Coaching Sales Calls, with Richard Smith [Episode 745]

Richard Smith, Co-Founder and Head of Sales at Refract, joins me on this episode.

Key Takeaways

  • Andy and Richard discuss performing for outcomes as an underdog. In a competitive field, your biggest differentiator as a salesperson is how you speak, how you sell to customers, and how you help them buy.
  • Andy used to sell Burroughs computers and was an underdog against IBM in every sale. Andy found ways to sell, regardless of IBM. He had a similar situation working for Apple when IBM released the PC. Selling is influencing.
  • Andy talks about the two decisions a customer makes before a purchase. Richard says if you shine a light on a problem the prospect has before they know they have it, you will be in place to help them to the solution.
  • If you enter the fray when the competition is known, you can crush the competition with superior discovery and personal service. Success comes through hard work, human connection, and immediate responses with value.
  • Time is the biggest killer of deals. Get the customer through the pipeline as soon as possible. Don’t be a slow seller. Give the customer the information they need to move to the next stage of the decision-making process.
  • Richard explores Mark Roberge’s comparison of the doctor-patient relationship to the salesperson-customer relationship. Lead the process.
  • Richard founded Refract based on his experiences as an uncoached SDR. Refracts tools help the manager listen to sales conversations and coach effectively for better outcomes. Dashboards don’t measure quality.
  • Refract is in the competitive category of Conversational Intelligence. Their strength with this emerging technology, is in post-sales customer success, helping customers understand trends in their sales conversations.
  • Refract addresses two areas of coaching: reviewing the “game tape” of a conversation and “pre-game practice” before a conversation. Richard shares process details.
  • Can conversational intelligence tools help salespeople learn to listen better? The context is more important than the keywords that are used. Bias prevents understanding. Refract alerts salespeople on things they missed in calls.
  • There is no optimum talk time ratio in a conversation. It depends on the situation and the companies. Data gives insights; the context of a conversational is key. Listen carefully to improve performance for your personality.
  • Education, training, and coaching are separate matters. Andy and Richard compare their views on these areas.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  

It’s time to accelerate. Hey friends, this is Andy Welcome to Episode 745. I have another excellent episode lined up here today. Joining me as my guest is Richard Smith Richards the co founder and head of sales at refract. Now in a competitive sales situation. Your biggest differentiator as a salesperson is how you speak, how you sell to customers, how you help them buy, and every seller can use coaching to help them improve their skills in all three of these dimensions we’ve talked about, and Richard and I are gonna dive into how to use the latest tools such as conversational intelligence solutions to amp up the quality of your coaching. Now among the topics we’ll also be talking about today are why it’s important to learn how to sell like the underdog and how to keep that underdog mentality present in your sales at all times. Why dashboards don’t measure the quality of what happens in a sales call. The importance of pregame practice and warm up before sales calls. I mean, actually, practice not just visualize but practice out loud what you’re going to say how you’re going to say it. Also look at how conversational intelligence tools help managers assess the true quality of sales calls. So we’ll be getting into that. and much much more. Alright, let’s jump into it. Richard, welcome to accelerate.

 

Richard Smith  

I’m delighted to be here.

 

Andy Paul  

And you’re joining us from where today

 

Richard Smith  

so I am joining you from Newcastle.

 

Andy Paul  

Newcastle.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, you have fun on the team.

 

Andy Paul  

Well you know I am a huge huge football fan and the real football and yeah man I enjoyed. I felt team stuff Americans on so down starting starting right back as an American DeAndre edelen So,

 

Richard Smith  

Yep, yeah, yeah, yeah, well, it’s good to hear that we’ve got some supporters over there. It hasn’t been the happiest of times as a Newcastle Newcastle fan over recent years. Boy, he’s

 

Andy Paul  

Got the worst worst owner in professional sports perhaps. So.

 

Richard Smith  

I’m glad I’m glad even people in the states recognize that too. So

 

Andy Paul  

Well maybe I mean I am a die hard soccer fan so if you read my my sometimes daily weekly emails I got to my list and a lot of soccer references on there so but yeah, it’s it’s been it’s been fun to watch this year because they’ve been producing results which is you know, inspirational read or what profession you’re in is there’s a team of moderately talented players I mean, right no real superstars on that team

 

Richard Smith  

Except Colin

 

Andy Paul  

I mean playing in the most competitive league in the world and producing great results against the top teams this year.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, no, that’s uh, I think I always play. My call is quite safe when trying to get positive about Newcastle so forgive me if I’m not Sitting around with enthusiasm. I’ve just seen a good go wrong too many times.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah. But I mean, they’ve stayed up despite that, right. And so quite an accomplishment. I said they’ve been entertaining. I’ve watched a couple of the matches, like the Man City match, and yeah, the Tottenham match. And now, where are they? So I think from a sales perspective you look at as somebody who’s the underdog coming in and doing what they need to do to produce an outcome. And yeah, yeah, oftentimes, I see salespeople serve to fold up their tent. So I mean, I started by telling you to start recently, as I started my career, selling for a company called Burroughs at that time was a sales, multi billion dollar company selling computer systems. But at the time, IBM owned 80% of the market. Okay, so there’s nothing even comparable to the right then IBM though you had all these antitrust interaction actions against them by the US Government. But by default, every time I went to sell, you’re competing against IBM, and we’re the underdog. And yet we still had to make quota. Yeah, I made president’s club and did well, but you have to can’t fold your tent just because you’re competing against somebody that says, Oh, they got a better track record, better brand name, whatever. Yeah,

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, yep. No, I think it’s a fair, fair point. I mean, one of the things I’m very vocal about is we live in a working in a sales world that is more competitive than ever. I’m from the SaaS world and in the sales and marketing tech landscape, even in that landscape is a busy old place, even when you break it down into the individual categories. Sure. Was your category among

 

Andy Paul  

Them? Yeah,

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, sure. And there’s, there’s, you know, it’s an emerging category. That’s got five or six players in the and, you know, I think one thing I always say to salespeople is that your competition might be very similar because your products and services might know 80% of your products or services might be very similar to the next one. The biggest differentiator that you have as a salesperson is is ultimately how you how you speak how you how you sell to customers, how you help them by how you help them see problems they didn’t, didn’t see they have and that is for me almost the biggest differentiator any salesperson hasn’t it is well,

 

Andy Paul  

I agree 100 percent. I mean, I wrote about that in my first book, eight years ago. I mean, that was that even then is that and it’s been the case. I mean, this is not new. This is what I tried to get across to people’s. It’s always been the case that you as a salesperson are the frontline of differentiation. And this I send this message just these are the stories I just told you is Yeah, I started looking back through my career you know certainly when I went against Burroughs so why’s that Burroughs and went against IBM selling these? Yeah, sometimes large computer systems to companies as we were the underdog every time IBM, this whole sense of panic they tried to induce in their customers like a fear uncertainty doubt was called the Fudd factor fear, uncertainty doubt is they tried to instill that in all the customers and this whole rush was you know, you’ll never get fired buying from IBM, I had, I had by lost business prospects that told me that right, they weren’t even gonna consider, but you still have to find a way to sell and then yeah, after that I worked for a series of of startups for the most part, but right after Burroughs is at Apple in the early days of apple. Right when IBM introduced their PC people were writing Apple’s obituary, and my job was to go out and convince businesses to buy Apple twos and Apple threes to use in their business. And yet we found a way to do it. And we found a way to get no software support and start building something that took years to come to fruition. Yeah, yeah. But but then yeah, working for startups selling mission critical applications or mission critical communication systems for large companies. I was always the underdog. And so, yeah, I’m an absolute believer in fact, the sort of theme of my next book coming up that it it’s, it’s all about you and to be able to influence the outcome.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, yeah. No, for sure. So much about so much that resonates with me and hopefully resonates with listeners. Because I think in sales we salespeople are guilty of making lots of excuses of why everything’s always against them and winning deals. It’s usually never their fault. And I think once they, once salespeople realize that so much of success in sales is one driven by, by hard work, but but but secondly is the quality of interactions that they have with customers how they help customers help help customers by then they instantly become more successful, they stop relying on their products to do all the selling all the time. Because customers are very rarely looking for products. They’re just looking for solutions and usually helping them find the solutions.

 

Andy Paul  

And they’re not even looking for the best. Doing air quotes for people that can’t see me is the best solution as to your point. The point I bring up all the time, as I believe in my experience, has shown me there’s no Nobel Prize winning research to substantiate This is that most people make good enough decisions. Right when you’re busy or working you Want to get this? Yeah, looking at refract eyes products are those in those categories, they need to make a decision. You know, the incremental return they’ll get from additional investment of time searching. All the vendors just aren’t there. So, yeah, this idea of I think, and this is one that sort of goes hand in hand we’re talking about before is, is there’s a lot of virtue in this world when people make good enough decisions to being first and being being fast and fast being defined as Yeah, I believe there’s a certain influence points that individual creates with somebody and if you can be the first to get to that influence point, then you substantially increase your odds of of winning the deal, and that’s based on your personal influence, not the influence of the company.

 

Richard Smith  

Yep, yep, nope. You mean you’re definitely on the same page that

 

Andy Paul  

Oh, good. We can then now?

 

I was just here to validate myself. No, that’s great. But I think it’s what’s overlooked in sales is I think there’s too often we focus on the wrong targets. And again, I was having this conversation with a client last week and said, You’ve got your salespeople with this client ID so focused on getting the order. And, and I’ve written about this and spoken about us when I was selling it, as I gain more experience, I started to understand it’s like, well, hmm, there’s actually two decisions being made here. And the first decision being made is are we going to make a change? Right, and what are the options we have for making a change and customers make that decision for sometimes In fact, there’s research that says that most cases, that’s binary choice, are we going to do it or not? Right? And so when they make that decision, they’re gonna do it first to make a change. They’ve done their internal business case, and they’ve got a vision in mind of what it is they’re gonna be able to achieve. That needs to be the vision they’re gonna achieve with your product. Right? Because Yeah, the second decision, which I always said, was a second order decision as well, who are we gonna make that change with? Well, the prevailing vision in their mind is, yeah, my product, I’ve got a much higher chance of winning that order at the end of the day. So you should be focusing, much disproportion amount of your selling resources into those first few interactions where you’re building that level of influence that enables you to become the subject of that first, that first third choice your call it and there’s and there’s a guy In the United States professor has since retired has written extensively about this. And it’s so funny when I first read about his research, I had already come to this understanding through my own experiences, like, you know, you get the sense of validation, like I just wasn’t crazy. But this is the way people look at it. So too often we direct our salespeople let’s, we say, Okay, well, sales is sort of like this cumulative point value, right? That’s your crew over time, where it’s really I think it’s much more almost our peak before they make that first choice whether they’re go no go. And that’s really what you’ll be focused on.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, and what kind of what you’ve just gone through there. Just makes me think a lot about my world of selling in my company. And I think as salespeople traditionally have, have much preferred to be dealing with those customers who were in the market looking for a product and you know, those leads that they get from the website, where someone’s booked a demo there. They’re already along the buying cycle and the salespeople are hungry for those opportunities, because they’re looking for a solution. And it’s just about us showing them how great our product is. And I actually feel from my experience, it’s actually much better to be speaking with a customer before they’ve actually got to that point. Because, to your point, Andy, if you can start to educate a customer through conversation about a problem that they don’t really realize they have, but they have got a problem. And you kind of shine a light on that. And you give them that insight that makes them turn their attention to thinking. Actually, we need to solve this, then they’re much more likely to do business with the person, the sales person who made that problem.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, rather than being in a situation where they’ve already kind of identified the problem and you’re in a competitive situation with three or four of the companies that they’ve booked a demo with on that on that same day, where, you know, you maybe you’re the fourth company that they’ve they’ve booked a demo with and so you’re already down the pecking order. You know, give me the Give me the options where they’re not looking for something every single time. Because I feel like I’m always gonna be the person that if I do my job correctly, I’m the guy they’re going to want to go with because I’m the one that’s helped them understand the problem and they haven’t even thought about checking out anybody else.

 

Andy Paul  

I mean, I, I agree. You hear me hesitating a little bit, because that’s great. But in those other situations you identified, see, I think that presents the opportunity for you to just go in and kill the competition. I mean, I love those the second situation as well because yeah, I knew that I could crush them because I could create such a positive experience through dealing with me me Yeah, that that, you know, for the most part, it was based on the assumption that, you know, 99% of the other sellers out there are crap. And they somewhat are. And so if you are to your point earlier, you’re willing to work hard willing to do things you need to do in terms of connecting people to human level, activate their interest in your product and so on. It’s actually thinking those competitive situations you can, it’s, it’s as beneficial. And I think that too often we assume that Oh, they’re talking to other people. And that’s gonna be harder. I’m my point as well. If they’re actually to the stage where they’re looking at multiple vendors, then a they’re much more likely to make a decision and be knowing their comeback and like a decision I can really stand out and I just give an example isn’t is a sure I’ve told the story here on the show before but one client I worked with was doing a great job of developing a bunch of inbound leads in a very competitive space, the texts Bass combination of hardware software. And they were server up and comer, but there are some bigger companies in the space. And so I got called with a CEO, he said, Look, you know, we’re getting a bunch of users not doing a very good job of converting these into orders, and looked at the process. And I was like, Well, hey, you’re not doing a very good job of following up on the leads. And, yeah, maybe don’t have the right people following up. So we started going through and so let’s just change this. So went from, you know, maybe half the leads being followed up over the course of three or four days that every lead got followed up within 30 minutes at the time they received it. And we, from somebody who is really good inside a salesperson , really understood the product and technology and the customers. We doubled the size of that company purely on the strength of that sales process because The experience of the buyer was so positive, right, which is, you know, invariably people wanted to see a demo. And so if they’d have a salesperson call back within 30 minutes, they get them more likely to get the person on the phone because they’re calling back quickly. That walkthrough discovery, these were we moved most of the sales, pure salespeople out and moved engineers into sales roles. But so they could instantly build a bond at a common level with the people they’re speaking with. And about 30 minutes into the call. You know, the buyer said, Oh, this looks really great to see, you know, could we get a demo of the software? And yeah, so I just trained him to say no, but we can do it right now. Yeah. And so Nope, can’t schedule one but I could do one right now. So invariably, large majority cases within 45 minutes to an hour. That company was three quarters away through their selling process. Yeah, the influence and the trust that built the interest in the product that built all the things you need to have. Did I call it constant influence? They built within an hour. Oftentimes their competitors are the bigger guys who weren’t calling back for three, four days. Yeah. And we found this even when we found an incredible account penetration strategy into competitive accounts. Because a lot of times customers had to get a couple bids, right. Even if they had installed or a current vendor, they get a competitive bid. We just crushed them on that just based on the experience of dealing with the company and the selling process. So long story, I agree with you. I mean, I like that. But yeah, give me a good competitive situation. I’ll just be better than everybody else. And you train your people to do it.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, yeah. No, very, very fair. All your input forward. on what you pretty much hinted there is. So much of sales is just being different to a lot of other people out there and I say this to my team. All the time even though you know the SDRs prospecting all you do is just be different to the rest because guess what the rest aren’t very good and there’s more noise out there than ever before. But the benefit of that means it’s easy to stand out. It’s easy to catch your buyer’s attention. You just have to do things the right way and you only do things the right way if you coach and help your sales people do things the right way.

 

Andy Paul  

So encourage the right instincts. I agree. I think that the for me was is coming up and I don’t know if I was encouraged to just I don’t remember at this point courage to do it or I just since I didn’t really have sort of a conventional sales or commercial background to become a salesperson I maybe I developed it because I feeling uncomfortable. But for me as always about one of the things I could do that was completely under my control that would make a difference for the buyer. And for me, the First main things I sort of glommed on throughout my entire career and I’ve written about this extensively is responsiveness is, you know, if I could be the first respond to a phone call the first respond to an email, if I could first understand the problems, you know, it’s it’s first and fast makes a difference. And unfortunately, in sales so many people misinterpreted that to say, Oh, well, you know, if you just pick up the phone to call somebody back and you don’t know anything, well, of course, right? responsiveness as I defined is you being fast with value. And if you’re fast with value, then you’re in a golden position. And the thing is it’s completely under your control. I mean, do you need to learn more about your product, learn more about your product, right need know your customers better learn more about your customer so that when you get back quickly, you can help do a better discovery call. You can better understand what you need to do to respond to move them to the next, the next step. But again, it’s all within your control. It doesn’t matter. Anything with your product or your pricing or your features? It’s you.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, classic sales phrase times the biggest killer of deals. And that stems from even that lead coming in to the time between your discovery of your demo, as you pointed out before. The more the more days between those different interactions with customers the risk of that deal going south increases, because yes, while people get busy with other things, your next appointment is the one that gets moved off the schedule. You’re now in chase mode as a salesperson. It’s the quicker you can accelerate people through the pipeline again, so much of it is in your control. And I think what I see is that they’re almost like self limiting beliefs and salespeople. Hmm. You know, if they get someone’s interest on the phone, the prospects are ready to book an appointment. And how often does the salesperson try to boot that appointment for that afternoon or the next day and what they naturally Do a sale, what is what next week looks like? Because they feel like they’re asking too much of their prospect to get to boot that next conversation you know 24 hours later and and and they don’t need to do it they just have this belief in their head that oh, I need to give the prospect seven days breathing space. Yeah. And again that the risk of that next appointment falling off the schedule is just instantly increasing. Every every doubt you put it

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, why I agree 100% that you must have read my first book zero time selling which I talked about this specifically I I call that the indecent interval. And, yeah, it’s just oral tradition. Right or it’s it comes from somewhere, right. It’s sort of in the ether for salespeople is, you know, I sent somebody a page long quote, they must take a week to reserve a page long quote. No, they’ve looked at it in five minutes. Say Can I call you back this afternoon? Let’s review it. I mean, let’s go. Yeah, just it. To your point precisely, it’s you starting adding this cumulative time lag. And I’m a huge believer in that. Why is that a conference backstory? So I was at a conference and sales conferences hosted by a fairly prominent person who is making this point and says that yeah, i. So we have all these review sites now where people can review salespeople and this is what we should do if we should have something we can review buyers, right. And, you know, and I’m, yeah, these buyers are taking too long to make decisions. And I went up to him afterwards. I said, Yeah, just FYI. I don’t think there is a slow buyer. I think they’re slow sellers. Yeah. And yes, there are instances where customers do delay and so on, but in the main, again, my experience has shown me across the board is that we as sellers, the limiting factor, For our buyers, is that if there’s a model that psychologists came up with for adapting change, and there’s a couple different versions of it sort of five or six steps that somebody has to go through to adapt this idea of making a change, and that what the science has shown is that they don’t move from one stage of the decision making process to the next till they fulfilled information requirements for the one preceding it. So, if the customer is slowed down, chances are it’s on you. You haven’t given them the information they need to move to the next stage.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, I think this all ties back to something I’ve been talking a lot about recently, is this whole concept of doctor patient relationship in sales and how you should be seen as a doctor your prospect is the is the patient and this stem from Mark rubbish You’re a former zero, you described the real issue in it. And it makes so much sense. And I’ll come on to how this is tied into what you just said there, Andy? Because typically what happens if you wait when you go see the doctor, you listen to everything that they tell you that you don’t, you don’t argue back, you don’t bother with them, you don’t tell them what next steps should be the doctors telling you what next steps are, you’re going to get this medication and you’re going to take it three times a week, and you’re going to come back in a month’s time and you listen and you you respond to that, and you didn’t you pay attention to that. And that’s how that’s that’s how sellers should be selling. But what happens is they put all the control in their buyer’s hand, they get to their end of the discovery calls and rather than saying, okay, we’ve we’ve identified we can help you in these two or three areas. What happens next now is you’re gonna speak with John and Mary, and we’re going to involve them in the next conversation where we’re going to. I’m going to actually present how we can solve these specific issues. And they said, that’s the doctor patient relationship and you’re taking the prospect by the hand and guy guiding them through your selling process, not their buying process you’re selling. And what, what a lot of sellers do is they get to the end of that discovery call and they say, Oh, so what do you think the next steps should be? They hand over the control of the prospect and the prospect is kind of, they’re not used to binding things. And so they don’t really know. And so they kind of guess and say, Oh, well, I think I need to go away and have some internal conversations. And then I think we need to just, you know, look at budgets and I think, you know, maybe we can, you know, speak in a couple weeks time and the the suddenly the buy is kind of that that sales cycle is being extended, because they’re not in control that sales process, they’ve let the customer become the doctor. And anyway to your point is coming back to the reason that sales cycles are often so long, it’s not because of the customer going slow. It’s because the salesperson is handing over the reins of control and not being a doctor that that prescriber of this is every This is what happens at every step of the journey. And I think part of that is because a lot of companies don’t have really, one they don’t have really strong sales processes that salespeople follow. But secondly, they’re not spending enough time actually listening to how their salespeople are actually selling and, therefore , are aware that this is happening.

 

Andy Paul  

Okay, well, that’s a great segue into talking about refract unbidden as a matter of fact. So insert raises a question, it’s so may just hold the question just may tell people about what refract does if they’re not familiar and, and we’ll jump into that.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, sure. So the reason that we created refract was in the main that’d be it. The idea was from our own experiences of if I take myself as a fresh salesperson as a fresh SDR Really not having the benefit of anybody listening to my conversations how I was selling over the phone, I was trying to book meetings. Nobody coaching me, nobody giving me feedback on how I can improve and, and really just me just winging it, me making tons of mistakes, trying to figure out how to make a cold call when I’ve never made one before. And probably as a result, being far less successful and making far less money than I perhaps could have in my career. And yet, you know, this problem of, you know, managers and companies not actually investing time listening to how their salespeople sell to help increase the, the outcomes that they have is actually we found is a big problem. Sure. managers and leadership, not investing time in my opinion. Probably, a lot of that is excuses, but that’s another side of the story, but not having the time to spend listening to how their salespeople sell. On MRI not not having maybe even the skill set to coach that reps on how to have better conversations too many managers make and coaching decisions behind dashboards and CRM saying, you know, you see you only made 20 calls yet last yesterday. That’s the problem. You need to make phone calls without actually understanding what’s on those calls. So refract is the kind of solution to those problems, then giving insights in the effort for leadership for sales reps into the conversations that are happening, the voice of the customer, and ultimately helping companies improve those conversations through a range of coaching tools. And when we have better conversations, we have better conversions and drive more sales success,

 

Andy Paul  

Right. So to be more specific, people listening if they didn’t really, this is the conversational intelligence category of what we talked about before. Lots of it’s a competitive space. A lot of companies coming into it over the last several years is how are you differentiating yourself other than through the great sales experience or working with your team? How does refract differentiate themselves from gone course ring DNA? Yeah, sure. Dialpad whomever?

 

Richard Smith  

So, first of all, I think not brushing over its key really is to differentiate our space, in my opinion, it’s not just through technology. This is an emerging technology. A lot of companies have never had anything like this before. A lot of companies don’t really know how to make best use of it. Right. So a lot of time and effort we spend is on the, I guess the post sale from a customer success point of view, helping companies understand what’s going on in the conversations, helping them understand trends. happening in sales calls that perhaps they’re not tuned into, and really providing those recommendations of how they can, you know, search for the right things and calls. And we’ve also combined. When we think about coaching, I kind of break it into two things. Think about salespeople. First of all, you’ve got kind of what happens if we use the football analogy. And how a lot of managers in that space coach, they’ll, they’ll coach their reps on what happened in the game, that kind of the game tip in reality, but actually, before you get to the game, you actually are, you also have to practice, you have to train for those situations. So within our technology, we’ve built in some elements of practice, really helping reps, get comfortable and prepared for asking better questions, handling objections, whatever they may be, making sure you know, they feel comfortable and warmed up before they go into those conversations. And some of the kind of the realms that we’re moving into is, and again, six Speaking back to the challenges of managers being at times challenged to coach Nicole’s, right is, is looking at things like triggered learning experiences. So based on what’s going on in a conversation, automating what happens next, the kind of feedback and learning that can be given to a salesperson within their sales calls without, without the reliance on always having didn’t have that input from the manager.

 

Andy Paul  

I mean, like having questions surfaced in real time during the call, for instance, or

 

Richard Smith  

It’s more based on things that were maybe spoken about in a sales call. Maybe it’s about the competition, maybe it’s around a product question, right? You look at the answer being delivered that content and that education almost straight off of the course finished

 

Andy Paul  

After, not during the call, though,

 

Richard Smith  

Not during the call.

 

Andy Paul  

Because that’s certainly the direction some people in this space are headed as is how do we real time provide? questions based on the words are spoken during the conversation, provide questions, yeah, show information or something.

 

Richard Smith  

It’s definitely like I’m seeing that trend. And it’s I think it’s a very complex place to be in because if I’m a salesperson on a live call, and The point is in the real time feedback that you automate has to be so bang on the money. And otherwise, it just becomes a false distraction, perhaps for the salesperson when they’re in that conversation. So I think there’s a lot of complexities

 

Andy Paul  

Around that. And I think the biggest one, my concern is, is that when inevitably it’s happening, it is happening already, but is that I think we run the risk of using this in a, you know, very nice fashion. It’s creating you know, generation of salespeople, just

 

Richard Smith  

Robots.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, kinda kind of dumb. Right? Because they don’t have to think. Because Yeah, if the information being, you know, asked this as this SS Yeah, I get concerned about that because then and become more robotic to your point.

 

Richard Smith  

No, I totally agree. And actually, I think a lot about getting better in sales is actually making mistakes. It is understanding where you went wrong and putting it right. Next time around. And, yeah, to your point I, I totally agree. And I think that’s why when you start doing that you take away maybe the human element Hmm. In a sales conversation relationship between two people. Because nobody wants to. Nobody wants to have a conversation with a robot. They want to have a conversation with somebody that’s human, but they also trust, right. So, so yeah, so

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, well question for you. So, so much of the emphasis of this is getting back to it. The doctor patient thing you’ve talked about before? Is it because this is a part of Sir fascinates me and I think we ignore that. It seems like so much of the emphasis in the conversational intelligence space even though a conversation by definition is bi directional is that it’s all about what the rep says. And I don’t see enough emphasis on listening. Right? I haven’t. I’ve read all these articles talked all the plots people, obviously on the show and and I’ve never really heard him and said, Well, yeah, we’re using conversational intelligence or to help our people learn how to listen better, because in there’s a great book called blind spots, the hidden biases of good people. And they cite chapter and verse about the fact that we all have these sort of inherent biases that we carry around with us. Not, you know, racism or something, but it could be on a range of topics, but it influences how we hear information. And my wife’s an instructor at NYU School of Medicine and and her daughter gone through the curriculum, there’s a physician now, but she’s talked about one class which is taught where they’ve done research, it’s found that when a doctor goes into an examining room, they sort of consciously have to filter through like, I think it’s like, two dozen biases in order to accurately hear what the person was saying. And that starts with age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, you know, the way their appearance, all these things that have an impact on how they, how they actually listen to what someone is saying, right? Not just hear it, but actually process information.

 

Richard Smith  

Right.

 

Andy Paul  

How do we how do we factor that Add into these conversational intelligence tools say, look, it’s, it’s Yeah, because right now, you know, we’ve got one of our competitors that reliably is banging out all this content saying, We’ve listened to millions of calls and yeah, use these words at this point in time. It’s like, Really? That’s how about hearing better first, that’s not making the assumption we need to use those. What was the context? The words are setting?

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of risk with just taking that kind of data on face value, because I don’t I think first of all, there’s so much context in the sales conversation that goes beyond just, you know, using these specific words and using these words in the first five minutes of a conversation leads to these outcomes. I just think there’s, there’s far too many variables to be living your sales profession by those rules. But actually, a lot of the things you talk about are totally valid. And this is kind of where our technology is going. As well, not just in showing somebody how much they were speaking versus listening on a call, which I guess is the first indicator of that. But what was the customer saying? And I challenge anybody out there to, you know, record one of their conversations, they help with a prospect. Listen back to that call afterwards without any distractions and I guarantee you will hear things that you didn’t hear the first time around, guarantee it. And so much of this is it’s it’s tough. It’s like active listening as it’s described as the probably the hardest skill to master in sales, when people truly understand what active listening actually is. So some of the things that where this technology is going is being able to show what were the emotive nuggets as I described them, these are the little words and phrases that are sometimes just quietly dropped into a conversation by a prospect that a salesperson may not have picked up on being able to try Trigger when those words were spoken in the coal, where as a salesperson we weren’t aware, we just weren’t tuned in, or even show me the conversations where the salesperson was asking at least this many questions or show me the cause where the prospect was asking this many questions. And this this all ties into, we want to, we want to alert and highlight to salespeople where then they’re not picking up on things in calls, they’re not picking up on everything that ultimately could be the route to deal success because when they’re tuned in there, they pick up on the buying signals and the missed opportunities, and that helps them get back on the phone with the prospect and actually, you know, bring that in the conversation. But yeah, also,

 

Andy Paul  

I’m sorry, as a question I’m sorry interrupt is, is this idea of Talktime ratio is? Is there a possibility that we have it all wrong? And I say this from the perspective of, yes, we look at everything from a seller standpoint, which is, we want to be asking questions that has the customer talking about their needs and requirements. But then we look at the customer’s agenda during those same calls. Much as we say, Look, I’m in meeting with this prospect because I’m trying to gather information. Hey, they’re saying, look, we’ve got Richard Smith coming in from refract, we want to get some information from Richard. It’s like, Yeah, why wouldn’t if you were the buyer, assuming you had a similar system for the buyer, and the buyer is looking at their calls. They’re going Oh, that wasn’t a very good call, because I spoke more than they did. And I was there to gather information from them.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, no, it really. And again, this comes back to conversation data at face value, is it’s not enough and this is what we tell customers all the time. If a prospect said to me Sir Richard, tell me what is the optimum listing ratio? What is the optimum number of questions and I kind of say, it will be wrong of me to tell you that because every situation is different. Every company is different from me selling conversation intelligence software, that conversation is going to sound very different to the person down the road who’s selling million pound real estate, because it’s different buyers and different personalities. And sometimes customers want to learn as well as you know, they expect the seller to give them more information. And so that it absolutely has to have context. But still, this is why we tell people all the time, don’t make judgments based on just what the date of the day is to give you leading insights, but so much of the context comes into, you know, what the conversation sounded like? And I think this is where there’s definitely a challenge that we face. And I think, ultimately, I will still stand by however the golden rules that in certain types of conversations if, if the data is showing that the salesperson was speaking for 80% of the time, then they probably they probably didn’t learn enough from the prospect or get enough engagement for the prospect, but I, you know, there’s a certain You know, there are barriers there which which will give much more telling indicators that in general, we should be listening to the conversations to get the context.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah. I got asked a similar question not that long ago about, you know, the right bounce, I gave an answer, sir. A non sequitur. I said, Yeah. 75% win, right. And then go look at right, whatever, whatever is working for you. Keep doing it. I mean, yes. Everybody has a different style, and you’ve touched us before and I think this is the best. I think that these tools become so important. The conversational intelligence tools become important as coaching the individual, to the individual not saying, here’s the standard, this is what Michael Jordan does, therefore, everybody should act like Michael Jordan. And unfortunately, that’s sort of the rush. And you sort of saw the lowest common denominator for usage, which is being driven oftentimes by the content companies are putting out which is, you know, use these words about data. And therefore, that something becomes the model that they want everybody to, to migrate and gravitate toward. And, you know, if you’re going to apply this and say, Look, here’s best practice, across the board, everybody needs to be coached, that’s best practice. That’s just that you’re gonna get a bad result. That’s false. And that’s probably controversial. People listen to this. Not everybody is unique, use these tools to coach people to better their own performance in the context relative to their own performance, not relative to whatever else is doing.

 

Richard Smith  

And I think when we think about coaching, coaching is all about not trying to transform everybody across so many different skills and behaviors, it’s finding the one area that can be tuned. And, and that can be, you know, that can be different across everybody. And this is when I get asked the question, what’s the difference between training and coaching those you know, those words sometimes get using the same, almost as the same, the same word in the same same breath and it’s very easy one is like, you know, training is standing in front of a room and teaching everybody about skills and principles, but it’s Not until you actually coaching the individual level that you, you identify the needs of that specific person. And so I feel like I still hear a lot of that going on out there of people still talking about training and coaching as the same thing as the same things and trying to train the same thing into everybody versus an individual level, huh?

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, no, I agree. Well, I think it’s, it’s worse than that. Because, because, yeah, I differentiate between education and training. And, yeah, we need to educate our reps more, which is part of what this coaching as we’re talking about us as education, you know, how do we, how do we people think it’s not scalable to coach people individually? And, and I just disagree, right? I think that the fact is that if you look at the possible permutations, I haven’t done the math but you know, you’re, you as an individual Richard could Go to work tomorrow and you could speak to one of 7 billion people in the world and no two conversations are ever gonna be like by necessity there’s like they like you’re dealing with some point 5 billion different personalities, how they react to the information you give them as different as we need to use these tools. I think first and foremost is to coach people in adaptability, right as is because we’ve got this huge trend now and sales is and unfortunately encouraged by some of the tools similar to that yet data quote, unquote data tells us this is what you need to do. These are the words you need to use, you need to be like this. When really the world is just 180 degrees from that is it’s like, yeah, and this situation that might be right, but you’re gonna encounter an unknown number of situations. Are you prepared to react appropriately in that situation? Or can you only sell one way if you can only sell one way that You’re dooming yourself to be unsuccessful.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, yep. No, totally. And that’s why I think so much of the value in in tools like ours is actually being able to evaluate lots of different selling situations to sell the same product to different personalities and different types of companies is understanding how those again comes back to the voice of the customer is adapting yourself to the the approaches that the personality of the each individual seller that you’re that you’re that you’re coming across, but just becoming more aware of how to handle call situations better. And you may say different things and different words in those situations. But if you have a general tactic or methodology of how you approach that, that’s the main thing. And and, and again, a scalability of coaching. This is absolutely what technology I was able to do where before as a manager, you would there wasn’t really a strong way of being every, you know, 1010 reps at once. And this is about, you know, helping managers get quicker insights. Okay, these are the conversations you should be paying close attention to and these are the specific parts of the conversation you should be listening to and honing your coaching in. Absolutely. But again, so much actually comes down to the coaching skills of the managers still.

 

Andy Paul  

Yeah, no, I agree.

 

All right. Well, unfortunately run out of time, but this great conversation. I didn’t get to hear the questions I was gonna ask you, but hey, we had a great conversation. So tell folks how to learn more about refract and how to get in contact with you.

 

Richard Smith  

Yeah, sure. So feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m quite active there.