Jeff Koser is the founder and CEO at Zebrafi. In today’s episode we talk about an article Jeff wrote titled, “During The Pandemic, Is It Still Okay To Ask For The Order?” Plus, we talk best practices (and the nuances) of virtual selling.
Andy Paul: Jeff. Welcome back to the show.
Jeff Koser: Hey, Andy, it’s good to be back. Thanks for having me. I hear you’ve got your radio voice still intact. It sounds good.
Andy Paul: My radio voice. Yeah, I guess so where have you been hanging out during the pandemic storm?
Jeff Koser: So home is a technically Delafield, Wisconsin on Negawuca Lake. The address is Heartland, but, this is Lake country out here. So it’s been, I can’t complain. I’m looking at the Lake, even as I say this to you right now.
Andy Paul: As you turn your head and look. Wisconsin is hard to go, throw a rock and not hit a Lake in Wisconsin, basically so- isn’t it? I mean I grew up in Madison as we’ve talked about before, which being on a Lake in the summer was part of the culture.
Jeff Koser: It’s better than being on a Lake in the winter. That’s for sure.
Andy Paul: I don’t know there’s probably some ice fishermen that would probably dispute that. They get out there in their huts with their TVs, watch the Packers play and escape from home for a few hours.
Jeff Koser: They do drink some beer or do some other things. Yep.
Andy Paul: That’s Wisconsin. You gotta drink Brandy. I think men and the beer, but it’s gotta be Brandy. All right. So one of the things we didn’t talk about was this transition to a different mode of work, perhaps, during the pandemic and also, talk about it looks like perhaps on the back end though, who knows when that will be. And you wrote this post about is it still okay to ask for the order during a pandemic. And I was curious, was that in response to someone telling you that it wasn’t
Jeff Koser: I just think you have to be that much more respectful right now, even as you try to connect with someone for an initial meeting or a follow on meeting, or certainly for a closing meeting, I think that you have to be respectful that their priorities might shift at a moment’s notice during a pandemic. That was really the point.
Andy Paul: Yeah, you put together this five-part path. I wanted to go through it. Cause I thought that was very useful. And I’ve spoken about similar things, maybe using different words, but your first part of your five-part path was to only pursue prospects where you bring great value. And I’m curious, how would you define great value?
Jeff Koser: The whole premise of selling to zebras is identify where you fit really well and then stay there. So it really is in the spirit of the foundation of how we got started. If you recall when the zebra was born, when I was at Bond, that sounds like it goes together, born at bond. Doesn’t it?
Andy Paul: And for people don’t remember, bond was a ERP software system.
Jeff Koser: Exactly.
Andy Paul: Back in the back on the, on prem days.
Jeff Koser: That’s correct. It was all on premise software, SAP was already large and formidable, Oracle was formidable, not just in database but in application software already at that time. Although, less so than they are today. And Bond was obviously considerably smaller, but also headquartered outside the US like SAP, but had no presence in the US when I started and also had no real customer base. So as a survival technique, we had to figure out who would buy from a company when it’s something that runs your entire business from end to end. And it’s pretty much a bet your business decision and if not, certainly a bet your career decision, when you make that choice to purchase Bond. So we figured out
Andy Paul: Yeah ,to buy the unknown, not brand name at that time
Jeff Koser: Exactly.
Andy Paul: Yeah, that was my path through most of life actually in sales.
Jeff Koser: Sometimes we choose those because we like that role.
Andy Paul: Yeah, absolutely.
Jeff Koser: And that’s where it came from. It was out of survival. How do you find prospects who would buy from you after you go through all the work? Because you don’t want to just be considered, you want to win and-
Andy Paul: Exactly.
Jeff Koser: And we used to say, we worked harder to get our first appointment than SAP worked to get a deal.
Andy Paul: That’s so familiar because that’s yeah, from my part I worked, I wasn’t selling software I was selling mission critical communication systems that companies were basing their business on, yeah, from startups selling multimillion dollar systems against big, well known brand name tech companies. And, you just nailed it. And that, so often you think sales these days is that people are just sort of satisfied just to have competed and you know, no, we went on business if we didn’t win.
Jeff Koser: Yeah, I’d rather be 14th than second.
Andy Paul: Yeah, I would’ve would have left ship, jumped ship earlier if I knew I was going to be 14th.
Jeff Koser: Yeah, but the idea is to get out early, right? It’s a metaphor for getting out early versus expending all your resources only to lose.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. You know, maybe off track here completely from what you’re talking about, but to your point, just getting back to your point about winning, one of the things I see at least in a lot of SaaS companies is being satisfied with low win rates.
Jeff Koser: Yeah. Yeah. In fact, most companies actually have low win rates.
Andy Paul: Yeah, because they are very efficient at top of the funnel, getting activity into it and sort of content to play the odds.
Jeff Koser: Yeah, it’s also another one of the basic tenants of Zebra Selling is that you pursue those prospects where if you stayed within the profile that the perfect prospect defines you’d close up to 90% of the business that you pursue. And most people, especially CFOs when you make that claim, they don’t believe it.
Andy Paul: Most salespeople wouldn’t
Jeff Koser: believe it.
True. But CFOs are born with that skeptic gene. So they violently don’t believe it. But we have lots of proof and that’s a great place to start out with is with a challenge with an audacious claim that you can actually back up. It’s a little bit like being Muhammad Ali, right?
Andy Paul: Let’s stay on that path then. So yeah, we’ve got this and we’ll come back to what we were originally gonna talk about, but cause it gets to this idea of, you suddenly pursue prospects for being great value is if you’re doing that, then you should be able to win a much higher fraction of those deals.
Jeff Koser: No doubt about it. And what a good crisis affords us and I say that purposefully, a crisis eliminates the wheat from the chaff, right? Just to wax biblical for a second, it separates out the pretenders from the contenders, because it forces us to get better because the only solution, I think the only solutions that actually are going to get bought today are ones where you can demonstrate that you bring unique value and I believe you have to have a business case to back it up. Otherwise the company’s either going to hunker down and not spend anything, or they’re going to spend those available dollars on something else, completely different than what your solution is.
Andy Paul: Yeah. We’re gonna, we’re gonna talk about that part later on because I think that’s a critical part that gets overlooked. But to me that when I was looking at this and thinking about the great value is one of the things I’ve been speaking about during this time is as others have been, as well as, yeah, I believe the key is like all speed to value or speed to outcome, which is can you identify those urgent problems? Still part of the key strategic initiative of the company, but maybe it’s not this gigantic transformation project they’re going to do or this big, expensive initiative, but there’s still something in there that they need to get done. They need to get solved.
They need to achieve something and you have to identify those. If they had something with a quicker, more demonstrable ROI at this time, especially you’re going into a new logo. You get in as a valued partner, especially if you demonstrate that quick ROI speed to value, you’re in.
Jeff Koser: And there’s a lot of value to being in there. you’re in the accounts payable system, which with a larger company is not necessarily a small thing either. But your speed to value is a smart praise because it speaks to risk, it lowers risk. If there’s quick speed to value, it’s an easier yes, because they believe they will actually achieve some value.
Andy Paul: I think that plays into the hands of smaller competitors. Cause you and I were talking about, being on that end of the equation oftentimes throughout our career is I found as a smaller supplier, this approach was played to my advantage because especially the bigger guys hated even in non pandemic times, they hated to have deals de scoped.
Because they had bigger quotas and they had bigger nuts to hit. And yeah, if you could really narrow down the focus and find those things that are the most urgent, most pressing, that to your point before is help de-risk it, as a small supplier, that’s a very effective way to compete.
Jeff Koser: That’s another really good observation. You’re right. you might even eliminate some competitors because yeah. It isn’t big enough for them to move the needle. So they lose interest.
Andy Paul: Exactly. And the thing is that plays to the customer’s advantage, oftentimes because to your point in mission critical or critical business solutions problems you’re dealing with. Yeah. Something could be at stake for these people personally, if they make the wrong decision, but give them a way to prove to anybody else that yet we can bring the system in and integrates with our system that we’re doing now. It provides us quick ROI. Yeah. If you’re a smaller competitor, that’s the path you want to take. I always call it start with the smallest logical relationship you can start with your buyers.
Jeff Koser: The land and expand strategy, people use different phrases to describe that, but that’s been effective for a long time, but I think when companies are nervous, when there’s a lot of fear, I think it’s a great strategy because they can dip their toe in the water and if they’re wrong, it there you’ve, de-risked it for them to the point where they could and Saas makes it easier to shift anyway. So they can get in, they can get out quickly. But it also, but that also raises the risk for the supplying company. So you and I, who are selling a solution with that is a SaaS. we have to make sure that we over deliver. Or we could get eliminated very quickly.
Andy Paul: I think that’s where the speed to ROI comes is. I think in normal times, land and expand is we’re going to put this in. You know, we got a year to figure it out because then, maybe the renewals a year or maybe it’s two. It’s No, let’s what can we do that in 90 days they’ve got something they’ve got a return coming,
Jeff Koser: That’s ironic. That’s ironic, really ironic because at the top of the hour, that is the exact conversation I’m having with one of our clients is how can they change the turnover process and therefore the beginning steps that they take with a new client to do exactly what you just described. Bring very quick value right out of the gate.
Andy Paul: yeah, because the onus then on the competition, then if they’re looking to replace you out a year as well. Yeah. Can you deliver the same way these guys did?
Jeff Koser: Exactly.
Andy Paul: And that’s a much higher bar other than just, yeah, this is a, like for like switch, No big deal. Yeah, no. Yeah. And the absence of other sort of heavy switching costs the way you make it, the switch, the sort of the switching costs more tangible is have over delivered, as you talked about.
Jeff Koser: Yeah, that’s too overdeliver right now is the goal that we set with all of our clients. And, it’s, we had just to share with you open up a little bit. We had one when, when this whole, pandemic started, it wasn’t even pandemic yet. It was just the fear of what could be coming. They furloughed us and another client asks to take down our licensing fees by 20% just to protect themselves so that they didn’t run into a cash crunch. But other than that, we were okay. Hey, we started a close business and the one client that, that brought us down actually came back, brought us back, paid us back fees, and then brought us up 20%.
And so we’ve been made whole, now we did lose one. They’ve still furloughed us, but, so the over-delivering, did pay off. We put a lot of, we put a lot into it to help them improve that while they saw the results to the sales results. So that worked out pretty well. But it made us nervous right at the beginning, this whole scary time.
Andy Paul: Yeah, it’s have you been able to maintain your staff?
Jeff Koser: We have. Yeah. In fact, we just added another person, which is, each hire we make is critical because our culture is really important to us. So it’s every hire is, it’s something that we pay a lot of attention to we that’s part of what we’ve built in the past is every single person matters. And you’re only as good as your weakest link.
Andy Paul: Yeah, that certainly the case. Yeah, I think we’ve added about a third again, new employees during this time. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, businesses is good, but we’re also fortunate to be serving a segment that, a high priority for a lot of companies sales during this whole pandemic. So second part of your path you had talked about was and you mentioned before is approach people courteously with respect, realizing it might not be a priority. But there’s a couple things that you said that just for me is, and I know you, so I know you believe this, but isn’t that always the case, that’s how you want to approach prospects?
Jeff Koser: Funny how all these things ring true no matter when you’re trying to sell to someone. But it’s just so many of our values that we prioritize as we get squeezed during something like this, they become even that much more pronounced that much more important.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I, there with the conversation, somebody recording one about, just how infuriating all this content that’s put out there over the last several months about. Now’s the time to lead with empathy and I’m thinking what crap, you should always be leading with empathy. It’s just I think it’s do your point is, crises are good time to reflect and to focus on best practices. Because, you know, if you’ve and time to reinforce them or, whatever you need to do, if you’re, if this is you start a new to the game with some of these things at this point in time, it’s not going to come across as very authentic.
Jeff Koser: Yeah, sincerity matters. I think that it’s harder to sell virtually because you can’t read the room. And when you’re selling virtually you and your content have to be that much better, but your character and your true motives, they still come through,
Andy Paul: Exactly.
Jeff Koser: It’s, which is another way of saying, what’s the point you just made, right? So you can’t hide, I think it’s even harder to hide.
Andy Paul: Yeah, why, but in part, let’s dig into that a little bit. Cause this idea of, you know, some people bless their hearts, people I know have rush to market with books about virtual selling, writing 70,000 word books in three months and getting them published, which is very impressive feat. But you know, I’ve gone on record and said that virtual selling, in-person selling, whatever it’s like to your point earlier, it’s the same basic sales behaviors have to be there. And if you’re not good at it in person, you’re not going to be good at it virtually. And it’s for me, the medium doesn’t really matter. If your ability to connect with someone, to build a rapport, to start developing the relationship, that connection, sort of, the same.
Jeff Koser: What’s interesting is, just, we’ve been selling virtually here for very long time.
Andy Paul: I was going to make the point. We, as a profession, we started selling virtually when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
Jeff Koser: There you go. That’s true. and that’s yeah, so there, so I’ll just diverge on another point, you and I could do this all day. But that’s why I’ve always interviewed people both ways from the very beginning of my career, which is, do they have a telephone presence? Can they read somebody over the phone? And then do they have a face to face presence? Because those are two different things.
Andy Paul: Interesting. That’s a great point. I’ve actually, I’ve never heard anybody bring that up before is to deliberately interview people multiple multimode. So would you do it, I guess by necessity, you’d do it on the phone and over zoom or something today.
Jeff Koser: So I do it over both today with over the, just over a mobile, over a cell phone and over zoom today. And I always have them. Presents something to me too, because I think that’s something that you can see, or ask them to do a task. Like I’ll ask him to it, read our book and to come back with questions or to highlight the things that impacted them. Because if they’ll do that step, that means it’s something they really want. A presentation tells you, I’ve so many times in my career, I’ve almost made a mistake where I’ve watched, I would have hired the person and then I watched them present back to me and then I didn’t make the hire
Andy Paul: What did you see?
Jeff Koser: In one case I saw, It was someone who is attractive. It doesn’t matter what your gender is, but they were attractive. And, they used that really effectively in a face to face interview. And so I asked him to do a presentation and when they did the presentation and it was a topic that they got to choose. I did not feel that same presence. I didn’t feel that same, command of the flow. And I didn’t want, I made a decision that I would feel uncomfortable buying from this person, or potentially even allowing them a second meeting.
Andy Paul: Interesting.
Jeff Koser: That’s probably the most glaring example. The other one that happened was an individual who positioned themselves. We were going to hire them for a role of installing for us. And they positioned themselves as being the leader of a team, an SAP team that was doing, implementations and it was over a segment of the SAP, software suite. Because nobody installs at all. It’s just a monster. And so I, as I listen to them present, I just, I asked them to go to the whiteboard and map out for me, where they fit in the role, because something just didn’t feel right. And then when we were done, I determined they really didn’t lead the team, they were a player on the team, is what became obvious. So they were misrepresenting, how much of a management position, how much of a leadership role they had played?
Andy Paul: Which people fudge all the time on resumes.
Jeff Koser: They do.
Andy Paul: wonder. Does, you think LinkedIn is changing that or exacerbating it because yeah, if you put something on LinkedIn, Anybody can come see it. former peers, there’s lots of people could take a look at it and say, that’s BS. That’s not what happened. I wonder if it’s having any sort of impact that way or whether you’ve seen that.
Jeff Koser: I don’t know. I would hope that the, you can’t fix stupid. So it’s probably still out there. The truth is a good enough story, I guess that should just be our mantra. The truth is a good enough story. And if you I’m sure that people will embellish because they put it in writing before, and they don’t even think about the fact that so many more eyes are on it. Think about what people do and say, and link to on Facebook, for example. So I think that it is, but it’s probably the same I’ll bet. The number of people who stretch the truth on paper versus an electronic form is the same.
Andy Paul: Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately probably true. I always think back to, I think it was Mark Twain saying if you never lie, you never have to remember anything.
Jeff Koser: Yeah, or you have to remember less. That’s true, right?
Andy Paul: But, another point on your pathway was, which was interested in providing an easy opt in or opt out, provide the buyer an easy opt in or opt out that leaves them feeling good about you and your company. So tell us what you meant by that. We touched a little bit on earlier, but let’s go deeper on that.
Jeff Koser: So that’s really about creating a buying cycle experience for a prospect. None of us like to be sold to. And because it doesn’t feel good. Even salespeople don’t like to be sold to and the buyer really always has the option to opt in or opt out. But if we, as salespeople realize that is true and we create a collaborative, each step is a collaborative decision to go to the next step. it’s clear, it’s laid out it’s agreed to, and that feels good to both of us because they have the problem we solve. We solve it really well. And we map out how that next step is going to bring them value. And even the best sales cycles are the ones that bring value to the prospect even if they don’t end up buying from us. Where they walk away with something that would make them better or help them make a better decision, whether they decide to go down on our path or not.
Andy Paul: Yeah. I use the phrase that, you know, one of things that happens when you’re selling to someone, as they get smarter.
Jeff Koser: Yes.
Andy Paul: And they get smarter in process. And this is why sometimes I caution people against getting too rigid in their sales stages and their exit criteria and so on. And assuming that, one defined process is gonna apply to all prospects, formally, which it won’t, is that the prospects getting smarter. And so they oftentimes, in my experience, companies I’ve dealt with is their requirements begin to shift through the sales process. And so you have to continually be, re-evaluating asking the questions to your point, getting agreements that, Hey, we’ve, these are the choices so far about how we’re going to proceed.
This is the next choice we’re gonna make. And yeah, in the absence of that, if you’re just pulling straight ahead, Yeah, you’re going to create a lot of friction. And the friction comes in the form of this term that, Jonah Berger has written a book. A Wharton professor wrote a book called the catalyst about our catalyst, how people, how to change people’s minds.
But, research showing that everybody has this sort of, I call it a cognitive bias, which is persuasion resistance. And we all have And it so if you’re just bulling ahead sort of, this is what our process, This is where we’re going to go, we’re pushing it forward. People digging their heels, and that resistance is the very definition of friction.
Jeff Koser: And if you, if the next step is mapped out, not for your benefit, but for the prospect’s benefit, then you’re really nailing it. And that’s part of what I’m advocating as well. It’s just that you should be thinking, I think from their side of the desk, what would you want to do if you were buying this solution? What would help you decide if this was the best solution for you? Not only to solve this problem, but that this is something, the thing that you should solve versus like we talked about before, spending money on something, alternatively, maybe not even related to what you’re talking about with that prospect.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Okay. So the last or the fifth of your, of last of your points in your path, which I wanted to get into, as you said, ask for the business only if you verified the prospect as a business issue and you verified the value of solving the business problem. Now that last part, I agree with a hundred percent, but I rarely see sellers do that and you don’t have a qualified prospect really fully qualified prospect until that takes place.
Jeff Koser: You don’t and the reason most salespeople don’t do that is because we haven’t given them the tools to do that. Their organizations, their sales, operations group, their VP of sales. If they’re an individual contributor, they have, I haven’t been given the tools. And been taught how to do that, Andy. Very few companies have tools that go beyond maybe a simple ROI spreadsheet, very few, have a guided selling path where you can identify on the front end. First of all, like we talked about, they are zebra, meaning they’re there they’re really good prospect for you. They have business, you found evidence that they have business problems that you’ve solved. Then you have proof customers who are just like them and that proof should include the metrics. So if you’ve solved those problems for others that are like them, what value did they say in their words that you created for them by solving those? And if that’s the foundation of how you prove it to them, then it’s more believable.
Because it doesn’t come from you. It doesn’t come from your marketing department. In fact, it’s not, we say it’s not the voice of the customer, or excuse me, it’s not the voice of the sales person, it becomes the voice of the customer and the voice of the customer is more believed because they, they said in their own words, even if it’s not as, quite as eloquent. They said it in their own words. And that’s how you prove it. That’s the piece that is missing in most processes is the proof of value and the collaborative agreement that you’ve, that you are able to create that value.
Andy Paul: I think there’s another step though, that I was referring to more specifically, which was, you know, if I was selling, which I was for years, large complex systems to large enterprise, that if I couldn’t verify that they had done their own internal planning and had quantified what they believe, the value they were going to receive from achieving the outcomes they desired, then they weren’t ready to make a decision.
Jeff Koser: That’s really that’s the whole premise of hope is not a strategy. Right? People don’t know how to decide until they figure out they can’t decide. And then they have to figure out how they’re going to decide.
Andy Paul: Right. As part of your process. Yeah. If you’re thinking about this as a seller is even if you have to educate the buyer about this, which you don’t, because of it’s a sizeable commitment they’re making, someone’s done this calculation somewhere, right? There’s somebody, the calculation had to be done to get sign off, even to proceed and say, let’s invest more time in exploring this.
And I’ve always found that the sooner you got to that point, you know. If you could be the first supplier to get to that point with the buyer, I’ve had a qualified buyer then at that point, the chances of them making the decision to do nothing diminish very severely. And which meant you’re more likely to get a decision and more likely to get a winning decision.
Jeff Koser: That’s often what people do with an RFP or an RFI process is they figure out the internal business case, like you just described and then via the web they pursue who might have a solution and they assemble the list of alternatives that they’re going to consider. So that’s the buying side decision process, right?
Realization we have a problem, quantify what it might do for us. Look for alternatives and then start to engage and like you and I have spoken about in the past, that’s why they say today, they say that 60 to 70% of the selling is done because they check out the web, they check out all the sources that we make available to them as companies. And they decide who they’re going to look at based on what they find out there. And then they select who they’re going to allow to participate in the process, which is a key part of the point you’re making is that they’ve determined that it’s worth it to deploy resources, to try to solve this problem. Right?
Andy Paul: Yeah, I actually go a step further, which was that through those first few steps that you described before they get to the point of deciding I divided into two, two phases, really. Defining what we want to do is the first phase. And the second phase is deciding who we want to do it with. And I encourage my coach teams when I build teams and I sell myself, I overemphasize the first part because I want them to basically be influenced heavily by me in their decision of how they want to solve their problem. And so when they go to the part of then making a decision about who to solve it with, yeah they put out their RFI, their RFP, whatever. Somebody picks up and says, Oh wow, this has got Andy written all over it.
Jeff Koser: Yeah. Yeah. That’s and that’s where I was going to go next. Was that what we’ve learned, in talking with, so we advocate that you talk with your customers and we do that work. We do voice to the customer work as is a foundation of everything that we create. Because when you do that and you talk to the decision maker at your client companies, you learn why they bought and you learn insights that you didn’t have before. It’s amazing. You think, why an executive would buy from who, from you and you find out you didn’t know all the reasons they bought, you didn’t know their business problem from their perspective. And it causes you to expand your business case and your discussions and the things that you bring that uniquely qualify you as the best alternative, which does what you just said. It allows you to shape how they make that decision to move forward. What they put in that RFP, what they determined is important that a solution has to have.
Andy Paul: Yeah, there’s a researcher, professor, a gentleman named Paul Nutt and, forget where he was maybe Indiana University, but I read them a couple of books, one of the Heath brothers books talks about his research and so on. And I just done other reading on him. And what he says has been as companies go businesses, go through this process of making decisions is they must have a process defined or defined, to create options, right? We’ve identified this problem. Now we’re going to identify one or more options we have in order to solve it. And then we’re going to choose one of the options and take that and say, okay, who can help us make this become a reality?
And you know, you want to become one of the options, right? You want to shape those options. And the thing that’s was interesting is in his research in one paper, he wrote paraphrasing, roughly, but the numbers are pretty astounding. It was like for decision makers and be an enterprise where oftentimes presented yeah, like 99% of the time they’re presented no more than two options.
Something like that. It was just like mind blowing, right? So basically, decisionmakers in corporations are- if you can be in one of those two or influenced both of them, ideally, but even influencing one of two, your odds of winning go up substantially. So it’s this idea of being focused on helping them identify the problem quantified, as you talked about, to get to the point where they’re saying, okay, now let’s put this RFQ, however we’re going to do it. And it’s a different way of looking at business. I find that so many sellers in the way we train sellers predominantly, is just on that last stage. How to sell a product to an interested prospect, but oftentimes you’re too late. They already I have somebody else in mind.
Jeff Koser: And you’re so far. Yeah. And to your right point, you’re so far behind, there’s no catching up and you might have been so far behind just when they’re on step three, if you tried to, we’ve been going through an exercise, we’ve added this to our voice of the customer work. And we’ve been doing this even inside of our own customer base. With the first question we ask is what would customers do? What would they buy if your solution didn’t exist? What would they have done? And if you ask that of your own customers, you get answers that you would not expect. You think they might come up with someone that is a particularly good competitor of yours that maybe even has similar features and functions, maybe positions themselves similarly. But very often what they come up with is they would have used Excel spreadsheets or they’ll, or they would have, right. They would have stayed with whatever they were doing, they would have hired another body.
Andy Paul: Right.
Jeff Koser: It’s not what you expect. so a lot of times, and this is why this is the fundamental reason why salespeople fall into the trap of talking about their whizzbang features and functions, because they think that the prospect understands why those are important and what they even mean when most prospects don’t.
Andy Paul: I think it’s a combination of things. So I think it’s that. But I also think it’s because sellers think that fundamentally their job is to persuade someone to buy their product. Instead of I look at it and as I’m trying to influence the choices they’re making about how to solve the problem. And if I do that, I’m dramatically increasing my odds of winning.
If I’m just trying to persuade somebody to buy what I have, then that shapes the questions I ask that shapes the whole trajectory of the sales process. And it doesn’t mean you won’t win some deals, but you know, if you’re selling an enterprise system, you’re going to miss out on a ton of opportunities.
Jeff Koser: I liked the way you shifted that.
Andy Paul: This perspective, it’s just gotta be shifted. yeah. Yeah. it’s, to me, that’s the fundamental problem I think in sales is that we’re confronting all the time when we train sellers and so on, but it’s I think we go too far trying to train skills and we don’t spend enough time trying to educate people about.
Yeah, this is the perspective you need to have. it’s a great, simple examples that I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book Selling with Noble Purpose written by Lisa McCloud. It’s I recommend it. It’s a great book.
Jeff Koser: I like the sound of it.
Andy Paul: Yeah. And it’s been around for a while. She just 10, 12 years. She’s just really seeing a second edition. And so I was really glad I had a chance to read it and talk with her and, but you know, she defines this purpose as, being able to say or ask yourself as how does what we do change the lives of our customers?
It’s to a point of, the question you’re asking just a little bit ago, I was like, Yeah. Can you answer this question, right? You were talking about, why did they buy from us? But it’s could you, as a salesperson say, how does our product or service change the lives of our customers?
Jeff Koser: I like what Zig Ziglar said so many times all throughout his life, if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get more than enough of what you want.
Andy Paul: Yes. But it’s just putting in these terms, it’s a different perspective. And that’s the whole point for a book is yeah. We have to shift the perspective of sellers because it’s not a matter of inadequate skills, which is what the vast bulk of training is about. It’s really about what do they think they’re doing?
Jeff Koser: That’s why one of the things, so to help salespeople learn that, one of the things we do is we actually coach them, how do you share your zebra live with that prospect so that you can both determine you’re in the right place? And we used to do this even when it was manual before there was software, where we would- One of my, one of my guys was a six foot three Texan, and I won’t give you his name, still a good friend, he’s still out there selling, but he would sit down with the executive sometimes even the CEO of a company. And we’ll walk through our Zebra and about the second or third point, he’d make that executive would start saying, that sounds just like us. That sounds just like us. And he would walk through it. And by the time he got done, the guy would invariably say, because he had already done his homework, he knew he was in front of someone where he fit particularly well, the guy would say, this is an awful lot like us and David would say, that’s right. And that’s why when you’re done, you’re going to buy from me. But he made. Yeah, it was like he turned it into something lighter at the end. But what he was really doing is saying, does, are we in the room? Are we both in the right place? am I going to help you solve this problem? Do I have something that fits you really well to solve the problem you’re trying to solve? Let’s decide this together. that’s what that process did.
Andy Paul: That’s ideally the position you want to be in
Jeff Koser: It is because that starts out the relationship on the right path. And that’s the point that I was making on that very first bullet.
Andy Paul: I think, yeah, following up with that, as we talked about. Those persuasion resistance. I just find it ironic that, and we had, even without this research that Jonah Berger cites in his book, we all know this, we’ve all felt this persuasion resistance that people have and yet this is how we train sellers. We train sellers in the one behavior that we know everybody hates.
Jeff Koser: we do we, the other persuade? Yeah. it’s politics and religion at a family gathering. It’s no fun. Nobody’s going to change anybody’s mind and everybody leaves feeling crummy.
Andy Paul: Yeah, no, that’s a great way to describe it. And, yeah, we could go on and on forever, I think. But, unfortunately we’ve run out of time, but, Jeff as always a pleasure to talk with you.
Jeff Koser: Andy. It’s always fun for me too. And we could go on forever.
Andy Paul: Yeah. We’ll do it again. tell people they can connect with you andTfind out more about Zebrafi.
Jeff Koser: So I’m easy to find. It’s Jeff@zebrafi.com That’s my email. Or you can check us out at zebrafi.com.
Andy Paul: Yeah. When did you do your sort of rebranding?
Jeff Koser: We did it when we became a C Corp. And the reason for that was so that we could take on funding. We were an S-corp, perspective investors wanted a C Corp and the state of Wisconsin wouldn’t let us keep the same name. Believe it or not.
Andy Paul: So did you raise money?
Jeff Koser: We haven’t. We were really just getting, going with that.
Andy Paul: Okay. good luck on that.
Jeff Koser: Well, thank you.
Andy Paul: Alright, Jeff, we’ll look forward to talking again soon.
Jeff Koser: Thanks Andy.