Wayne Cerullo, Chief Prospect Officer at B2P Partners, joins me on this episode.
Andy Paul 0:00
Hey friends, this is Andy. Welcome to Episode 727 of Accelerate!, The sales podcast of record. Hey, I have another great episode lined up for you this week. Joining me as my guest is Wayne Cirillo, Wayne As the chief prospect officer at B to P partners, and today we’re gonna be talking about the danger that sellers face by putting too much of their focus and a too much of their faith on data in sales and the process diverting their attention and the focus away from actual prospects that are trying to help. There’s a lot being written these days about, really the dangers of substituting data for your own judgment. And not just in sales, but all sorts of fields. But this is especially the case I think, in sales because we see data itself being presented without really relevant context without controlling any variables. And we see too many overly broad conclusions being drawn. So Wayne and I are going to dig into why sellers instead of trusting their expertise, trusting their experience are increasingly becoming dependent on numbers. We’ll discuss the limitations of quantitative data and try to get to the answer what is the real purpose of The data we have in sales, what’s the real use we should be having for the data and sales. And we’ll talk some about marketing as well and make sure we don’t leave them out of the picture. Alright, let’s jump into it. Wayne, welcome to the show.
Wayne Cerullo 3:27
Hey, glad to be here.
Andy Paul 3:29
It’s good to see you. You’re joining us from where today.
Wayne Cerullo 3:32
I’m on the left side of the country near Mount Diablo in sunny california. And
Andy Paul 3:41
politically or geographically. They’re both right.
Wayne Cerullo 3:44
It’s Yeah, it’s a double entendre. I’ve lived on both coasts. I’ve also lived in Paris. So I’ve been in New York, Paris in San Francisco and been able to see marketing from A lot of different vantage points as well.
Andy Paul 4:02
Well tell people a little bit about what you’re doing.
Wayne Cerullo 4:05
Yeah. So after working with a number of companies and a number of agencies in the b2b space, I started a consultancy called B to p, which has the mission of helping marketers and sales people become more focused on the people who are their prospects. It’s admission about you’re saying
Andy Paul 4:31
they’re saying they’re not.
Wayne Cerullo 4:34
Hmm, yeah. Could be. Why don’t
Andy Paul 4:37
You can be a director.
Wayne Cerullo 4:39
Yeah, so So Andy, one of the things that I’m seeing and one of the things that I appreciate in the work that you’re doing is that we’re in a stage right now where in marketing and in sales, and I’m a marketing guy, so I apologize in advance. But I’m seeing this both in the marketing world as well as in sales. That humanity is getting squeezed out of us, I think as the data tends to drown us, and I think we’re honestly suffering from a data delusion. And I mean that in two ways, one that, that the data is overwhelming us in a day’s loss of numbers. And the other is that we are drowning in what we are looking at. We’re focused on the pipes instead of the water in the pipes. And that’s the people that we’re looking to engage to help solve problems we otherwise call selling. Mm hmm.
Andy Paul 5:45
So the impact isn’t the impact of that then from your perspective, is this focus on the data rather than than the people let’s say that are generating it. What’s what is that impact that you’re seeing? You say squeezing humanity out of it. what’s what’s that look like?
Wayne Cerullo 6:03
Yeah. So Andy, I just came from the MAR tech West. Talk in which Scott Brinker revealed that there are now 7040 Mar tech companies.
Andy Paul 6:21
I think we need more, don’t you? Cuz we all, we all we all, we all should have our own Mar tech company.
Wayne Cerullo 6:29
That’s right. You don’t. Sorry. In fact, you know, if you do the math as we’re speaking in the other martech company is being boarded before, before we’re done. There’ll be a you know, 4043
Andy Paul 6:43
Well, but take that number and say, okay, almost all of this has occurred, or certainly over the last 10 years and really over the last five. So we’re talking about no more than 1000 new companies. Did he say why? companies think they’re trying to enter this market.
Wayne Cerullo 7:03
Well, I can’t speak to that. But what I can speak to is the experience of b2b marketing and sales people on this day. And that’s that we are particularly on the marketing side where I believe being distracted from the work that we really need to do. We are a company that helps companies understand better marketing and sales people that understand better who their prospects are, why they buy and why they don’t. That’s fundamentally what we help with and you can’t manage what you don’t know. So we help people to better know the people that they’re trying to attract into convert. So in the process of doing that, I realized that the conversations I’ve been having with marketers in the last few years as you were mentioning, just let’s say the last three years have become
And I have to say this from my own perspective we needed to do for ourselves the work that we do for our clients. And so over the last year we’ve done research with a wide variety of b2b marketers to better understand what is the marketing experience like these days. And from
Andy Paul 8:25
the philosophy from whose perspective
Wayne Cerullo 8:26
from the marketers perspective, Mr. Grogan likes to be you know, rather than rather than talking with beaten like to be as our clients, talk with them as our subject right now. And so one of the things that we found is that not surprisingly, the nature of marketing is fundamentally changing. And more and more of marketing is program management. You’re running a data program, you’re running a series of campaigns and You are focusing on the data that comes from that because of the focus on ROI. All of that is good. The part of it that’s sinister with the bad is that or hidden, that is that we are less, we have less opportunity to focus on the people that we are trying to help as prospects. And I suspect that’s true on the sales side as well. And you can tell me better, but we have been hearing that and it’s been reported that the largest thing that marketers spend time and money on these days is marketing technology. Did you know Andy that more than spending money on people more than spending money on media marketers are spending money on technology
It’s the number one. Marketing expenditure.
Andy Paul 10:04
Hmm, that doesn’t. doesn’t surprise me. You’re saying more than ad spend? Yes. Oh, okay. That’s all surprising. Yeah.
Wayne Cerullo 10:13
Yeah, it’s literally true.
Andy Paul 10:16
but you can start to stand that those I think that this is I think we’re seeing replicate and sales as well as is. Yeah, it lets you sort of put the blame somewhere else, right? Because we’re using this technology, we’re using the system. And we follow the advice we get from these experts how to use it. And if it doesn’t work, well, we did what they told us to. And I think to a point, I think your cert driving as an recommendation is wrong, but is that to me, one of the artifacts, I see one of the things that’s happening with sales, certainly I believe it’s happening in marketing as well, because you’re talking about these odd conversations. Is that you no longer can have a conversation where someone says, Well, this is what my experience tells me. This is what my gut tells me based on 1015 2030 years of experiences What? It’s not what are the numbers say,
Wayne Cerullo 11:16
in the numbers are your daddy Indians will both acknowledge but you’re right. What we lose sight of is that when we say data, the image that goes in our mind without even being aware of it, is quantification. And there’s a number of limitations to quantitative data. And I’m a quiet guy. So I’m totally happy to have numbers. But they’re not the only data that exists. It’s not the only important information and a lot of our quantitative data is misleading. I’ve heard you talk about this with other salespeople that if you look simply at transactional data Out of how many calls did you make? How much was your average time spent on the phone? What it does is it turns us all into automatons without action with out of focus on what the real meaning of the data is. And I know this has happened in marketing, that the prospect is actually gotten lost in the SQL, SQL
mishegoss It’s a technical term that is
Andy Paul 12:29
that’s a good one. Yeah.
Wayne Cerullo 12:31
And what we’ve done is we’ve lost the buyer and I say this because the work that we do is fundamentally to represent a buyer in the process. I have spoken personally with thousands of b2b buyers, about what it is that they’re looking for in the process, whether we call it marketing or sales. And one of the things I have to say I humbly realized after several years is that none of these people wants to buy anything, that fundamentally what they want is the problem that they’re trying to solve to go away. And buying something is frankly, the least of their options, the least attractive of their options. They would like it to be a problem that’s episodic, and that it would just Disappear magically.
Andy Paul 13:24
And they had like, magical unicorns come solve it.
Wayne Cerullo 13:27
And they’d like somebody else in the company, take responsibility for it. So the last thing is that you need to now be part of a large and growing, you know, buying team that needs to go out and spend more time that you don’t have talking to more vendors that you haven’t met, meeting with more sales people having more conversations in order to solve a problem that still hasn’t gone away. Yet, the reality we have to come back to and now how are we going to help them? How are sales People going to bring value to that experience?
Andy Paul 14:03
Well, first of all they have to understand. And I’ll sort of not spin what you said, but I’m gonna put out low shine on it perhaps is that what buyers want is buyers very simply, and when somebody has a problem, or they got to change they need to make or an objective they’re trying to achieve and it requires buying a solution. And this is a thing that salespeople just don’t understand is that and really, it starts with the leaders more than salespeople. But it is that buyers want to quickly gather information to make a good decision with the least investment of time and effort possible. This is what they want. And so your selling process should be aligned to help them achieve that. Instead, we create the sales processes that are really orthogonal in most respects to this mission the buyer has because it’s about what we have sellers think we need and you just have to keep it’s very simple buyer, the buyer is trying to something extremely simple, quickly gather information, make a good decision, not the best decision, we could spend an hour on that. They’re not trying to make the best decision. They’re trying to make the good enough decision with the least investment of time and effort possible. If you can keep that in mind as a seller, that can inform your mission and your process and how you interact with the buyer. But no, no, we want to have these elaborate sales processes that satisfy some internal need. But to your point, don’t help the buyer.
Wayne Cerullo 15:41
Any that’s a profound insight and it builds on to other observations that we made in this research about how b2b marketing has changed. It not only has become program management, but it also has become the least in the b2b SAAS world. Change Management. Fundamentally, our role as marketers and salespeople is to help a buyer not just buy our technology, but fundamentally to change the way business is done in their company. Whoa, did I just like, make? This is now a much larger conversation? Oh, But wait, there’s more. The other part of this is that marketing has become not just program management and change management, but it’s become consensus management. Because the buying process that you just talked about at the end doesn’t occur in the singular. It never occurs in the singular, right, at least it involves five people. And at the most, there’s some data that says that it involves up to 21 people. Yeah, I mean, so
Andy Paul 16:52
that is all the demands of the company.
Wayne Cerullo 16:55
Yeah, yeah. It needs to happen. It’s a very public decision, Andy, that That what I’m doing as a as a buyer is, as one of many buyers is I’m making the public decision with my colleagues, that’s going to last long after, you know, my conversation with a sales representative or with a reading, you know, a piece of content. It’s, I’m going to continue to be working with these people who are in my company may include my boss or something, some other person with whom I have some sort of political relationship, who knows the context that’s going on here. So, marketing and sales need to work together more effectively to navigate through this labyrinth of relationships, that is becoming larger as the buying groups are becoming more diverse. And as a result, business as usual and he is leading us into us in nereo where closing is and you look at the research, the number of lost deals is increasing, the length of the consideration process is increasing. And it’s becoming harder to do what we’ve, what was hard to do in the first place. So the way that we’re currently doing things is not taking us to where we need to go. And I think in this case, the data or the focus on quantity, quantification of the process is actually distracting us from the real work that we need to be doing.
Andy Paul 18:35
Well, I think, Yeah, I agree with that. For the most part, I think the thing that is missing from this whole equation, and it’s true about Mark tech that’s true about sales technology, is that first of all, from a data standpoint, there is no metric blah blindly that exists for the buyer experience and the buyer. progress through their buying process. Now we are on the sales side, we’ve got our linear stage based process, we have exit criteria forever stage, yada, yada, yada, doesn’t reflect the buyer experience at all. And so we’re really completely unaware of really, in this really complex process you decide and gardeners don’t do a tremendous amount of research on this. And released in the fall their bio buyer enablement study, which had a map of what the buyer process looked like, which is what Brent Adamson calls the bowl of spaghetti is, you know, it’s anything but a linear process. We really don’t have a metric for gauging where they are in this process. Because it’s a recursive process. It’s, it’s not linear, it’s, it’s complicated. Lots of people involved. And so absent that, you know, we’re sort of shooting in the dark. And then we get to our technologies and our technologies, our marketing technology, our sales technology. And I, on this show I’ve interviewed literally hundreds of founders and CEOs of tools, companies and so on. And the question they all have a hard time answering is, okay. Great, your tools are interesting. But how does your tool help the buyer complete their mission? And it’s not, you know, CRM doesn’t help the buyer. The sales technology or engagement platforms, everything else. They’re great tools from a seller. But the point is, they’re not having an impact in terms of increasing productivity in a true sense for our sellers. And I like maybe you’ve seen this, but I have not seen any bit of data that says that fundamentally, salespeople today, if we adjust for inflation, are generating more revenue per person than salespeople did 10 1520 3040 years ago. And so we’ve had this overlay of all this technology. I think it’s so the point we’re getting to in this data. It’s not that it’s inherently bad. We just don’t know how to use it yet to affect the outcomes that we want.
Wayne Cerullo 21:11
It’s a good observation and the one of the tools that we use in, you know, I think any responsible company ought to do is a serious independent look at the forensics behind accounts that they’ve won and that accounts that they’ve lost. And I would say rather than accounts that they’ve lost, I’d say it counts they didn’t win, because 60% of b2b engagements and in no decision, so that’s our number one competitor, whoever you are, lack of action, lack of consensus, lack of motion, and think how, how frustrating that is from the buyers perspective of my god. I’m not
Andy Paul 21:55
sure it is because I think the buyers make that decision earlier in the process. salespeople think. And so I think I think and Mike, I believe this to my core, I don’t just think this is based on my experience selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of orders, and especially some large, complex or really huge organizations is decisions and there’s research that substantiates this, there’s research about decision making it takes place in sort of two steps. First one is yes or no. Are we gonna do it or not? Right? And then the second one is we’re going to do it with Well, if you have no decision, that means they never made that first yes or no. Meaning we didn’t make the case compelling enough for them to say, yeah, based on everybody we’ve spoken to so far. Right? Before we even select a vendor, we haven’t heard enough to convince us that we can achieve the outcomes we want to achieve at a reasonable ROI or whatever the metric we’re using to measure it. So we’re just not gonna go forward. And yet what happens though, is sellers are running into what they think at the end of their selling process, but the buyer stopped a long time ago. buyer doesn’t mean close to making a decision yet. That’s what that no decision is. It’s early in the process and people want to think and so we, as sellers are wasting this tremendous amount of time because it was such a bad job and qualification that we don’t understand that the customer had already made the decision not to move forward.
Wayne Cerullo 23:20
It’s a great observation Indian actually reflect the work that we’ve done, where we are really focused on the trigger for the consideration. We asked when did this begin and we really probe into this in great detail. Because any problem that a potential buyer is looking to solve was formerly simply a fact of life. It was just the way business is done. It was difficult. It may have cost them something, but until there’s a perception of a solution, there never will be any action. And there never will be any public combined action. So think of what it means for something to become an issue to be solved. It means that an individual needs to see a situation and then they need to gather a group of colleagues together to agree together that they are going to turn this into something that the company ought to solve. That one sentence included a lot of time, a lot of political capital, a lot of meetings, a lot of engagements. So, understanding what is the business case behind this scenario, the situation and what is the evidence that we can overcome it and what is your strategy for overcoming it is really important and One of the ways that we have documented lots of people find out that something can be solved is they talk with salespeople, and they say, so here’s our situation, what do you got? And that may look like a prospect, but that’s actually someone looking to see whether there’s a business case to be made, do we? Is it likely that we can solve this problem in an agreeable amount of time and money and effort? And that’s the first question that needs to get answered. And it’s, it’s also the last question that needs to get answered before the contract gets signed. So yeah, you’re right. It is messy. And so if you don’t do that serious, independent wind loss, look at what the patterns are, in the deals that you’ve done. You’re going to be missing a lot of intelligence.
Andy Paul 25:56
No, I agree. I agree. I mean, I
Yeah, a huge, fervent advocate that you know, you can point almost any issue that you have with sales sort of prospecting, you know, once you once you have somebody that you’re speaking with, and you look at your close rate and say we lost for this reason we lost for this reason someone’s for it. You can trace all of them back to discovering qualification,
no qualification and disqualification. It just becomes so critical. So you have to because you’re not gonna be a fit, right? There’s this obsession with objection handling and so on and sales. And the fact is that, you know, the primary issue is you have to have a product market fit, and you’re not a fit for everyone. Some things aren’t objections, there’s Facts of Life, you’re not a good fit for these people. Don’t try to spend time handling the objection, go find the prospect that’s a better fit for you. And to your point about so many opportunities ending up and no decision. We weren’t they weren’t fit. We weren’t making the case that they could say, yeah, we’ve got to infer enough information now to say, we’re going to go forward and make a decision. And we’re going to talk to these vendors and make a choice about who we’re gonna make the change with. So they didn’t make the decision to change. Again, that’s so much time and effort and sales have spent and you know, there’s lots of reasons why we don’t have time to get into Now, going tracing all the way down, you know, how we incentivize and measure performance for salespeople and for managers. But it’s such a critical point as we just have to, to, to your point is really understand our customers the experience they’re going through. And I think one thing that’s really missing is how do we measure that? How do we accurately measure that as sellers as marketers, what what the customer thinks about us right now, and how far into their process they are?
Wayne Cerullo 27:56
That’s a great question. That is Pre quantitative form can be answered on unveiled addresses in doing win loss work. And one of the additional areas that we have found in this process that’s broken is in a sense, the handoff, we would from the inside say is the handoff, from marketing to sales, where there’s some sort of messaging that got the prospect on an inbound basis, let’s say engaged with the company. And then there’s another set of conversations that happens in the sales process. And one of the places where the buyer experiences the box here is broken is that handoff between the messaging of marketing and the messaging of sales. One of the things that we have started doing to help bridge that and to help get the best benefit of buyer intelligence both from the sales side and the marketing side is to look at aligning those messages. We look at identifying what messages seem to be working among the best sales performers in closing prospects successfully. What are those messages? And how do those relate to the messages that marketing is using, and they’re often not that well aligned. So if you could align them better, then you could, and this is, I think, a beautiful thing for sales and marketing alignment, to actually come together around a better understanding and better serving the prospect. So we enable a conversation that heretofore hasn’t happened that looks at buyer intelligence from both the sales perspective and the marketing perspective together. So it’s kind of like that. to parents and D coming together and saying, Well, you know, we may disagree on a lot of things, but at least we’re agreed on, you know, raising our kids. Well, and so how can we work together to make that happen?
Andy Paul 30:15
Yeah, I think it’s a little different. I think the way it currently works, and I’ll stick with your parent analogy, it’s as if one parent says, Well, I’ll take them from birth to six, and you’ll take from six to adolescence. Right. And, and that’s problematic, right. And so I think what I agree about the alignment of the messaging, but I think what is more important is to sort of take that a step further and say, Look, really what marketing is doing from a messaging standpoint, is setting the table. And what sales need to do is build on that messaging because necessarily what the prospect wants once they’re in sales, his hands is a different level and depth of information that they need in order to proceed. But yeah, the the buyers there because I saw something in marketing that that attracted them and opened up this conversation assuming as an inbound, or even if they’d seen ads and they responded to an outbound outreach, but but it’s to me it’s the setting the table and then the continuity is important where we fall off. And again, not sure we have enough time to go through all this today, but is where we fall off is one of the issues we talked about early on is then let’s want to sit on the sales we’ll say okay, can they provide the value that will enable the buyer to make that initial go no go decision and having made that then be able to get them across the finish line, because the goal for sellers nothing if they think about this quick, you know, in the right fashion, the buyers are trying to quickly gather information, make good decisions. That first decision is how we’re going to change or not. They’re gonna make that based on some information you provide that enables them to have enough insight to say, yeah, if we proceed, yeah, we’ll be able to achieve our outcomes with this type of solution. They base that decision on somebody’s product. And so for me, I always want that to be me. So I, I, I, I front loaded as much of the value quote unquote, as I could into the selling process early on. So discovery became critical and be very precise and really understand what the one true thing is that was driving the decision. qualify them against my product and services offering and be the one that was making that. That first decision about that was their vision of mind was my solution. And if you can do that, then you’re pretty golden.
Wayne Cerullo 32:46
The last area to build on that, Andy, that we’ve seen where things break down is the lack of consistency and focus in The handoff from marketing to sales, no sales playbooks have become more common these days. Unfortunately, they often mean it’s the, the bin in which all the marketing material stuff to use the technical term is dumped to use another technical term. And what we if we really take seriously that sales is service in that we are bringing value right from the beginning to our prospects who want to solve a solution solve a problem, then the sales playbook ought to be the place where the best of buyer practices, I’m sorry of seller practices is combined with insights from the buying process. So when we put together a sales playbook, it is not simply the repository of all the marketing stuff that’s available. It’s actually the buying experience as though buyers had designed it themselves. And that comes from having spoken with a bunch of them. And they’re standing what they want and speaking with a bunch of sellers, the best sales performers and understanding what works. So putting those together becomes an incredibly powerful tool that then allows what you were just talking about to happen more consistently, and for the best of the buying and the selling practices, and the best of the buyer insights to come together into a consistent experience.
Andy Paul 34:47
Yeah, and I think the challenge to that, and we’ll wrap up with this one because we’re running out of time here, but unfortunately it is that as Gartner pointed out in their research is that for you know, most of these purchases. Again, if we’re talking about a product or service that some of the company makes once every five years or someone, they don’t have a process, and whatever research you’ve done into creating your playbook about all this is what they always do. They don’t always do it because it’s unique every time they do it. And so increasingly, I think that the playbooks are much more flexible, because part of the job of the seller is going to have to be going in and really helping the buyer learn how to buy and learn how they buy, because they don’t know. I mean, they haven’t documented you know, if we buy a CRM system every 10 years, there’s no documented process for buying a CRM system. And this is our replicated so i think you know, Gartner really hit on it, and I think it’s a key thing for sellers that need to really think about is instead of doubling down on fixed playbooks, it’s like you’re saying that situations are unique, and you’re gonna have to be very flexible in terms of how you adopt them. You Use them, update them and so on, based on the situation. So, Wayne, it’s been fantastic. We’re unfortunately running out of time. We have to do this again.
Wayne Cerullo 36:10
Amen. Yeah. You know what, probably the issues that we’re talking about aren’t gonna go away. So we can update this at some point.
Andy Paul 36:19
No, no, that’s a whole separate conversation about why can’t we make some of these fundamental sales problems just disappear given we’ve been doing this now for 130 years? You think we should be able to? So I’m putting a whole separate conversation, one podcast at
Wayne Cerullo 36:35
Any time Andy
Andy Paul 36:36
yeah, one podcast on email, so on. All right, well, Wayne, tell folks how they can get in touch with you.
Wayne Cerullo 36:43
Sure. So the information that I’ve referenced can be found at our website at p two p partners.com. And BTP is not b2b, but it’s better than b2b. It’s business to prospect. Keep burgers calm.
Andy Paul 37:01
Excellent. All right. Well Wayne, thank you very much. Thank you, Eddie. Okay, friends, that was accelerated for the week. First of all, as always, I want to thank you for joining me. And I want to thank my guests Wayne Cirillo. Join me again next week as my guest will be Chris Mullins. Chris is the phone Sales Director and CEO of law firm conversions, author of a book titled monkey business for today’s phone weary office. Here speak See No Evil and take Friday off. We’re going to talk about how to improve your conversion of your inbound calls into qualified sales leads. You’ll enjoy this conversation so be sure to join us then. Before you go, don’t forget to check out both sales houses that are the sales performance accelerators for b2b sellers, just like you visit the sales house.com. So thanks again for joining me. Until next week. I’m your host, Andy Paul.