EPISODE #038 – 7 BIGGEST MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN PROSPECTING

TRANSCRIPTION OF EPISODE

Chris Battis:                  On this episode of Intent Topics, we have Craig Elias from Shift Selling giving us seven mistakes people make when prospecting.

Chris Battis:                  Welcome to Intent Topics. Today, we have Craig Elias from SHiFt Selling. Craig is a speaker, an advisor, a sales trainer, and a mentor among other things, and today we’re going to talk about the seven biggest mistakes people make when prospecting. Welcome, Craig.

Craig Elias:                    Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

Chris Battis:                  Oh, you got it. So, before we get started on the seven mistakes, you want to give a quick background to our audience on a little bit on yourself?

Craig Elias:                    Yes. So, I was a bartender at a bar making really good money in the early ’90s, and the guy I worked with became a recruiter and he got me a job as an inside salesperson for a tech firm, and I lasted about 90 days in that job and got promoted outside sales. And then for the next 20 years, I just had this unbelievable knack of showing up. I probably had the right people at exactly the right time. And then one day, my-

Chris Battis:                  Which is key.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. And then one day, my luck stopped and I was really curious what was different. So, I looked back at my luck in all my six, seven, eight figure deals, figured a few things out, took what I had learned, start a company, won a million-dollar prize in a global “Billion-Dollar Idea” competition, spent a year down in Silicon Valleys which was living the total life of Riley, became a dad, put in place as a CEO, came back home, and then I kept getting asked to go share with all these sales teams what I had figured out that made me so lucky. And that sort of took on a life all of its own for a few years. So, I get to travel the world speaking on stages, and when I’m home, I get to help startups and scale-ups in my own entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Chris Battis:                  Nice. Very exciting. Well, thanks for joining. We’re excited to have you on today. And so Logan, do you want to kick off the top seven mistakes people make when prospecting?

Logan Kelly:                  Yeah, man, I’m pumped about this. This is great. Thanks for coming on, Craig. So, let’s start with number seven here. So, you would ignore the five opportunities created by a bounced email. Talk to me about what you mean here.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, so I look at this not just as these are the mistakes that we’ll make, but this is why people’s prospecting sucks. So all these seven reasons, if your prospecting sucks, it’s probably one of these seven reasons. And here’s the thing, so you’ve got a person add an account, let’s call him Logan for now, and you send an email, and the email address bounces. Well, 9 times out of 10 what people do is they just take that person like, “Okay, that person’s off my prospecting list.” They have left. For me, instead of taking them off your prospect list, you should say to yourself, “Hang on a second. I can create multiple opportunities out of this.”

Craig Elias:                    So, A, odds are that if Logan was a customer in the past, he’s highly likely to buy from you again. So first of all, you need to figure out where did he go. The second thing you need to figure out is who did Logan replace and where has that guy or where has that gal gone, because that person’s new enroll has more money, more authority, and more influence than they even had in their other role. And the data suggests that 70% of decision makers new in their role will spend their entire annual budget during their first 90 days on the job. So, you’re going to go with who they are as soon as they get a new job.

Craig Elias:                    So, Logan leaves, so I got to follow Logan, I’m going to find out who he replaced, talk to that guy or gal. Then the thing is Logan used to have a job but he was a nice enough guy and he gave me some business, but I wanted more, right? And I couldn’t go over Logan or he’ll get pissed off and he’ll cut me off. Well, Logan’s no longer there, so let’s go talk to his boss, start building relationship to farther up the organization. I want to see what happens to see who ends up replacing Logan because I want to make sure I talked to that person right away. And the first question I ask when I go see Logan’s replacement, let’s say it’s Chris, the first question I’m going to ask Chris is “Where did you come from?” because that’s a vacancy that, at some point, is going to get filled.

Logan Kelly:                  So Craig, talk to me about the tools that you employ if you want to make your prospecting not suck specifically around number seven here.

Craig Elias:                    So, for me, I look at even just something simple enough as an alert or a saved search on LinkedIn. Tell me when anybody on my network or a second degree has a new job with the title, Sales, in it or has a new job with the title, Marketing, or has a new job with a title, Operations. So, I use these save searches, I then get a list, sometimes I get a couple of hundred of these a week, and I’m just going to focus on those that are less than 90 days in their job. Because sometimes what happens is people take longer than 90 days to update their LinkedIn profile. So, I’m going to focus on those that are newest in their jobs because those are the ones that are most likely to change.

Craig Elias:                    You could also do a Google alert between ” appointed VP,” whatever, and then put down maybe a geography. So, if you only have certain accounts or only have certain geographies, you can add that. That’s another really good way you can do this. You could, if you’re an organization, you could do marketing automation and you’re sending out all these people that are on your lead nurturing list and then they bounce.

Logan Kelly:                  Makes sense.

Craig Elias:                    You know, it’s interesting. I’ve actually heard of, haven’t spoken to this person, but I actually heard of a division manager inside Salesforce who did something a little like this, but they would send an email out to all their important contacts the day before a major holiday, think American Thanksgiving. And then, what ends up happening is they get all these emails that bounce back, “Hey, I’m out of the office. You need to talk to my boss. My boss is Logan.” I was like, “Oh, that is so brilliant.” Right?

Logan Kelly:                  Yeah.

Chris Battis:                  Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, cool. So standard tools, deploying them in a real specific way. So, let’s go to number six. You put, you can’t tell a hot prospect from a time waster. I think this is something that every salesperson in some shade would love to understand how to tighten that up a little bit, so I’m excited to hear what you have to say here.

Craig Elias:                    And everybody who’s listening to this is going to go, “Hang on a second. That’s happened to me.” So, here’s my art. So, I look at the world of sales from people always in one of three buying modes. First one, status quo, happy, see no reason to change. Something happens. We’ll get to these things that make someone unhappy and thinking of changing, it’s called the Window of Dissatisfaction. And then at some point, they start the process of searching for alternatives. Way too many salespeople think that just because someone says, “Hey, I’m looking for a different provider of this. Can you tell me how much you cost and all kinds of other stuff?”, by the time people get to that part of the process, this is where I believe some of the data that says, “By the time a customer reaches out to you, the deal is 57% or 68% or 75% already done,” because they’ve… Or here’s what’s happened. They’ve already defined the problem. They’ve already designed the solution and they’re now just going out doing column fodder, right? That’s what ends up happening.

Craig Elias:                    Michael Bosworth talks about the fact that your first miss won’t be the last, but this is what happens. When you do outbound and you talk to someone who says, “I’m thinking of doing something about this. Phone me back in five months when I’ll have time to talk about it.” These are the hot prospects. These are the people that know they have a problem. They haven’t fully defined the problem. They haven’t decided which way they’re going to solve the problem. These are the people you want to get to now because if you help them frame the problem in such a way that your solution is more appealing, then you’ve just displaced all kinds of your competition.

Craig Elias:                    Now, when I say competition, I don’t mean competitors. Competitors, or you can identify by saying, who is my competitor? What is the competition? It’s all the different ways of solving a problem. If you own a jewelry store, your competitors are other jewelry stores, but your real competition is all the crazy ways that guys would say to their spouse or whoever, “I’m sorry,” or “I love you,” and it turns out that’s flowers, chocolate, perfumes, purses, dress, trips, and cars.

Craig Elias:                    Sorry, reservations is another one, right? So, if you don’t get in there early, you miss the chance to create what McKinsey calls the initial consideration set. How am I going to solve this problem? Not which vendor, but how am I going to solve the problem? If you get there early, you solve the problem. People go, “Oh, call me back in six months.” Sales people are smart. They’re like, “I’m going to phone you back in five.” By the time they phone back in five, guess what happens. They’ve already made a decision. So when someone says to you, “I’m thinking of changing. Call me back in six months,” that’s a hot prospect.

Chris Battis:                  Interesting. Interesting. What are some specific action steps that you can take to… if you’re kind of beginning that sales process? Are there specific questions, or how are you assessing that out in a way that becomes-

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. So, we’re, we’re going to get to this because it’s the question is that you tell people what it is what you sell. So, the way I come at this is you tell people the value of what it is you do, not what it is that you actually do. So we’ll get to that a little bit. But if someone says, “Oh, I’m thinking of doing that. Call me back in six months,” here’s the secret, you can’t wait five months. Go ahead, Chris.

Chris Battis:                  To tie that to the data we use for prospecting, there’s a topic we’ve talked about a bit which is along the lines of just because a buyer is showing intent signals doesn’t mean that they’re ready to buy. There’s often a misconception that, “Oh, the data is indicating that there’s a research happening around this topic,” and oftentimes people will miss. They’ll think that that means that this person is ready to buy when really, it’s not, it’s potentially a time waster is my point. And to know where that person is in the buying cycle is very important to prioritize your time, right?

Craig Elias:                    Well, here’s everything. I think it’s really important that when someone says to you, “Hey, I’m thinking of changing. Call me back in six months,” I’m going to say something like this, “Chris, I will gladly call back in six months, but can I ask for something first? Like, I’d love to be prepared for when I call you back in six months. Do you have time for 30 minutes next week? Or do you have time for 30 minutes sometime this week?” You’re going to say, “No, I’m too busy.”

Craig Elias:                    I’m going to go, “Well, what about next week?” You go, “No, I’m too busy.” And then I’m going to say this, I’m going to say, “What if I only made it 20 minutes and what if it was three weeks from now?” And people won’t say no three times in a row. You get your 20 minutes. You get your 20 minutes, right? There’s all kinds of things about why, how, what should be on that call. My argument is two or more. The data says two or more people, and the first call makes you three times more likely to get them as a customer. So, you got to get on their radar screen within 21 days or it doesn’t work.

Logan Kelly:                  Right, right. That makes sense. That makes sense. So, let’s move into the next one so that we cram all these into one episode. So number five, you ask inbound leads the wrong questions. So, we’re switching things up from outbound to inbound. Let’s talk about inbound.

Craig Elias:                    So inbound, here’s the problem. Someone fills in a form, sales guy picks up the phone, sales gal picks up the phone and goes, “Hi, Craig, are you ready to buy? Hi, Craig, are you ready to buy? Hi, Craig, are you ready to buy?” And it just turns people off. My argument is we need to learn… We earn what we learn. So I’m going to pretend this lady named Sally fills in a form, meets my criteria. First of all, I’m going to phone her back in five minutes or less when the form’s been filled in, because the MIT lead response survey says if you call back in five minutes or less, you are nine times more likely to actually talk to that person. So, I talk to Sally, “Hi, Sally. Craig here. As you just filled in the form, I’m calling to follow up but I’m not trying to sell you anything. Can I take two minutes and ask you really quick questions?” The answer is almost always yes.

Craig Elias:                    So, here are my first three questions. So first question is, “Did you receive the email that had the link to the resource you were looking for? If yes, great. If not, is it in your Junk folder?” “No.” “Let’s go. Set it again.” Second question, “When you read about this or when you heard about this, what resonated and made you say, ‘Hey, I should check this out?'” And my last question always goes like this, “I’m curious what happened recently that made this more important or more relevant?” And what I’m listening for is has there been a trigger, an event that has raised their expectations or help them understand the performance of what they get has dropped. Now, they’re in the Window of Dissatisfaction, “I’m thinking of changing.” If it turns out there’s been an event, then I ask for permission to ask more questions, but in the first part I just want to learn. I’m not learning, I’m selling. And as soon as I start to sell, people push back or shutdown.

Logan Kelly:                  Right, right. Yeah, they’re like hardwired for that. So, that’s interesting. That’s interesting. So when we look at inbound leads and you talk about events, right, briefly discuss like what is an event? Is it a job change? Is it an earnings issue? Is it all the above? How do you categorize that?

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, they’re called the A’s, B’s, and C’s. And this is sort of, for me, this is, you call it the wrong time. It’s the number one mistake or biggest reason people’s prospecting sucks. So, the first one is an awareness strategy. I try to tell people I’m better, faster, cheaper. The problem is it doesn’t work. This is what salespeople do.

Craig Elias:                    The B is bad experience. This is what other vendors do to piss off customers. So, this is someone has a bad experience, they’re like, “I want to switch.” Out they go. They pick up the phone, they call the first person they think of, or the first person they’d rather do business with, and they’re yours. That’s the B’s.

Craig Elias:                    The C’s are changes inside the organization you’re trying to sell to. So, yes, job change, location change. Location change is, for me, a big one. And it’s sort of a competitive threat when VMware announced that they got to a half a billion dollars in revenue, the story I got told was that the CEO of Citrix then said, “Crap,” picked up the phone, called their favorite McKinsey rep and said, “I need $50 million worth of consulting.”

Logan Kelly:                  All right. Cool, Craig. So, that was number five. Let’s go on to number four. You tell prospects what it is you sell. I thought as a sales guy, I was supposed to be telling people what I sell and I think that that’s what most people are doing. So talk to me what do you mean by this?

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, so here’s the challenge. Let’s pretend I call a guy, I don’t know, let’s call him Barack Obama, “Hi, Barack. My name’s Craig and I sell some sales training. Would you like some?”

Logan Kelly:                  Shooting high. Shooting high.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, shooting high is a good thing. We’ll get to that. But here’s the problem. He goes, “Oh, I’ve already got a sales trainer. I don’t need you.” So, the biggest mistake I think people make when people, A, when you pitch, you’re pitching your product, not the value that you bring, and B, when people ask you what you do, you actually tell them.

Craig Elias:                    So, I’m going to play my role. I’m going to pretend Logan, you’re a VP of sales. Now, it turns out you’re a new VP of sales and that’ll become important later on in the podcast. You’re a new VP of sales. I pick up the phone and go, “Hi, Logan. My name is Craig Elias, and I have a really simple way for more of your reps to make quota.” What are you going to ask me?

Logan Kelly:                  How?

Craig Elias:                    Exactly. “So Logan, I’ll tell you how, but can I ask a few questions first.” So what good salespeople do when they’re asked a question is they always find a way to ask questions first to get some context before they spew, or as Jeffrey Gitomer says, “Before they puke.” All right, so here’s the thing. So, Logan, I’m going to ask you a question. So I’ll say, “I’ll tell you how. Can I take a couple of minutes first and ask three quick questions?” You’re going to say yes, you’re almost always do. Sure. So here’s my first question, “How many salespeople do you have?”

Logan Kelly:                  I’d say 10.

Craig Elias:                    1,000. So, you got 10,000. Okay. “You got 10,000. What percentage of them make quota on a consistent basis?”

Logan Kelly:                  20%.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, okay. So, you’re doing worse than most because most is like somewhere around 48%. But here’s my last question, “Why do you think it is that reps can’t make quota?”

Logan Kelly:                  Because we haven’t hired you.

Craig Elias:                    Okay, well that works. But the answer I get more times than not is that people can’t close. And that’s what I would say, “Logan, you know what, I don’t think you have a closing problem. I think you have a completely different problem. I think you have a prospecting problem and a qualifying problem. Do you have a few minutes for me to explain why I think that?” [crosstalk 00:18:35] Do you know what I’m selling yet?

Logan Kelly:                  No, no.

Craig Elias:                    No. So-

Logan Kelly:                  [inaudible 00:18:43] for sure.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. And now we’re talking about like why is prospecting and qualifying really a problem, and then we start having this conversation. So, when do you get in front of these decision makers that are new in the job and you have your first conversation? Your only job is to hit them over the head with the problem, help them redefine the problem because if they think the problem is closing, I’m not the world’s best expert on closing. I am like, I had 10,000 endorsements and they’re almost all for prospecting and qualifying. So I need to, in my first conversation with you, help you reframe the problem and I’d be the first person that talks to you about how do you solve this new problem.

Craig Elias:                    I had this happen once with a bank, right? I had a guy come in from out of town, wanted to spend some time, only time I could get was 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. And one of my qualifying rules is if I’m going to have a conversation with someone or meet somebody, there’s always a second person on the call. That data from Donato Dario says the second person on a call or a visit, your first one, makes you three times more likely to get them as a customer. Lots of different reasons why.

Craig Elias:                    So guy comes to the town, I’m in this meeting, he thinks he’s got this problem, he’s responsible for sales transformation. I’m like, “Yeah, you’re nowhere near the mark. Here’s what I think the problem is and here’s the ways you can solve this problem.” And at 4:00 he says, “Okay, I have another meeting, but you can’t go. So, do me a favor, I’ll be back in 30 minutes.” So, I spent some time with the other person room, learned a bunch of stuff. They came back, we had another conversation, they went away for the weekend, and then I got a phone call on the Monday afterwards and he called me a fucker. He says, “I spent three months working on all the different ways to solve this problem that I’ve been having, and you made me realize in like 30 minutes I was going down the wrong path and you ruined my entire weekend because now I had to redo an entire 90 days with a work.”

Logan Kelly:                  That’s interesting. That’s interesting. And I think that moves us into number three. So, you say you measure the wrong things, so talk to me about that.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, so this is one of my pet peeves about sales manager’s CRM. There’s like 420 different metrics they measure, and just because something can be measured doesn’t mean it matters. So, these are the only four metrics I think matter. My first metric is how many of your initial calls to an account or to a vice president were higher? Because if you’re not calling up high, you’re not talking to people that define the problem so you can start designing the solutions. That’s question number one or metric number one.

Craig Elias:                    Metric number two, what percentage of your voicemails get returned? If your voicemails aren’t being returned, you suck at selling value. Like, “Hey Logan, my name is Craig. I have a really simple way to have more of your reps make quota. Here’s my number,” right? “If that doesn’t work, I have a second one, which is I’m going to turn more of your B players into A players. Here’s my number.” So, that’s it.

Chris Battis:                  Real quick on voicemail. I’m a skeptic on voicemails. Is there a perception that people will return a voicemail or is that a very low rate? What do you think there?

Craig Elias:                    So, if you phone and tell people you sell sales training, they’re going to hang up. They’re never going to return your voicemail. If you call them and tell them that you’re going to solve a specific problem, which they’ve got because they’re new in the role and they want to make things happen, then you’re going to get a conversation.

Craig Elias:                    Now, my argument is every time you touch somebody like email, voicemail, in person, you create more credibility. I know people that make two calls in a week and don’t leave any voicemails, I’m like, “People don’t know your phones.” Like, that’s [inaudible 00:22:38].

Logan Kelly:                  Right. Now you’re ghost.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. So, leaving it like having a rock-solid value proposition means your ratio of calls to return, like voicemails return, will go up. So then, the objective is to get a first meeting. How many first meetings can you get? Okay, now, but here’s the thing. The thing is how many of your first meetings have at least a second person in the meeting from that organization was on, too? Because if you don’t have a second person in that meeting, odds are you’re a column fodder. And if someone puts a second meeting, with a second person in that meeting, that means there’s some real value to be had and they’re interested in what you’re doing, otherwise they wouldn’t invest a second person’s time.

Craig Elias:                    Here’s the third metric. So how often do you get a second meeting? So, if you call a VP or higher and you don’t get your voicemails returned, your value proposition sucks, right? If you get a voicemail return but your first meetings don’t have a second person, that means that you’re not talking to the right people or you’re talking to them at the wrong time. And if you can’t get a second meeting, that usually means that you didn’t establish a relationship and they’re much more comfortable boring your idea and giving it to somebody else. And if you can do the three things between those four metrics, you’ll be a rock star.

Chris Battis:                  Got you. Got you.

Logan Kelly:                  Interesting. Interesting. So, I think this is one of the things that you’re talking about measuring bet. So number two, we’re already on number two, you call all the wrong people. Talk to me about what you mean by that.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. So the only people worth calling are VPs or higher. You need to find people that have money, the authority to spend it, and influence. So, when people go through the buying cycle, they have to have three events. The first event makes them unhappy with the status quo and puts them in this Window of Dissatisfaction, “I’m thinking of changing.” Then they had a second event. The second event is where they can afford the money for buy it or the time to look at it. And then, even then they end up stuck in this searching for alternatives mode and the vast majority of deals are lost because you can’t justify that purchase, right?

Craig Elias:                    People justify based upon, it’s called RIPES, R-I-P-E-and-S. Risk avoidance. Image, how do they make themselves look good or their boss look good or look good on their resume or LinkedIn or whatever. P is productivity, so spend the same amount of money to get more done. E stands for expenses, do the same number of things but spend less time and money whenever you’re doing it. And S stands for simplicity or speed.

Craig Elias:                    So, you’re calling all these lower level people that don’t have money, don’t have authority, and don’t have influence. When you call a VP or higher, they have all three of these. And instead of people having to have three events, “I want to change, I can afford to change, I can justify the change,” they just don’t have to have the first event. They make decisions way quicker. So, I only call people that are VPs or higher, otherwise I’m wasting my time. Because if I sell to this nice guy, Chris, nice guy, but his boss is Logan and I got to somehow convince Chris to be a good salesperson to sell it to Logan, which seldom works and it just, he likes to sell and try to get people to go up. If you can’t use a really good vibe proposition to get the interest and attention of someone, a VP or higher, you got to go figure out your vibe.

Logan Kelly:                  Well, we have some data and this is where I’ll push back a little bit. I think it’d be a good conversation. You know, we have data around finding the buying groups within a company. And I think to say a C-level or VP has influence, I think they have decision-making power, but influence comes from other, you know… It doesn’t matter if a C-level person has influence there, they are the boss. Like, see anything has decision-making power. VP, a lot of times they’re going to have more decision-making power than need influence.

Logan Kelly:                  So talk to me about like, do you completely ignore the fact that there are other people that might have an outsize impact on the VP or the C-level person who is not going to be diving in deep? I mean, I think sales training, that’s one thing, but like technical solutions, marketing solutions, these are things that there are definitely people who are part of that conversation that might have an outsized impact. So, what do you think about that?

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. So, my argument is you win a sale or lose a sale on the very front-end of the process, and that’s defining the problem. And the guy or gal at the top is the person who defines the problem, and if they define the problem a different way, it’s never going to happen. I’m just getting to give you an example, okay? And this is where I come at the competitors and competition.

Craig Elias:                    Competitors do the exact same thing that you do. The competition is a different way to solve the problem. So in the McKinsey model, so seven years after I kind of figured my stuff out, McKinsey came along and figured out almost exact same thing, but they call this, when people start looking at something, it’s called an initial consideration set. How are they going to solve that problem? So, defining the problem frames how you’re going to solve the problem. So, let me just give you an example. If you sell… So, you, Logan, and you, Chris, both own a jewelry store in the same town. Okay? You own your own jewelry store. What do you compete against?

Logan Kelly:                  So, there’s a few different things that we’re competing against. We’re competing for the wallet share of our consumers. So we’re competing with a lot of different companies. It could be the movie theater, and the jewelry store, and the nice restaurant.

Craig Elias:                    Totally agree. Yeah. So who spends more money on jewelry? Men. And when do men spend money on jewelry? When they’re stupid or want to say I love you. But here’s the thing. I was like, “If it’s my 10th year anniversary, what am I going to do? Am I going to spend $10,000 on a diamond? Am I going to do flowers, chocolate, perfume-

Logan Kelly:                  Vacation. Yeah.

Craig Elias:                    … lingerie, purses, pets, cars, or trips. I’ve heard of a place, it’s called San Sebastian, Spain. There are more Michelin-rated restaurants in San Sebastian, Spain than anywhere else in the planet except for Tokyo. I am a, what would you might call, what’s the term? I’m, sort of, I’m a flower. I wilt to 26 degrees Celsius. I am not going to go somewhere hot. San Sebastian, Spain, average temperature during the day, 26 degrees. I’m like, “I’m going to spend every dime possible. I’m going to take my wife to San Sebastian, Spain and we are going to dine every day on Michelin-rated food.” And we spent one meal at a place called Arzak, which at the time was the number 16th restaurant on the planet. If you showed up selling jewelry, I don’t care if you give it to me for 75% off, I am not buying jewelry. What am I doing?

Logan Kelly:                  You’ve already spent the money.

Craig Elias:                    In my head, I’ve spent that money. So, this is why it’s important to get to the peak of the top. They’re deciding whether it’s jewelry or Michelin-rated food, whether it’s a CRM solution or whether it’s an email list. That’s why it’s so important to get to that guy at the top when they’re new in the role and sell the value, not the price.

Chris Battis:                  That’s interesting. Well, so Michael Porter, he came up with the Porter’s Five Forces, which defines this beautifully. Michael Porter’s like one of my favorite academics, if you can have one. And so, I agree with what you’re saying where that’s dictating wallet share, and I’m not going to beat the dead horse here because I do agree with you. But if you’re a C-level or a VP, you have a slant towards something. So whether it’s like it’s your direct competitor, it’s a substitute, it’s governmental, whatever that force might be that’s driving many people in the organization, I would say that it might be more powerful to align with the people in the organization that are more in tune to your problem, which might not be the VP, but it might be the director right there. So I would say, I agree with what you’re saying, but I feel like there’s a little bit more nuance than just “Call the VP.”

Craig Elias:                    Well, sort of, yes, in some respects, but it’s still… So, first of all, the new ones, which comes down to that number one, you call at the wrong time? So, yes, call a VP, but there is a process also within this VP because you have to find a way to not have the VP like your solution. You have to find a way for the VP to like you. And if you become the preferred vendor he would or she would rather buy from, then that other piece kind of goes away.

Craig Elias:                    So this is where I like to, I take advantage of this thing called propinquity. Propinquity is the impact of nearness, geographical, psychological, is it classical, and I’ll also say chronological nearness. So, one of the reasons it’s so easy for me to sell to VPs or higher is they’re plus or minus seven and a half years my own age. I’m 57 years old. I can tell the guys that are 50 to 65, “It is so easy,” or sell the gals or if they’re 65, “It’s so easy.” But if I’m selling to 30-year-olds, it’s hard because they want a text or email, and I want to pick up the phone and talk to somebody. But here’s the thing, I call. So, we hit this thing about calling at the wrong time, which is what’s next. I’m going to get to this.

Craig Elias:                    If you’re going to call people, there’s only two times to call them. First thing, Monday morning between 8:00 and 10:00. And I’m amazed how many sales organizations have sales meetings between 8:00 and 10:00, because guess what? People that are new in their job have a list of things to get done. You call them between 8:00 and 10:00 in the morning. It’s on their list. They’ll return your call. If you don’t get the return call on Monday mornings, when’s the next best time to call them? Friday, after lunch. It’s either got on their list or it’s been on the list all week. They want to solve the prob before they go home.

Craig Elias:                    So, this is this whole thing is if you don’t call a decision maker and if it’s not on their list, it’s not going to happen. So the wrong time is really two things. But, A, are they motivated because they’re new in their job or something’s created dissatisfaction, B, are you calling them at a time when it’s on their list and it’s worth spending time on because they want to get it off their list? But here, for me, is one of those things related to propinquity because when I call you or Chris on Monday morning, what’s the first question I’m going to ask?

Logan Kelly:                  What’s on your list?

Craig Elias:                    No, what did you do this weekend?

Logan Kelly:                  Oh, there you go. Yeah.

Craig Elias:                    Because Chris is going to say, “Oh I went skiing.” “You went skiing. Where did you go?” “I went to Vail.” “Oh my God. Where did…” Like, all of a sudden, we’re building-

Logan Kelly:                  It was awesome.

Craig Elias:                    … this relationship because we have these things in common. So, got a phone on Monday morning, what’s the question I’m going to ask? “What did you do this weekend?” Not “How was your weekend?” but “What did you do?” because I want to find these things in common. Okay?

Craig Elias:                    When’s the second? When I call on the Friday afternoon, 1:00 to 3:00, what am I going to ask?

Logan Kelly:                  What are you doing this weekend?

Craig Elias:                    What are you doing this weekend? Totally. Right? So all of a sudden, now we’re sort of building these bonds and connections around the things that are the same.

Craig Elias:                    Like, I had coffee with a guy on Monday, pretty senior guy, right? Having this conversation and we’re just talking about a couple of things and all of a sudden, we realized we’re both scout leaders. We spent 15 minutes talking about that. That thing becomes this bridge to build a relationship with and makes me become the preferred salesperson that they want to do business with. And then what happens?

Craig Elias:                    Michael Bosworth talks about this. He talks about the fact that people tell you things they don’t tell other people because of that relationship. And Charlie Green’s model, he calls it intimacy. People will… They’re much more inclined to tell you the truth, right? So that’s kind of call a VP if you don’t have a relationship. The whole idea is you want to find one of those things you have in common.

Craig Elias:                    If you go look at my LinkedIn profile, in my neighborhood, so I run this group of cool guys. We’re called the Rink Rats. So when it’s minus 30 like it’s been, we’re out there making ice. When it’s a little bit warmer, we actually have a Zamboni. We have our own Zamboni for our outdoor community rink. So, what happens is people go to my LinkedIn profile and go, “Hang on a second, you drive a Zamboni?” I’m like, “Yeah, it’s a good, old fashion Frank Zamboni Zamboni. It’s a 404.” They’re like, “Wow. Do you have a-

Chris Battis:                  You sound Canadian. You sounded like a Canadian right now.

Logan Kelly:                  Do you have a license plate that says my other car’s a Zamboni?

Craig Elias:                    No, no, but it’s totally cool.

Logan Kelly:                  That’s great.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. So, if anybody plays hockey or has kids in hockey, what do we talk about? We talk about that thing. That’s my bridge to build a relationship, “Oh, I’d rather buy from this guy.”

Craig Elias:                    So Logan, when you get older and you have kids, and you sell business number one and you decide you want to spend more time with your kids instead of have a second startup, you would be one of the many, I mean many, CEOs in my network. They all love write-up, love a red wine, like to sale, and put their family first before they started their second business. I had this totally cool, amazing, eclectic group of people and we just share stuff like we don’t share with other people. That’s called propinquity. Right?

Logan Kelly:                  Makes sense. Tell us number one.

Chris Battis:                  Logan’s the soccer version of you with hockey.

Craig Elias:                    Okay, cool. So, again, calling at the right time is Monday morning and Friday. But here’s the other piece that’s really important. So, people leave this buying mode of status quo, happy and see no reason to change, because something triggers dissatisfaction with the status quo. It either, A, raises our expectations or, B, lowers their perception of the performance of what they have today. So, you’re focused on people who are dissatisfied with the status quo in this Window of Dissatisfaction.

Craig Elias:                    Classic example, like a person who gets a new job. The data says that 70% of decision makers spend their entire, like who are new in their job, spend their entire annual budget on new initiatives in their first 90 days.

Chris Battis:                  Wow.

Logan Kelly:                  Wow. Yeah.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah. So, job changes. I’m going to give you just something because people get this all the time. Email somebody, it bounces. Oh, take them off the list. Like, no. So, I’m going to use The Beatles as an example and I’m going to be slightly sexist here. So, I can take a single bounced email and turn it into multiple opportunities. I’m going to tell you how. So, Logan was a customer, email that just bounces goes to a new place. What does that mean? It means he’s doing his job. I’ve got to follow him. Don’t wait for him to call me. I need to follow him. So that’s my first opportunity. Second opportunity, who did Logan replace? So I’m going to do this back again. I’m going to say…

Craig Elias:                    Okay. So, John… I’ll use The Beatles. John was a customer, goes to a new place. I want to find out where did he go, I want to talk to him. Who did he replace, right? So he replaced Paul. Paul has now moved to a new job. Paul has more money, more authority, more influence, and now he wants to shake things up in his new company. That’s opportunity number three, opportunity number two, rather. Opportunity number three is who is John’s boss? Because John was a nice guy and gave me some business, but I want more. So I got to figure out who his boss is and I want to go talk to his boss before John’s replacement comes along, so I’d go away and I have a conversation with Yoko and I start building a relationship there. And then what ends up happening is eventually John’s replacement, Ringo, shows up. I go to Ringo. And what’s the first question I should ask Ringo when I talk to him and go see him? What do you think is the first question? Ringo just replaced John. What should did I ask him? What’s the first question?

Logan Kelly:                  Where did John go?

Craig Elias:                    Well, maybe if you don’t already know, or “Where did you come from?”

Logan Kelly:                  Got you.

Craig Elias:                    Because all of a sudden, there’s another opportunity. I’ve done some number crunching on this. If you start with a list of just 100 people and you follow job changes because 3% of people change jobs every single month, you can create hundreds of opportunities just by tracking and following job changes.

Chris Battis:                  That’s interesting. So Logan, we’ve had some monitoring on job positions open, right? But we haven’t done a lot on following people from where the job that’s open to where they went. That’s interesting, right?

Logan Kelly:                  Yeah, yeah. I mean our technology is more when somebody comes into a job, we get notified of it. So company, we’re tracking job change. But yeah, I like this idea, this all comes back to number seven, which is you ignore the five opportunities created by a bounced email. So, I like this framework. So Craig, I think we were probably in a place to wrap this thing up. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, so a lot of this stuff… So, this is my thing. 20 years in sales, always lucky that it stops and I analyze the business that I want. So, for the first time in 20 years I did something that was not what my sales managers taught me. All my sales managers had this theory, if you lose the business, you don’t lose the lesson. The challenge is if you lost the business, you lost because you didn’t have a really good relationship. If you don’t have a really good relationship, people are not going to tell you the truth. They’re just going to give an excuse and get out of the conversation.

Craig Elias:                    So, what I did when this happened in 2002, I went to the internet, I typed between quotes the phrase, lost sales analysis. So it’s those three words together with quotes around the outside and I found 50,000 pieces on the internet and I’m like, “I’m not going to read 50,000 pages on the internet.” But what I just did was something different. I analyze the business that I want. So I went back to the search, replace the word “lost” with the word “won,” W-O-N. I looked for the phrase “won sales analysis.” And the summer of 2002, when I searched for that phrase, how many pages do you think that we’re on the internet that talked about analyzing the business you win instead of the business you lose? Pick a low one.

Logan Kelly:                  No more than one.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, two. That was it.

Logan Kelly:                  Two. Wow.

Craig Elias:                    So, here’s what happens. When you win a piece of business that you want to replicate, these are the questions you need to go and ask. So talk to the person as far up as you can because this is where the problem gets defined. “What event or what events led up to this purchase?” that’s question number one. When you ask question number one, what I learned is they say tell you about event number two which is, when they could afford to pay for it? But by the time they could afford to pay for something, they’ve already decided what they’re going to buy. My argument is you, guys, have already decided what car you’re going to buy next, right? You already know. You’re waiting until you get there.

Craig Elias:                    So I’ve learned, I had to ask a second question, “When did these events or when did this event or when did this change happen?” Now, they’ll tell you about the first event. So now I know what brings me business. Question number three, “What made you choose us?” And if you shut up and listen, what you’re listening for is verbs. You’re listening for verbs that describe the value of being your customer, and this then becomes your value proposition. So when you call people, you don’t say, “Would you like to buy sales training?” you say, “Would you like to turn more of your B players into A players?” All right, so that’s question number three.

Craig Elias:                    Question number four is “What can we do to make it easier for people to become our customer?” This comes back to this RIPES thing. The five ways people justify, risk avoidance, image, productivity, expenses, simplicity or speed. The easier it is for someone to become your customer, the faster it will actually happen.

Craig Elias:                    So I’ll just give you an example, an office furniture place. People would show up in the showroom, one of their top salespeople phoned me up and said, “I hear you’re good at this. I need some help. I hate spending time on the showroom. What can I do?” And so, we went for coffee and I said, “Well, first of all, when people come into the store, you need to ask a question, not “What brings you in?” but “What brings you in today?” And then, before they leave, have them fill in a credit application. So when later on in the process, when they’re ready to buy, because you’ve already had them do the hard work while they’re motivated, then it’s just the easy work when they’re in a hurry.

Craig Elias:                    And the last question then would be, “Who else do you know who’s had a similar event that maybe I should talk to?”

Logan Kelly:                  Got to get those referrals. Got to get them.

Craig Elias:                    Yeah, but here’s the thing. I’m going to pick on you for a second, Logan. I don’t care about a referral. I don’t care about an introduction because, A, you’re my first customer. You’re a new customer. You’re like, “I don’t know you well enough to introduce you to my best friends.” I don’t care about a referral. I don’t even care about introduction. You don’t need to introduce me. I just need to know the names of people. And then I can go, “Hi, Logan. My name’s Craig. I got your name from Chris.” “Oh, Chris, how do you know Chris?” I don’t need. So, this is that whole thing about simplicity.

Craig Elias:                    If you put this requirement for an introduction or a referral in the way of someone who just became your customer, you’re less likely to get it. I just want a name.

Logan Kelly:                  Right, right. Yeah. I agree. I agree. Yeah. That hearkens me back to my car business days.

Chris Battis:                  All right, Craig. Well, this has been fabulous having you on the show. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy week. This has been informative. And also, I like how you showed your true Canadian colors there with the Zamboni.

Craig Elias:                    Well, if you ever come to Calgary and you want to go for a drive, we’ll go for a drive because I pitched us.

Chris Battis:                  I do. I love it.

Logan Kelly:                  Are you a Flames fan, by the way?

Craig Elias:                    I don’t have time to watch hockey.

Logan Kelly:                  Yeah? Good, good. Cool. Nice.

Craig Elias:                    Now, if you come to town and you want to go to a game, we can go to a game. It’s not as bad as Toronto or New York, so we can get tickets on occasion. And here’s the thing, for those that are listening, so if they send me a LinkedIn connection request, I will help them experience what I do when people send me a LinkedIn connection request because I think that’s an awesome opportunity to not try and sell somebody something but to add value and to stand out. And so, for those who are listening, Craig Elias, you’ll find me on LinkedIn, send me a connection request, watch what happens.

Chris Battis:                  All right, awesome. Thanks for tuning in to Intent Topics, everyone. I’m Chris Battis.

Logan Kelly:                  And I’m Logan Kelly. Thank you so much for tuning in. Please give us a five-star rating on whatever podcast that you listen on and we will see you next time.

Craig Elias:                    All right, take care.

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