Bill Wilson, Co-Founder & CEO at Sales Right Co., joins me on this episode.
Andy Paul 00:00
It’s time to accelerate. Hey, friends, this is Andy. Welcome to Episode 726 of Accelerate the Sales podcast of Record. Have another excellent episode lined up here today. Joining me as my guest on this episode of Accelerate is Bill Wilson and Bill’s the co-founder and CEO at Sales Rates. And the topic we’re going to dig in today is transparency and sales. So Bill and I got to get to when is the right time to talk about price with your prospects and how do you keep the buyer engaged as they go through their buying process and perhaps their needs and requirements change? How do you keep them engaged in a really transparent fashion about pricing and what their options are and what it means for them now and what it means in terms of the value they can receive? They’re either going to save from investing in your solution and also to talk about why sellers often defer that price conversation. Actually, sometimes a sales expert will give you the advice. So don’t talk about price to get enough information for them to provide some context, which, you know, oftentimes defers the price discussion way too late into the game, just creating suspicion from the buyer. All right, let’s jump into it. Bill, welcome to the show.
Bill Wilson 02:18
Hi. Thanks for having me on.
Andy Paul 2:19
Well, my pleasure. Well, tell us a little bit about your company, Sales Right Co.
Bill Wilson 4:33
It’s really designed to provide transparent pricing for B2B SaaS. There’s an element of typical B2B SaaS. You’ve got your self-service sign up pages where you’ve got the two or three tiers and then you almost always have that right hand here that says call us or enterprise. So that’s where we want to, that’s where we sort of focus. So the usual process, once you get into that tier is you talk to a buyer, they qualify you a little bit, they sell you off to an account. The executive does their thing and they dig into your problem and they take you through the software and they really get to your pain. And then ultimately, what you end up with is probably an email with a block of text in it or a PDF and a price. And you’re now left with that single option. And I feel like that’s where things start to break because people only have one choice. Yeah. And I think people like to control their own destiny. We have this day and age buyers are really smart and they want to be able to play a bit of what if analysis and understand what their what their options are without having to go back and forth with people like you and me. Just the back and forth. So in a spirit of trying to shorten that sale cycle. But I think really what it comes down to is trust and transparency. So if we can provide a bit more transparency and allow our prospects to participate in the pricing conversation, I think I think we’ll build a lot more trust with them. And, you know, ultimately, if we can do it right, there are a few psychological buying principles that we can take advantage of that we often take advantage of in our self serve models, but not very often do we do it inside our customer deals.
Andy Paul 06:23
Ok, so what’s your application? Does it become part of somebody’s sales stack?
Bill Wilson 6:29
So, yeah, it sort of fits in that late stage opportunity to close where you’re doing those customers to be SAS sales. And we allow people to create custom pricing guides that allow you to visualize several tiers or options which customers access through a portal or so they get sent a link. It’s all driven by the web and they get to play around with it. They get to play with some what-if analysis. If the sales rep can get really creative, they can do comparisons against themselves. Maybe they’ve got their typical package in there, like a package that’s built that’s for them. Maybe it includes customer success management or a few other incentives and maybe the price is a bit lower in May. So you can even just do comparisons against yourself. Yeah, create custom bundles. And then the beauty of it is that once you send one of these things out, your prospect is going to start to interact with it. So for us, what we do is then we start servicing back all the analytics we have with it. Because we feel like the follow-ups know we all have to follow up like it’s just constantly following up, so but to do that in a way that’s much more than just trying to get them back to the top of your inbox. It’s like I see that you’ve been focusing a lot on whether to go with the startup package or the scale package or whatever it happens to be or this many documents versus that many documents or a particular feature they keep looking at over and over again.
Andy Paul 7:58
So you’re sort of a little heat map based on where they are.
Bill Wilson 8:01
Yeah, I mean, we don’t have heat maps yet, but we do have analytics with everything they’ve clicked on and touched. So whenever they choose a different package, we sort of record the change in pricing and or the change in the value of the contract, things like that. And then that allows the process to account executives at least to have reasonable follow-ups, also timely follow-ups. You can actually reach out to them when they’re looking at the pricing. Right. Which is super helpful. But ultimately, we want people to be invested cognitively in that pricing conversation. There are some real advantages to being able to see where you’re going to go. They have an option to sell them every month on that value. So if they can see how their growth maps into your software, that’s amazing. Right. So they can see, OK, today I met 50 employees and I want to scale this up to one hundred. So what might that look like? What would it cost me in the future? Like what’s my future state look like with your product? And we think that’s really powerful and really empowering for the buyer and super transparent and trust-building for the account. So, you know, like they now have they’re seen as a trusted partner. But where pricing is structured over time. So it’s very transparent.
Andy Paul 9:25
Ok, so just my clearance because I’d looked at the site, but I didn’t sign up for the demo that was built-in calculator’s then.
Bill Wilson 9:34
Yeah. So we support things like multi-access pricing where you can choose your package but then you may have a multiplier on top of those packages, which is a really popular sort of expansion in SAS. So maybe it’s per seat, maybe it’s per bundle of contacts or documents or things like that. Sure. The other popular ones are things like add ons, maybe that there’s a really enhanced onboarding you’re going to need to do or multiple training sessions that you want to charge for. Or maybe there’s a consulting component of what you’ve got to do. So those can be listed as add ons and they may not be necessary, but it’s also nice to be able to offer those up as options. So as they select those different things, sort of builds out their package, I can see a breakdown of what the estimated costs may be to buy the account, executives set up the guide in such a way that that call to action that’s on there can either be a meeting with them or fire them off to a commitment link where they can take payment if that’s what they do. But more often not it. It’s going to send them an email. And let’s have that conversation.
Andy Paul 10:40
So all right, so a couple of questions then on that. What led you to serve, identify that this was a problem?
Bill Wilson 10:50
Well, two things. One, I bought a lot of enterprise SaaS and I’ve been on the receiving end of these things. Sure, I always have questions and I’m always left. Going back and forth with sales reps and sales reps are busy, so I may not be the highest on their list that day. I mean, may take me some time to get that and maybe some. And sometimes when I got that information, I wasn’t necessarily in the headspace to deal with it at that point. So that was a bit frustrating. And then in another business I ran called Mincy, we sold a lot of productized services and we realized that packaging them up and comparing them against each other was a really great way. Instead of writing a really long proposal that nobody reads something visually. Yeah, something visual to actually show people, you know, explicitly what they’re getting, what they’re not. Right. And that also allowed us to take advantage of some nice pricing and some buying psychology that we had never really considered before, showing the highest-priced items to the left and value going down all those types of things was really interesting to see play out. So we built a product or a tool inside of the mind. See that basically did this for a little Web page and we would send it to our clients and we didn’t have any tangible link, but more often than we would do a screen share like a zoom price, and then we would basically get them to bring up the link on their screen and share their screen. And then we’d watch what they would do, watch how they navigated it. So that was sort of a real-time heat map of how they were navigating pricing. So it really made for a good conversation point. And more often than not, we should close the deal just with one of those guys instead of spending hours developing a proposal. So we found proposals. We would always write proposals. So, you know, we found people would just look at the very front page, sort of like the overture, the price to the right really quickly. And then if they were really interested, they go look at our terms of service. Right. We go look at our contract. So I figured, you know, we can skip a lot of steps here. Right. We can start and talk about the value that they’re going to receive. And let’s lay that out in a way that also highlights the other big thing that everybody wants to talk about, which is pricing. So that’s why we built it that way. And so we build the product inside Mincy. And every time I showed it to a client, you know, if they were in tech at all, they were like, where did you get this tool? This is amazing. Like, I love this. And I said, oh, you know, it’s a tool we built in-house. No big thing. But I heard it enough that I and I realized that also in SaaS, pricing is probably one of the biggest levers people can pull. And it’s a really tough problem. So those two things combined led me to say this. This could really help inside that customer cell, and it can also help in tons of other ways just inside the business itself.
Andy Paul 13:40
Let’s jump into it because I think that knowledge, just thinking what you’re talking about is a huge proponent of selling price early in a deal. And I know that’s anathema to many traditional sellers. I work for a boss whose model was early in my career. His model was early quote, often, and we use quotes to qualify and also do discovery as a great mechanism. We’re selling large, complex enterprise deals. And if done appropriately, it’s very effective. And for me, what I find interesting about this is that. All mean qualifications generally have done miserably across the board and sales, SAS, whatever, but the maximum is famous. You cannot consider a prospect qualified until they’ve bought into your pricing. Doesn’t mean it’s the final price, but until they’ve bought into the idea that the outcomes they want to achieve, they can achieve with a certain amount of investment. And they then use that information to make this internal decision, which is made in two steps. And this is you know, people study this first up as, hey, we’re going make a change or not. Well, this is information needed to make that change, the second-order decision is who is going to make the change with the big decisions? Are we going to change? Right. And so I find this sort of interesting approach to that. Is that a sort of demystifying the pricing and B, if you expose pricing on an interesting and logical and sort of value-based perspective early on, that as you go through the selling process and their needs necessarily evolve because they learn more from you, then that automatically gets updated on the pricing, right? Yeah, it seems much more collaborative.
Bill Wilson 15:41
Yeah, it’s collaborative and it gives you something to center the conversation around. You can always point back to it, you know. So if they come back to you and they say, you know, I really like this, but we’re going to need that customer success manager, like, we’re not sure it’s going to take us a while to get ramped up. I don’t want to be you know, I don’t want to be left to support. I really need a dedicated customer success manager, you know, and then they can update it in real-time, almost on the phone. They’re like, OK, cool, it’s up to it. Have a look. You know, circulate that amongst your peers or your team and let me know what you think. It just gives that real you know, they feel like it’s not just the seller updated or they updated the customer. The seller would update it. Yes, they can pick and choose their own adventure. But if that’s going on, if they need something in the packaging, that’s really easy to show them that value just instantly, they can just change while they’re on the phone and say, OK, refresh your screen. There it is. They’ve got their brand new pricing.
Andy Paul 16:42
I think the last thing salespeople should be doing is negotiating because first of all, they’re horrible at it. They’re pretty much across the board. And we should have documented that I could get going about why you should have professional contracts, people handle contracts. But really the way that salespeople should be, negotiating is just so what you’re saying is if you could do this in real-time, which again, is a practice I endorse is yeah, we’re going to update this package. They say, well, let’s see this option. Great. We’ll update it. Oh, that’s still high. But I really need that. Well, then the logical thing for the salesperson says, well, yeah, that may well just decrease the scope on the side a little bit. Right. We’ll change the deliverables here to affect the price. And you get your customer service person right.
Bill Wilson 17:29
And you get and then you end up with this horse-trading mentality as opposed to reducing your pricing.
Andy Paul 17:33
Right. Which is what you need. That’s to me, that’s not a negotiation. That’s what trade-offs are. Right. You’re making trade-offs. And sellers really need to get good at making trade-offs with the buyer and during the selling process, because then when you get to the end of the line and they say that the price is great. We’re going to be. They know they can’t ask for anything else because you’ve just established that if you ask for a discount or discount to decrease the scope and that they’re playing that game with you for however long.
Bill Wilson 17:59
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, and it just sets up so many interesting ways to present pricing either early, like even at the BDR stage, if you wanted to get into qualification early and you could even just present basic packages and see if I thought, sure, I’d go that far. But yeah, but I mean, certainly outlining packages, maybe not with the price, but certainly outlining the packages and showing them the different options, depending on who your readers and customers were. And then and then when you get into the actual, you know, who’s in control of pricing. So you’ve got your VPs of sales or depending on the size of the Saas company, sea level is always involved in pricing. But pricing and displaying pricing is at that weird intersection of all parts of the product. But product people, you’ve got salespeople and you’ve got the executive. They’re all there to get it published and make sure that you can actually build the packages you need. You’ve got engineering involved and things like that. So it’s a real hot button topic. And being able to communicate that across your team effectively is another reason to start thinking about things this way. You know, being able to package things for your own internal team, training like if you’re racing, and how things are structured for that particular month. All right, guys here’s the June offer. Like this is what it looks like. This is what we’re going with. This is the thing we’re going to sell. So here are your guides. Here are your templates. Go for it. Like, let’s get something quick to the door. So it just gives people a bit more of a structure to work in without a ton of extra work. The last thing a sales rep wants to do is the process, right? And ultimately, you know, having this inside your stack, having a tool like this inside your stack, connecting on both ends to Salesforce or HubSpot, or whatever you happen to be using. So the deals are automatically updated, and that’s ultimately where we want to go. Configure price quotes are super complicated for a lot of people right now, especially in the SaaS world. Like, you don’t need all of that. So we’re trying to pull that down a bit and make it a bit more simple. Attack it from this the way that buyers are used to buying B to C, SaaS, the backbone A, B, B, B to C, SaaS has been built on this sort of packaging and this followed suit. So why are we changing this now? Once we get inside that custom sale, let’s do that. Transparency and empowerment of our prospects builds trust for us and sets. And there are no surprises, right? That’s the big thing. No surprises in the future.
Andy Paul 20:36
Yeah, well, I think the point you made earlier, the one thing that’s very interesting about it is the fact that you can sort of set up the custom quotes to reflect the way people are customizing standard pricing. So with the power of three, supposedly to be optimal, give people three choices, get it out of the order. You said start from left or right, which is opposite the way most companies do, like the most expensive on the price.
Bill Wilson 21:01
Always go to the left. It’s one tidbit. The left always starts with the Cadillac and works down to the neon.
Andy Paul 21:10
No, I think that’s true. What’s and why not use little things like that to attract the interest of the buyer. So you go ahead. I’m sorry. So you. And I had talked a little bit or exchanged communication before, and so. You say that you think SACE sales are broken. Why, I mean, how is that tied to what you’re doing?
Bill Wilson 21:38
Well, I mean, ultimately it is this idea of I think, you know, for the large part, self-service gas is fine. You know, that whole process works great. It’s the single option thing that I have a hard time with. And I think that’s where a lot of people can benefit from it. Just switching the conversation to a bit more of a let the customer lead you as salespeople. Our job is to figure out what our prospects need like that is our job. And you can’t take that from like that. You can’t take that. We’re the ones who are going to figure out if our solution can solve your problems. If it doesn’t, I shouldn’t be selling it to you.
Andy Paul 22:17
That seems to be the problem residing right now, though. Is that to your point, is. Yeah, our research figured out B to C, SaaS. But as we go up the complexity scale, we actually have to start selling. Then we run into issues.
Bill Wilson 22:32
Right. And I think, you know, people are faced with these, you know, like there’s been so much research done into how to sell and not much of it is very good either. So there are lots of great ideas out there. And I think that but I guess my biggest problem for me was just not understanding why we have all this great. This built-in psychological selling that we already know works and then we just completely throw it out the window when we go to do a custom. So meaning what? So why do we not give our prospects options? Why do we revert to these systems where we’re just constantly emailing back and forth and having this painful process every time? I mean, you can do this HubSpot, you know, going back and forth with HubSpot on pricing. It’s just like when you’re the customer, I mean, it’s mind-numbing. So, like, why add more friction, you know, like lay your cards on the table, be transparent about where things are, line up what you think is going to work for them and reconfigure that and say, here you go, here’s what we think is going to work for you. Have a look at it, play with it, you know, dig into it, because that’s ultimately what people want. Do you think people want to call you to talk to friends?
Andy Paul: 23:50
Let’s operate on this. Some of the assumptions that the reason that people aren’t changing is fear. Right. So what’s the fear that’s keeping sellers from doing exactly what you’re proposing?
Bill Wilson 24:01
Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I talk to a lot of companies about this, and I hear everything from, you know, we don’t want to have our competitors get our pricing there. I have it. And this is the thing. So competitors go pricing. We don’t want to have our pricing out there because we want to show the value that we bring and we feel like it’s really high and people are going to get sticker shock. So, I mean, and this is kind of my point. I think I think there’s a lot of value, I think, in working with companies that have those. You know, those mentality of trying to keep their pricing private and getting into this packaging and pricing mentality of being able to really sort of just lay things out and get them used to that, I think will actually I think will do a lot of them a lot of good. And I know a lot necessarily has complex pricing. And I can see why you wouldn’t want to put that on your website necessarily because maybe there are a lot of moving parts there.
Andy Paul 25:01
You know, if it’s truly a configured price system. Absolutely.
Bill Wilson 25:05
For sure. So I can totally see that. And we work with a lot of prospects or a lot of companies like that. And, you know, they necessarily have stuff locked down because there are 12 moving parts, you know, that they have to configure, which is a bit of an exaggeration, maybe not 12, but a handful.
Andy Paul 25:23
But I think of those instances, they would still want to use a tool like yours for ballpark pricing, estimated pricing, so on.
Bill Wilson 25:31
Yeah. And we found actually a lot of people that have that, you know, multi-access pricing, especially where there are a few multipliers on top of whatever package or platform they didn’t. We found that we’ve really opened the doors for them like they haven’t been able to do it the way that made sense. They had really complicated spreadsheets and they were trying to get those to their prospects and things like that. And they just didn’t have a tool that could do it for them and respond quick enough to change. You know, people can build pricing calculators on their website today. No problem. They can do all the stuff. But being able to respond to change, you know, really quickly and get that up on your website and all that kind stuff, there’s always a bunch of friction there. If we can put that in the power of the bullpen, the VPs of sales and in consultation with the product, then changing a few things. And they’ve got a beautiful looking protocol that matches their new pricing structure, lets them do AB testing, lets customer success teams up, sell it to once you get something that you can point at and look at and everybody can visualize that power is inside the team is palpable like they can really I really you know, every time I show it’s the lights go on and like you can feel hase get excited when they see that they can actually start communicating internally in a more visual way. So I think it avoids a lot of confusion. It saves a lot of time on the back and forth with prospects. There’s a lot of time building out proposals that no one’s going to read and you’re not going to close. And it really lets you surface all of that.
Andy Paul 27:03
But that’s to your point, right? There is never going to close the never going to read and never even close. That was preordain before. You got to that point. Right. So using pricing as a qualification tool is something you should have done in those instances. So you weren’t wasting your time.
Bill Wilson 27:17
Right. And that’s what we found like in our past. I mean, that’s how we start using it. We’d spend a lot of time creating proposals and we would talk about pricing with prospects and stuff. But there’s nothing like actually seeing it in front of them and seeing how they respond to it and if it’s for them or not. And I think and I mean, ultimately, you know, you need to know if there are objections still after you present pricing, you need to loop back around and find out what those objections are and just make sure that your solution solves the problem. Because, you know, I hear a lot like, oh, deals aren’t won or lost on pricing. And I beg to differ. I think I think there’s actually quite a bit that goes into pricing and how things are structured. And I think it’s a very, very important part of the process. And you’re right, people are scared to bring it up.
Andy Paul 28:00
Well, let’s dive into the semantics a little, but I think maybe we fine-tune that that first thing, which is the price, not pricing, whereas pricing, which I’ll call the presentation or price then can absolutely make a difference.
Bill Wilson 28:29
If they’re qualified and you know, they say they’re going to find a way to make it work.
Andy Paul 28:36
Well, and that’s why pricing and talking about pricing and the value they can receive from your solution, how it ties to the outcomes we are going to see is such an essential part of the qualification. And yeah, you’re not able to do it on the first step. You have to go through discovery, maybe multiple steps of discovery to help them get to that point where they can make that change. No, go change decisions. But they’re qualified to do that. They can’t do that without pricing. Right. And that’s such at such a critical point in a sales process or in the buying journey. That’s what the customer says. Yeah. Based on what we’ve seen so far, based on the various numbers we’ve seen from the vendors. Yeah, this makes sense for us. And the key is, is that just to make sure they’re primarily interested in making that decision based on your pricing, and if you do a great job of laying it out clearly, then you will be in the pole position.
Bill Wilson 29:26
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, we find that a lot with our clients is that it provides for them and just the sheer ability. Oftentimes you’re selling at a certain level and they’re still stakeholders. You’re not talking to you. I mean, ultimately you would want to be able to talk to them, but you’re not like this. So you build up your champion, right. And you arm him with this pricing. He now has something he can share inside his team. And now they can dig into it together and look and still from the perspective of an account executive, it’s gold because you’re getting all of that feedback as to how they’re acting with it and how they’re using it. So it’s win-win on those things. Right. It’s nice and transparent for the prospect and does all the information right. What they really think about your party.
Andy Paul 30:14
Yeah, well, and again, I think the venture goes part of the reason I’m intrigued by what you’re doing is that your shareability has to do with how clear things are. Right. So if the message presented isn’t clear, the ability goes down substantially and that just hurts you?
Bill Wilson 30:35
Yeah. And it’s interesting. We found a few things just on that note, like where people had add ons and they were worded in a language that made sense, of course, to the product but didn’t make a lot of sense. So there was something that had just gotten used to overtime. And it’s like, oh, we call it The Wiz or whatever, and people just don’t. And inside their organization, they refer to it as something completely different. So something as simple as that. And seeing those questions come up over and over again, a quick change in the operating clarity and they’re off to the races. Don’t have to update the marketing collateral. You don’t have to update that dogeared PDF you’ve been sending to your client’s logo on it. Like you don’t have to do any of those things. You can just make the change, test it out and and and cycle through. So I think it just takes people with a bunch more tools that they never had at their disposal before.
Andy Paul 31:23
Yeah, I know. And I think that the reason that I find it very interesting as well as well is that. That’s a point I make to sellers all the time, and unfortunately, not enough of them are put in some practices, the mere act of selling to a prospect or let’s say the buyer’s mere act of investigating products and services necessarily changes them. And so what they think they need at the beginning of the process may not be the same as what it is now a week into it, two weeks into it, or whatever scale you’re working on. And so to have this ability to be able to reflect that in real-time in the offers that you’re making is pretty valuable as opposed to saying, yeah, well, great, I’ll make it so that when we present our proposal at the end of the thing, we’ll include that. And why I’m sure you have clients that use a purely in that way and do thus just deserve more clearly laying out pricing at the end of a deal. To me, the value I see is as a seller. I’d like yeah, I want to use this early on. I want to get the pricing out there in front of them. We’ll talk about their outcomes, we’ll see what changes. We’ll keep updating it. And this collaboration piece that we talked about.
Bill Wilson 32:33
Yeah, absolutely. Collaborative, transparent, trust.
Andy Pau 32:38
That’s right. Well, that’s the nice thing about this, too, is your use of the word transparent. This is the first cornerstone of trust, you have a little acronym about how to build trust. Are your motivations transparent, the eyes? Do you have integrity? Those now being able to be very transparent with your pricing plays a big part in that.
Bill Wilson 33:05
So, yeah, agreed. Agreed. And I think if we can get a lot of companies, a lot of sales reps over that awkwardness of talking about pricing and bringing it up early, you know, I think I think everybody will be in a better position. I think people hold out hope for too long in deals.
Andy Paul 33:22
Salespeople have heard this for decades, and training quickly now is better, unfortunately, part of the training, too, though, is that while no, not really, no. And sometimes no actually is no. And that’s OK. Later but yeah. Maybe not today.
Bill Wilson 34:07
And I guess that’s, that’s part of it too. It’s like, you know, these, these conversations, these tools like being able to present this stuff early, can bring up a lot of Egyptian objections. You can address really, you know, the whole qualification thing you were talking about, like, you know, you don’t really know what their objections are until you really start, you know, putting pen to paper and getting those things in there.
Andy Paul 34:28
No objections. Just questions waiting to be answered. So there’s a better surface, the questions early. All right. Well, Bill, we’ve run out of time, but enjoyed the conversation. Appreciate you coming on so tough. This was a lot of fun.
Bill Wilson 35:03
Great. Thanks a lot.
Andy Pau 35:11
Ok, friends, that was excellent for the week. First of all, as always, I want to thank you for joining me and I want to thank my guest, Bill Wilson. Join me again next week as my guest will be Shawn Finder. Shawn is the founder and CEO of AutoKlosed. And Sean, I’m going to talk about whether we’ve gone too far in automating sales. Thanks again for joining me. Until next week, I’m your host and good selling everyone.