EP 16 – The Winning Process for Virtual Selling – Brent Keltner
Presentation of the episode
On the sixteenth episode of the Virtual Selling podcast, our guest is Brent Keltner, President of Winalytics and author of The Revenue Acceleration Playbook.
He gives us his winning process for virtual Selling.
About Brent Keltner
Brent Keltner, Ph.D. is founder and President of Winalytics LLC, a go-to-market- and revenue acceleration consultancy. They help clients reach their top revenue growth potential by shifting from product-driven selling to focusing on an authentic buyer and customer journey. they help growth stage to enterprise customers in a variety of sectors, including education, human capital, business operations, retail, marketing communications.
Before starting Winalytics, Brent spent more than decade years as a revenue leader in enterprise to early stage companies, including Kaplan, Eduventures, Plus Delta Partners and CollegiateLink. He began his career as a Ph.D. social scientist and spent 10 years conducting qualitative research interviews at Stanford University and the RAND Corporation.
To learn more about Brent Keltner and Winalytics click on the links below :
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Hi, I am very happy today to be with Brent Keltner, who is president of Winalytics and author of the revenue acceleration playbook.
I’m happy to be the first to do that with you. Can you tell us a little bit about Winalytics and your book?
Yeah, we, we, uh, call ourselves a go-to-market and revenue acceleration consultancy. We do a lot of work with sales teams on sales positioning, and sales process, but in the current environment, everything a sales team does has to be connected to a holistic buyer and customer journey.
So for us, it all starts with how do you position value on your website and your prospecting, then your sales conversations and closing, and then your customer success and expansion. So we think go to market strategy has to take priority over sales strategy.
Okay, great. And, and about the revenue acceleration playbooks, it is related to your business I believe.
Yeah. It’s a hundred percent on that model. The only thing I would add in addition to thinking about a holistic go to market strategy for us. We think about shifting from traditional selling, which is product driven selling it’s about us, our product, or our accomplishments to what we think of as more authentic conversations, which anchor on your buyers success.
So it’s about your buyer. Why is your buyer on the call? How can you help them see you as part of a more successful future? And so every buyer interaction should be deepening the sense of how do I make you more successful?
Yeah, it’s, it’s nice because in France, I have a written a book too, which is acquisition strategy design. And the first part of the book and the, of the methodology is to understand the buyer journey and to formalize it and to have each step of the buyer journey, then to, to think of the solutions that you can have to make the buyer progress in this journey. And it could be inbound or outbound. It could be digital, but also offline.
And it’s really easy when you see the way your customer is buying and you understand the way your customer is buying and the decisions they make, to it’s more easier to make them progress. And , to be a good sales person at the end of the funnel and at the end of the process, because you know them and you know what they have done before.
So we really, really share that. And this holistic view of the process.
And what do you do today to help sales team, to have to do virtual selling and to, to make the process evolve. What type of advice, what type of math you use for being able to provide what you sell at Winanalytics.
Yeah. There’s a couple of things. We always talk about the human, correct. Build a human connection and uh, you know, share what you like. Like we did at the outset, Hey, I’ve traveled to Paris and I have teenage kids. Right? I mean, notice what’s, uh, what people say about, you know, I, I did a post on this and somebody had said, Hey, I’m going to be a soccer grandma for the weekend, right. Or I’m going to my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. So, you know, in a virtual environment, we don’t, we can’t sit together with a person. So it’s that much more important just to find ways to build human connection, uh, is one thing. But the second thing we always say is you got to get much better at being very intentional in qualifying. Mr. or Mrs. Buyer, why are you on the phone? What are you hoping to get out of it? How can I make the best of your time at the beginning and then at the end, um, and you know, this is what I heard about how we could work together. This is what I’m going to do, but what are you able to do? What are the things you, these are some things I could suggest, what can you commit to doing next? So being more human, but also being more kind of process oriented, and really confirming are people engaged or not?
And so the transitions for you are very important.
Transitions. That’s a great way to say it. Transitions are very important that we intentionally transition into the call. What is our, what’s our goal for the call? How are we going to spend our time today? So we spend our time and then we talk about the last 10 minutes, which is, let’s say, let’s go agree. We’re coming to time. This is what I’ve been hearing. Are you hearing a similar thing? And what do we want to agree on doing next. Transitions are really important in virtual selling and that we take ownership of structuring those.
Yeah. And how do you structure them with your customer, or do you, did you design playbooks? Do you make trainings? So what, what is the way to really have a good structure of this transition?
Yeah, no, it’s a great question. And we talk a lot about three part meetings.
Think about your meetings in three parts.
That the beginning is really, I mean, yeah, we’re going to do some introductions, get to know each other. We always talk about the whole purpose of that first part is doing a little bit of a value discovery. Like why are they there and how, how can we make, how can we make them?
So if you, you lead a marketing agency, you know, are they there because they’re not getting enough leads or the lead quality is not good with our ideal buyer or they want to explore a new segment or they want to invest in. Why are they there and what are the gaps around what they’re trying to accomplish?
So, Let’s spend some time on that. Often people will say, well, you invited the meeting. Okay, we’ll do a 32nd 62nd commercial, build a little menu of things you could talk about and then ask them, how should we spend our time? So the very first part is what will be most valuable to them? How do they want to spend their time?
Middle part is then mapping or linking to that. Right? We’ve all been on demos 20, 30, 40 minutes. You know, a lot of teams just talk and talk and talk and talk, and they have no idea why they’re sharing those parts of their product or those parts of the company’s story. So middle part mapped to what they care about and stop every five minutes and confirm if they still care.
And do they, you know, are they seeing value? So that’s the middle part. And then the last part is, okay, we’re coming to the end. Where are we linked up on value? And what, what can we do next? So we talk about value discovery. Why are they there value mapping map to that value with your product and your success stories, value confirmation, where do we see the value?
What will we do about it next?
And what do you do next? That’s true because it seems that you have done everything in the first meeting.
Well, usually we know in a first meeting is often with a single person. Or maybe a couple of people. And a successful first meeting, we identify a champion who says, yeah, you know what we haven’t been doing so well on our SEO channel in your case.
And we, we know there’s a lot more opportunity in the mid market. We’ve been enterprise. So we want to do more work on there. It sounds like you could help us. And then you’re going to say, okay, well, who else would we have to bring into the conversation? So first meetings are usually you need to get to what we call a success statement with a champion.
Second meeting is then who else has to care about that? And honestly, it’s our job to come to that meeting with, this is what we heard in a first meeting, how other people react. Are you aligned? Do you have different priorities? So the second meeting you do the same thing over again. But it’s now, can I get a buying group aligned around what they care about so I can present the right capabilities and stories so I can confirm how we move forward.
And then for us, the moving forward is if I get alignment there, you got a third set of meetings where, okay, what’s the economic case, you know,
So the economic case comes at the third meeting in this view.
Starts, it should start in the second meeting. What’s our business case for working together. If what would it be worth for you to, you know, increase your SEO performance by 5%?
You know what would be a good outcome? If we started the middle market, if you’ve got five new customers this year, 10 new customers this year, what would be a good outcome? Okay. Let’s think about. What that could be worth, or it might not be a financial it’s if we could bring our platform, how much time could it save your team, going to get your team better collaborating on these campaigns. Is there an emotional win? Is there a team? When am I removing a pain? So let’s capture, why are you going to make an investment with us. ‘ cause before you write a proposal, you got to lead with what that outcome is that they’re investing in. Otherwise it’s just a new pricing item. So second meeting is building alignment, in your buying group and getting them to agree what the success statement is. At the end of that, ideally, we’re starting to say, okay, what, you know, what are you investing in? And then before our proposal, it’s okay what’s the investment thesis. You’re getting this much search engine optimization. You’re taking this much pain away from your team. You’re getting this much better collaboration. You’re becoming a hero to your C-suite because you know, this is one of their top priorities.
I was on a call with a client earlier today where the C-suite has said, we need more discovery calls, every call we’re going to every two weeks we’re going to report out on that. So you can bet every time we go back. We’re going to say, okay, how are we doing on discovery calls for each team member as a team? What else can we do to move the needle on that?
Okay. And the search meeting is really to co-design the economic metrics with a buyer group?
That’s right. Co-design and probably a pre-proposal or a proposal meeting.
Okay. So you prepare the proposal before or you co-create the proposal during this meeting?
Yeah. We usually like to co-create the proposal with our champion before the meeting, get them to kind of review it and say yes, or they might want to do follow up questions to say yes that we’re ready to go to the buying group.
And this one should be the closing meeting.
And then once you have the closing meeting, and I would think of them as phases, cause you could have one or two meetings in each. I might have to have a follow-up with my champion to get aligned, but yes, it’s about aligning with my champion. It’s about aligning with the buying group and getting to the kind of starting the business case. It’s about then scoping together the investment thesis and getting to a close. One of the things I think many teams don’t do well and in a virtual environment, it’s too easy to just say, oh, I’m going to show up to this meeting and figure it out. Use your time with a champion before the buying group meeting, what are their priorities going to be? So I already go in smart about things I can talk about, stories I can share years your time before the proposal meetings to build that business case. You don’t just show up and wing it. You, if you have a champion, that person should work with you the whole time to prep that next meeting so you’re advancing rather than figuring out.
So in, in this process, what is the difference, uh, between in-person meetings you were doing before as a virtual meetings that you are doing now? Is there some, some piece of the meeting or some piece of the preparation that should be done differently?
Well, I think that we talked about two things that I think you have to be much more conscious of in a virtual meeting is the rapport building. Right. It’s just building some human connection because in an in-person meeting, you walk around, you know, you shake people’s hands, you stand by the coffee, have some drinks, you comment on the office. If it’s in their office. Pictures of their kids or pictures of their grandkids or pictures of the parents. There’s a more natural process and human, you know, kind of karma is just to say, but zoom meetings, I’m on a blur background. You’re in a white backgrounds have to work harder.
Yeah, because in the evening, I’m not in my main office. I am in a room where I don’t disturb the family. So during the day I have a very nice background behind.
You don’t distract people honestly so you’re smart, but you got to do a lot more rapport building at the end, at the beginning. And then at the end, this really, I mean, like if you’re sitting in somebody’s room, they’re not just going to run out the door, they’re going to give you a hand, Hey, I have to go to our next meeting and you can stop them and say, but you have, we all have a zoom meeting. Okay. I got to go to my next meeting. See ya. And the economic buyer just left and you have no idea what they’re thinking. So you have to be much more intentional about during the meeting, getting everybody’s input, calling on them in person. Is there anything else you would add? Do you have any reactions? Gabriel? You’ve been quiet today. Jeff. You’ve been quiet. Kim. You’ve been quiet. Is there anything you would add to the group? And then, Hey, we got 10 minutes we come at a time. So you have to at the beginning, much more rapport building, and then you have to be much more intentional about qualifying
Yeah. Well, what you mean by being more intentional about qualifying? Why it’s so different between in-person and virtual?
Well, I think it’s the, the, so in person, right? People can’t just leave at the end of the meeting. Yeah.
Generally, they’re going to say, Hey, I have to go to a next meeting. And also when you’re sitting around a table with people, there’s just kind of a natural human dynamic, where if somebody hasn’t said anything, it’s kind of feels kind of strange, right? You got a group of six.
So does these things, what you mean by qualifying? It’s really, uh, being sure that everybody has expressed himself and that, uh, as having said what you means, okay. Sorry for my incomprehension
So they either shown interest or they’ve honestly shared concern.
Okay. Okay. So you really want you to be sure that everybody express itself.
Yeah. Everybody expresses themselves. Are they seeing this as valuable or do they have some concerns that you can talk through right then, as opposed to later on, they email the person organized and said, that’s garbage for this, that, and the other reason.
And you have seen some difference in terms of deal velocity, account value of being in person and of being virtual?
I think the biggest difference. I’m not sure on deal velocity um, if it helps one way or another, but I think in a virtual environment, a land and expand mindset becomes a lot more important. Right. So, um, I’m just you, again, go to your example of, you know, rather than trying to sell your, the whole suite of services, um, you say, Hey, we’ll start on SEO because the SEO manager seems really excited. I heard maybe there’s a use case for going into the middle market. I hear they need a website refresh, but where I can get gone today is the, uh, SEO manager. I land there and then I’ll look to expand, uh, usually to sell bigger bundled deals. You have to spend time with each person and you can do that going around an office.
You can do that going around a room. It’s a lot harder to do that virtually.
So you mean that you need to focus, uh, on the first demand of your customer on the first need. And don’t try to do more than that for the first deal.
That’s right. I mean, I think focus on the immediate need areas where they clearly are saying yes, this would be helpful. Yes, we have budget. Yes. We’re interested. Take those and keep going.
Okay. So that’s great advice. Um, do you have other differences between in-person and virtual, uh, meeting and way of selling that you want to emphasize? Because we are transitioning to the end at the moment. So…
I think the other big thing is, um, if you think about, just look, everybody who is in a sales role, whether you’re a BDR or you’re a sales professional, you got to always own the top of your funnel.
We all have to be prospecting all the time. And when you were in an office and you could kind of call and call or whatever, and then walk down the hall and have a water cooler conversation, kind of take a break or compare notes. I mean, that was a lot easier than now. We’re at our desks. Often on our own during the day.
And so, you know, just organize some, uh, check-in blocks, 15 minutes sprint, beginning of the end of the day. How did it go? I mean, intentionally build some community and collaboration around prospecting, cause it’s hard and don’t feel isolated.
So really this idea of still being a team and having time to sit together and to be motivated together.
Yeah, I agree with you. That’s very important. Uh, thanks a lot, Brent. It was very, really interesting. This episode of the virtual selling podcast is over. Thanks for sticking around. Join us twice a week for a new episode, with new stories and challenges of giants in the field. If you enjoyed today’s episode, we are always listening for your feedback and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you don’t miss any episodes.
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Thanks a lot, Brent.
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