, I mean, sales is really nothing more than a series of successful conversations. And as a sales person, we run on such these high octane, high speed with everything that we do, that we actually stopped to think about those individual conversations and really make use of the minutia within them, as a sales rep, every interaction that you have is one to influence. Darryl, I like what you said about, it's more than what you say, you're speaking is a performance in sales and I think we forget to see it like that. And that to me is the most exciting thing, because the way that you can communicate the way that you can announciate the pauses, they all add to how a message is received and listened to, and therefore acted on. And that's all we want in sales, we want to make those moments really powerful so that people walk away with exactly the action that you need from them. I think it's the most exciting thing in the world.
Darryl Praill: Let's start with some of the basics then, what are some of the common communication mistakes you see reps making?
Laura-Jade Harries: Don't use 15 words when you can use five. I think reps, we tend to always hear our monologue instead of dialogue. We've got to remember that this is not necessarily about what you have to say, it's about what has to be understood. So being able to communicate succinctly, clearly, and in a way that is understood, not so much matters in terms of what you say. We constantly want to say about this is the message I need to get across. We need to always think back in terms of the buyer's mindset and that's something we see a lot.
Darryl Praill: Okay, let's see, so there's a couple of things you've gone. I want to make sure we capture that, you talked about the buyer's mindset and you also talked about crisp, clear, concise. Those are two different things, let's just kind of focus there for a second. When I talk about... when I hear you say crisp, clear, concise, that says if taking a long time folks to get your message across, especially imagine a cold call, right? And they answered the phone, you're like," Oh shit, they answered the phone, I got to say something now." and you stumble, that says you don't clearly know what you want to say, you haven't put your mindset. Oh, I'm calling this persona, maybe a head of sales, or maybe a head of marketing, maybe head of development, who knows. And you're not clear on those first few communication lines you need to deliver to potentially either hook them or establish your value prop quickly, such that they give you permission to proceed and you've got to do that really fast. We talked about that and it could be within seven seconds, they determined if they trust you or not, within 12 seconds, they determine that they like you or not. So you don't have much time. So there's that first part, but you tied it back to the buyer's mindset. No, it is not, so you're going to tell us what to do there. But also, you bring it back to the buyer's mindset, which is, are you an interruption? Are you not an interruption? How does that buyer buy? Are they technical? Head of development, maybe technical, they will tell about features and functions, whatnot. If they're a financial person, maybe it's all about economic, that's how they buy, what's the ROI, et cetera. If you don't know this, you're going to suck and it's just because it's how you communicate. Back at that job interview, you're not communicating your value prop quickly. So LJ, what do we need to do to make sure we are crisp and concise with our message and how do we know what happens that should be telling us that we're clearly not?
Laura-Jade Harries: Hey, it's so true. Look, and there's actually a bit of science behind that as well. And as a sales person, you need to understand that being articulate actually drives credibility, it's called the fluency heuristic and it's kind of why advertising works. It's when a phrase or a message is delivered in a way that's really succinct. We actually value and therefore prioritize that message, so we believe it more, right? So as a sales person, not only do you want your message to be strong and clear, but you want it to be credible as well. So I like to use a practice called CVP, so it's like an NVP, right? But for your communication, it's a very simple way that you can structure a message. So C stands for claim, what's a claim I'm making? Then the V is the value, why should you care, what's the value in this for you? And then P is the proof point that comes after it. So I do this, this is why you should care and his approved point for you, what it allows you to do? If you can practice that, like you said, to make sure that it's relevant to your different audiences, you can always have a proof point as well as a very clear value proposition whenever you communicate. So I do this in writing and spoken and it's now offhand and it just makes sure that you have credibility at every step of the way, because sales is flooded with messages and promises, right? You want to be the sales rep that actually cuts through and is able to provide real credible proof points within those claims.
Darryl Praill: So what do we need to do, as sales reps to be able to implement CVP? Because I may make a claim and I may feel very confident in my claim and the value I add and I may have the proof point, but it may take me three minutes to get through that and the buyer or the prospect is not going to listen to that for about three minutes.
Laura-Jade Harries: Absolutely, like you said, seven seconds. I think it might even be dwindling now, believe it or not, goldfish have a higher attention span than us. What I like to do is, I feel like everyone just needs to take a minute. Take a minute, sharpen your ax before you start to cut it down, identify your buyer. But before we pick up the phone, spend a couple of minutes, just articulating your value proposition, align a key proof point, maybe a couple based on where you think that conversation might go, always establish relevance. But practice articulation, practice it, pick up your phone, cold call yourself, leave voicemails, you can do that as a daily exercise. Just to get you very aware and self- aware of how you communicate. It's very confronting normal confronting and seeing yourself at 6: 00 AM on a video, but self- awareness is really important to be able to sharpen those communication skills and you can practice articulation. It's not God- given, it's something you can actually refine. So take the time to do it because that first initial moment, if you can demonstrate confidence and credibility and relevance, then your foot's in the door.
Darryl Praill: I'll give you an example, there was an individual on my team and he always listens to the show, so my friend, if you're listening to this, I'm going to use you as a role model, don't yell at me, please. He was a very paced talker and for someone like me, who's like, go, go, go, go, go, caffeine, caffeine, it would be perhaps too slow and he was selling into an industry full of, for lack of a better word, hustlers. So these guys were people who were just imagine they got, if they could work three or four phones at the same time, that's what they'd be doing, right? And so he got feedback from me and I admitted late, did not deliver it tactfully, so I was an idiot for that, always learn folks, that he need to speed it up and he did, and the results were much better. That was a good example of understanding, kind of the whole NLP and how your buyers buy, right? So it's the classic. Now I may be getting this wrong, but what are some of the signs and we can do this now in zoom meetings too, right? So the classic lines and LJ, you will correct me if my NLP is way out of whack. If I look up a lot, I'm a visual thinker, therefore you're going to use a lot of visual metaphors in how you talk, because you're going to connect with them, that's a way of doing it. If they're mirroring, if they're a slow talker, you're a slow talker, if they're a fast talker, you're a fast talker. We miss a lot of that, but what I... so be intentional about that. And I've heard you talk about that LJ, I referred you specifically used the phrase" Communicate intentionally" so help us understand what does that mean?
Laura-Jade Harries: Absolutely, I love those awareness exercises you do. There's a very simple one to understand if you actually think with yourself in mind or your audiences, and I'll get you to do it with me now, so you put a finger on your forehead, right? Put your finger right on the middle of your forehead and then you draw a capital A. So draw a capital A, now tell me what direction that A was facing, was it facing so you could read it or was it facing so I could read it.
Darryl Praill: It was facing so I could read it, although it's so funny, you say that because no, I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you. I'm just laughing because literally I was talking to somebody on a zoom call the other day, and I was talking about east coast versus west coast in Canada, we're talking about geography and I did it. So it was east coast was their east coast, that was probably the first time I'd ever done that. It was new for me and it was the most uncomfortable thing going, but you're right. That was a great example, I'm sorry, I cut you off.
Laura-Jade Harries: It's just a great example of thinking, what do I need to do to put myself in the buyer's shoes? Now, when you talk about intention, planning a phone call having a call planner, to me, I still use them. And sales is more than my job, it's my lifestyle, I coach it. But having an understanding of where could this conversation go, come up with scenarios before you hit a call and I think it sounds so rudimental, but it's so often passed up. When you talk about performance and pitching face to face, you want to make sure you have a really clear idea of what's the words that I can wait or the pauses I can have, because time happens so quickly, we get distracted, people talk. We need to be really controlled in that, regardless of everything else that's happening around us. So just taking a minute planning, what is it that I want out of this? Making sure you have a clear understanding of whether or not you hit that objective in that conversation and then some scenarios of how best to drive that conversation back. There's this wonderful meme that I have that obviously I'll try to articulate being verbal, but it's of a car going down a highway and it's got a sign, a post sign, one says, left for your conversation and it's got right for your client's conversation. If your client goes right, you go right, but you've got to find a way to get it back on the left side of the road. And that's what having intention in communication means. It means you're in control of it because you planned it.
Darryl Praill: So a good example of where I learned those skills myself, is the marketing world. It sounds stupid, but analyst calls were a good example, a Gartner group or Forester or somebody. When you do a briefing with an analyst, you've got 30 minutes, so you go on there and it's like," First step, just confirming, we still have 30 minutes?"," Yes."," Is anybody else joining this meeting?"," No."," Is there anything you want to specifically get out of this meeting?"," I want to get X, Y, and Z." Fantastic, okay. And you've got a deck and you've already timed it out, this deck sort of take me 10 or 15 minutes, I can go through it. This is what I'm pitching to you that I want you to know for our news. That leaves us an additional, probably 10 minutes for Q and A, and along the way, I'm making sure I'm always doing a time check, I'm always pausing, so if they want to interrupt, they can, but I'm keeping a pace and I'm making sure that they specifically get the three things X, Y, and Z, that they want out of it. So at the end, the impression I have left was Thank you, that was really helpful. And I used to get this all the time. I really appreciated that he respected our time, and I really, really am grateful that you gave me exactly what I needed to get out of this. So what did I do? It wasn't so much what I said, it was the impression I left that made them want to continue the conversation, which was my original objection, which is exactly what you were saying, being intentional, sales calls are exactly the same way. And what I see too many reps not doing is not planning their calls, but what I'm so excited about above and beyond that, planning the call, what are they like? What I'm going to say? Is two things you said," Where could this conversation go? What are those scenarios? And I'm ready for it. And what do I want to get out of it?" Those two things change the game on the outcomes that you get, if you do that.
Laura-Jade Harries: They do, I see too many conversations end with a" Thank you.", And then no one knows where to go because no one's really thought about how do I ensure that there's momentum to drive this conversation further beyond this initial conversation. Remember, every conversation is a prelude to the next one, so think about that sequence and plan it out. And it's almost like a conversation pipeline. Once you're able to manage that and drive that communication, you're truly in control of not only your message, but your outcome.
Darryl Praill: One of the simplest ways to achieve the objective you want is exactly what LJ said, where she said, basically she said," Have an agenda and manage the time," I talked about that at the Emma's side. But the beauty of that, think about this folks, the communication skills, the stern of the call you're confirming and you're getting them buying in, they're giving you permission. So, especially if it's a scheduled appointment, as opposed to a cold call, you're saying," If we still have 30 minutes or 60 minutes?"," Yes.", All right." This is my objective today, is that aligned with your objective?"," Yes."," No."," No, why not?"," I wanted this."," Okay, so if I do this and you get that, do we have consensus?"," Yes, we have consensus."," Great." And the beauty of this now is the following, is you have an agreed upon rules of engagement that you've communicated and they've aligned with on you. So now when other or third party tries to come in and throw you off your game, including the actual prospect to agree to the start of the call, you can say," That's a great point, I'm going to put this in this very visible parking lot over here and we'll come back to that after we're done talking about what we agreed to, and so I haven't forgotten that here it is now carrying on Bubba bang." All right. This is the example that LJ has given you about getting them back to the left, they want to go to the right, I want to talk about this and you want to get them back to the left. So you're being intentional, you're controlling the dialogue. To me, reps struggle with this. So LJ, give me, I don't know, if I'm struggling with this, do you have content that I can consume to physically get better or are you teaching more about this at the conference? I assume that's your whole marketing sales of Think like a marketer, sell like a pro session.
Laura-Jade Harries: There's a lot of communication in there, but you can follow me on LinkedIn, I do a lot around communication and effective communication. I call it commercial communication because you know, communicating to get a commercial outcome is really what sales is, so I love that. I'll give you one takeaway, when you talk about reps being, struggling about how to get back on the road to use that analogy again, the key to doing that is actually to do it in a way that demonstrates that you agree with the client as well. It's not to go," Hey, Mr. Prospect, we can't talk about that right now.", you really want to build rapport and improv actually taught me how to do that. Now, I know when you're meeting with Bernadette, who's also at outbound. I've met with Gina, she's also an improv girl. What improv teaches you is actually how to hit barriers and accept cues in conversation and continue with momentum. And that's really what sales is and what you need to be able to do. If you feel like you've hit an objection, or if you feel like the conversation is steering off road is to use, what's called a" Yes, and" rule. So the" Yes, and" rule is the foundation principle of improv and the Yes, allows you to accept a message and demonstrate a grants, and the And allows you to actually change the conversation or shift the direction in a way that doesn't feel jarred, so that your conversation partner is still feeling like you're agreeing with them and you're able to present a countering idea while still having a grants. Very powerful tool of communication," Yes, and."
Darryl Praill: And of course that Bernadette, of course, rockstar, we've had Bernadette on the show before folks look it up. And we just had Gina Trimarco on the show, talking at length about the improv and using the" Yes, and" rule as well, as a few other aspects of improv and how it applies to storytelling and everything else. So you're seeing how the communication, the improv, the storytelling, everything we've been talking about are all driving to get to the ultimate destination that you want. Folks, we are out of time. It's unfortunate, it's amazing how fast this stuff goes. This is my good friend, Laura- Jade Harries, we call her LJ, you can check her out on LinkedIn, please do that. She's all about sales coaching, sales training, she does a lot of team building events, she's got two great sessions, kind of the outbound conference as well as being on the panel for the whole Australian contingent. So she's going to be rocking ed looking forward to seeing the whole crew down there, check her out. But in the meantime, my name is Darryl Praill and I'm signing off for another week of the inside, inside sales show. You guys take care, will talk to you soon. Bye- bye.