EP 22 – Build Buyer Consensus With Buyer Enablement – Chuck Marcouiller
Presentation of the episode
He explains why and how sellers should build buyer consensus before they pitch their products using buyer enablement.
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Hi, everybody. I’m really happy to receive Chuck Marcouiller VP of revenue enablement at freightwaves. How are you doing Chuck?
It’s a real pleasure. And could you first introduce us to freightwaves?
Sure, absolutely. So I am Chuck Marcouiller. I’m the VP of revenue enablement at freigh waves. Freight waves is a supply and logistics company that has two sides. If you’re in the trucking or supply logistics industry at all. We were founded as a media company for global logistics market to help companies benchmark, analyze and monitor the global logistics marketplace.
And interesting enough as part of that, it required us to gather a lot of data on what was happening real-time in the supply chain so we could report on it in a meaningful way. As you know, when you watch TV, you want to see what’s happening in real-time. And so because of that, Gabriel, we all of a sudden started to gather a lot of data.
You know, what’s happening out there, you know, what’s happening with where is the freight what’s, where’s it going to what’s happening and what’s going on with the economy and our shippers. And so all of a sudden we had a lot of this data and our founder realized let’s take our data analysts, let’s put it together and wrap some technology around it. And then our software as a service side really became born and that was our second division sonar. And now we’re the only provider of real time supply logistics data to the marketplace, to shippers carriers and brokers as to what’s happening real time on the logistics supply chain.
Okay. And you’re kind of Bloomberg of a freights and logistic.
Yep. So if it’s moving in North America, we can tell you what’s happening out there in real time and give you a software that you can use if you’re a shipper or a carrier in order to be able to model that. Great. And I would focus on your title, which is revenue enablement.
What is the difference between revenue enablement and sales enablement?
Okay. Really interesting. Revenue enablement is really focusing on the complete buyer’s journey and not just the sales part or just the sales team. So that includes marketing, demand generation, new logo, sales expansion, sales renewals, and customer service.
Whereas when I think of sales enablement when I started doing that, it was just really focused on the new logo or sales team. And so enablement, whether it’s revenue enablement, or sales enablement is really the same thing in that we exist to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the revenue team through training technology and analytics and coaching as well.
It’s how we take that revenue team or sales team to the next level.
Great just for the audience to know, we will record two podcasts with Chuck. The first one today would be about buyer enablement. And the second one, it will be tomorrow or the next day of the publication, co-buying and co-purchasing experience. So I’m really happy to address these two subjects that are related together with you today and tomorrow. So let’s start with buyer enablement. Please share with me your passion about the topic buyer enablement.
I’m really passionate about this topic. Having been both a seller, a sales leader and an enablement, I’ve been around the sales side for 26 plus years. And so one of the things that I’ve learned is no one likes to be sold, but everybody likes to buy. It’s funny. When I run courses with new hires, one of the first things that I ask Gabriel is, you know, and I, and I’ll ask you the same question. Do you like working with salespeople as a buyer?
It depends on the seller, but if they push me too hard, I don’t like it.
Exactly. And it’s funny because I asked that to new hires and I said, raise your hand, if you like working with salespeople, none of them raised their hand. I’m like, wait a minute, hold up. You’re a salesperson you’re supposed to like salespeople. You’re supposed to like your own kind. What’s going on with this. And they go, oh, I don’t like these guys salespeople. I don’t like being pushy because it’s about their agenda. Exactly. And so buyer enablement is helping sellers realize that our one role, especially today in the digital age, is to help facilitate buyers through the buying process. You know, we exist because in the past my father was a seller, right. And in that time it was all about who had the information before the internet. Now with the internet, we don’t exist in order to be able to give information. We exist to give context to the information. So the real difference today is that the whole value of the seller has changed.
Okay. So what is different now than in the past?
So I would say, you know, from the buyer’s perspective, our value has changed from being in information. For the buyer what’s really changed is that the buyer has moved to more complex buying process in the sense that the buyer is now in sort of a consensus world.
And what I mean by that, Gabriel is that, you know, especially in software as a service, what we’re seeing is that most in medium to enterprise size company, that…I don’t know, from the time I was selling, you know, as a first time seller, the buying groups were like three to four to now on most deals we’re seeing eight to 10 people involved in the deals of which we as sellers are probably talking to two to three, meaning that the decision process has more fingers in it. And there has to be a consensus inside the organization. You know, oftentimes we’ll see that no decision is the most common decision in business to business sales processes.
And the reason for that is more often than not, they choose not to choose because the company itself has not really even defined what the problem is. They don’t even recognize or agree amongst themselves that, Hey, we’ve got an issue worthy of taking resources from marketing or selling or engineering or something else to invest in the problem of one specific group.
So the first thing that we’ve got to recognize and shift our focus on is really that consensus selling or we can help our buyers form that consensus first, before we really go pitching a product. Because a product value is defined by the receiver, not the giver. If they see no value in solving the problem or agree that there was a problem we’re solving, it does not matter what our product is or the bells and whistles and the features of functionality or support or how easy our implementation is. I don’t need it.
And you told me when we prepared the interview about the 3Cs that are necessary to succeed in building this consensus.
Yeah. There’s three Cs that I, you know, whenever I work with sellers these days that I really focus my programs around and that’s and this is sort of unique it’s consensus, clarity, and confidence. If you really want to break that no decision cycle, you have to really understand that you have to, as you do your discovery and you start having the conversations with the prospect is, is there truly a defined problem that they’ve gone ahead and defined and agreed upon internally? Is it just one person who’s going out and researching because aha it’s important to me, but no one else. I’m not only teaching sellers, but I also buy technology for my organization. And I know that when I have to buy something, I’ve got to get my fellow sales leaders because I’m in sales operations, sales enablement. I’ve got to get the departments that are going to agree to that. I have to get, you know, finance degree to it. I’ve got to get it to check off security. So if I don’t have all of those people, knowing that I’m going to go get a fill in the blank here, conversational intelligence tool, a content management system, a data effectiveness tool for the sales team. If they don’t agree that there’s a problem we’re solving with that and they don’t vote for it. My boss, the chief revenue officer is going to say Chuck I think you need to get your partners on board as to this investment of, you know, tens of thousands of dollars before you sit there and go down this road. So consensus has to be agreed upon. Do they recognize that this is a problem we’re solving or investing in? And two, with a consensus, do they agree on the type of solution? Do we, should we just hire another person internally to go do that internally? Should we write it ourselves. Should we buy a software? Or should we partner with an outside consulting group to sort of solve this for us? So consensus on, is there a problem and consensus on the type or family of the solution that has to agree first that the process. And then there’s the second seat, clarity and clarity because let’s face it the barrier to entry, thanks to AWS and Azure and all the rest you need, the barrier you used to be technology processing power. You know, a company like had to have IBM or they had to have these database server farms in order to be able to write this technology. But these days we can do partial leasing. You know, all of us can found a technology company fairly reasonably and get investments to start that up. So getting an entry now, it’s, you know, how is your technology different?
So I sit there and ask him, this is what I commonly ask sellers, if I asked you, you know, we all have TVs, what’s the difference between a Sony, a Samsung, and an LG ultra 4k for HDTV. Could you tell me the difference as a buyer? Do you know the difference by looking at them?
And if they told you if the Sony person said it has a two 40 refresh rate, six HTMI cables.
It doesn’t make a big difference for me.
Yeah. You’re just sitting there going, ah, that’s nice. Whatever. About a year and a half ago, my wife, my wife’s in marketing and she went, you know, we have a friend who has a home entertainment company. He put these theaters into nice homes and he came to us and he said, Hey, if you folks ever wanted to get, you know, upgrade your TV to a big screen, I can get you a killer discount. And he was right, about a thousand dollars less than what I could even get on Amazon. So it was like, oh, this is the time. So I started doing all the research, looking at all the websites, all the YouTube comparisons. So I was excited by this and I just started confusing myself. And God bless the women who love us and you know, our partners, whomever they may be, she sat there and looked at me and she goes, you just get out of the house cause you’re confusing yourself. So I went to best buy, you know, one of those retail stores. And I stood there in front of the wall of TVs and I’m looking at Sony and I’m looking at Samsung because I got to make a, you know, this great choice. I was going to get the ultimate big screen TV for, you know, downstairs. And I couldn’t tell the difference and the best buy, you know, employee salesperson comes up and he looks at me, he goes buying a TV and I’m like, well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? Yeah. Yes, I am. And he goes, can I help you? And I said, yep.
He goes, what level are you looking at? I said, I’m looking at the 72 inch here. And he said, okay, what are you comparing? And I said, I’m down to Samsung or Sony. He goes, can you tell the difference? I said, Nope, not really. This is going, I’ve got two questions for you. So only two questions? He says, yup. He goes, how dark is your room? And what are you gonna watch? And, you know, the inner sales enablement guy goes to me going, okay, this should be interesting. How is he going to… what’s he going to do with this? He goes, because here’s the thing that you’ve got to understand. Sony is a movie theater. They make movies.
And so everything that they design on their hardware is to enhance the movie experience. So they’re blacks are the blackest blacks, so that when you watch a Sony movie, you feel like you’re moving, their sound is DTS for that movie theater sound. So if you’ve got a dark room and you’re going to watch movies, Sony is the only way to go.
Now, Samsung recognizes that Sony is a movie theater and they don’t want to compete there, but they know that sitcoms are shown in a much dimmer frame and have a much different audio track. So if you’re going to watch sitcoms and by the way, in a bright room. You gotta go Samsung. So he said, it’s very simple. All you got to ask yourself, what am I going to watch? And how dark is your room? And he turned around and walked away and I go, oh my God, I spent hours watching reviews and YouTube videos on stupid stuff. When it all comes down to something very, very simple.
And it’s not clear in the review by the way.
Yeah, exactly. It’s nowhere in that stuff. So I needed a human being to sit there and just ask two very simple and basic questions.
So that’s clarity.
Clarity is whenever we sell something, it’s less about the features and functionality because features and functionality are pretty much par. When you’re in a competitive environment. I came from recruiting software prior to Freightways and everybody could take a resume. Everybody could do a database. 80-90% of all of the softwares had the same basic foundational capabilities. What the difference was was the nuanced or how they approached the marketplace. And so what we had to train our sellers to do was to say, okay, here’s the base that everybody has, but let’s focus on the three or four things that we’ve built our competitive difference on and see if they matter to you, if they do, we should do business.
If they don’t. Then that’s fine. Then this is going to be a price war. And we can talk about that, but I want to make sure that you understand what we do and why it matters to those that buy us uniquely for these specific items. And that’s what I mean by clarity. So they’ve got a consensus, understand what their problem is and the nuance of those.
Then clarity on how we’re uniquely different than everybody else, knowing that 80 plus percent everybody, every TV, you can show the exact same picture, but there is a little difference between Samsung and Sony.
And then finally, confidence. The last seat and what I would consider one of the most important. We have to understand that our customer is making a bet.
Whether if I buy you, I’m putting my reputation as the virus, the champion, who’s asking to bring your software or your service into my organization. Am I safe because again, a lot of buying is emotional. Can I trust you? Do I believe you? Are you a melt well-meaning product pusher, reeking of commission breath.
Meaning you’re only trying to tell me this so that I buy something and then you’re going to go take your commission check and go run away. I’ve been down this road before Gabriel. I’ve had people do this to me time and time again. Or are you really looking out for my best interests? Do you understand what my company can do?
And can I believe you and your company, are you going to follow through? Is this going to be easy to use? And so confidence is can we help the buyer in a way, because we have to know that this is going to be competitive. No one buys anything online or in-person without comparing it to at least two to three other options.
So can we create confidence that I am acting on your best interest and helping you by the way that you want to buy. Or am I that person when you said it at the beginning, when I asked the question, do you like working with salespeople? Am I just a pushy person that they’re going to buy, despite me being their salesperson or they buy because I’m their salesperson.
Why do you put confidence in the third C and not the first one? Because, many people would put C as a confidence one as the beginning of the relationship.
You know that’s a great question. I put consensus first because if they don’t agree, there is a problem. If I don’t need it, you know, you could trust me. And I could be the greatest car salesperson in the world. But if you live in downtown Manhattan, you don’t need a car. That’s too expensive. You know, I can walk everywhere.
It’s the same in Paris.
Yeah, exactly. Okay, great. You have a fabulous car. It has all the great belts in. Yup. That’s a beautiful car. Are you going to buy it? Nope. Why? But I will give it to you for a great price. Nope. So.
And how do you build this receipt?
Well, the key for building consensus is you have to start off with a great discovery. You have to start off the relationship and understand where the person is through their natural buying process. Are they in the awareness, selection or education process? When I say awareness is, do they, are they just, do they feel discomfort yet? Have they defined the problem yet? Or are they really in the selection process? Meaning I’m trying to find somebody. And so consensus is, is it asking great questions to realize how they identified it with their team?
Cause there’s always a team. Because if they haven’t, then that should be clue number one. Go get your team and I’ll help you and give you understanding and have you defined the problem in a way that makes sense across your team. And great sellers, know the words and get the, your, what happens along that process.
And then it’s listening and responding and not pushing, but knowing the steps that have to go along the way to make sure that all of the steps are covered, a great seller once told me and you too probably. You’re going to go through all steps of the sales process, whether you do it before the sale or after the sale, but you will go through all steps of the sales process.
No, I didn’t know it, but it’s true.
It’s true. And how do you build clarity? it’s really about your positioning and you made the example of Sony and LG before so you have to be clear on what is the difference.
Yes. And you have to know your difference in relation to the competitors that your buyer is evaluating. And so it’s we as professional salespeople have to be able to pivot our messages, according to the circumstances of how our buyer is buying. So if I’m buying against a large ERP, there’s one way. If I’m buying against the direct competitor, another way, if I’m buying against doing nothing or keeping in house, I have to be clear and know what is the competitive advantage because there’s three pieces. It’s important to the customer. It’s unique to me and it’s defensible against the competition. So if it meets those kinds of things, I should be able to pivot and make that message clear to help somebody go, oh, I get it. But the end result that we have to keep in mind is, can the person that I’m talking to do, I make it simple and clear enough, what are you going to watch? And how bright is your room, so that they can take it to the next person to help make the decision. In my case, my wife. Can I take that and then go tell my wife? Well, ultimately let’s face it, in my house she is the ultimate decision maker. So I get my TV. If I can help her understand that this is really a good idea. She loves me. She’ll let me get it. But ultimately. She’s going to be the one that says, ah, yeah, come on honey. We can’t do this. So, you know, it’s one of those things that we have with clarity and confidence. It helps them to be able to sell to the other people who are part of that consensus process, which we’ll never talk to.
Do you have some tips for that?
I think that the confidence kind of piece is an art unto itself. It’s how you maintain the integrity and consistency because how do we build, it’s the psychology of trust, how do we build trust in strangers? And now even in a virtual world?
That, what we say is consistent because we have to understand how people buy today and then enhance that buyers process through consistency. Meaning we understand that people go to the digital world in order to verify anything that we say in the person to person world, and build digital experience and build the experience along the way. So that they can go back and forth and that it’s it’s resources. And we use tools along the process in order to be able to create that experience. But we have to be conscientious of the experience. And let’s not think that we’re driving the bus, but we’re the mentor who’s helping somebody through the process.
Gone are the days when we within sales said, hey Gabriel, if you want to buy my thing, you have to go through my sales process and I’m going to tell you what we’re going to do next. Buyers no longer tolerate that. If we try to control it and put a very rigid process in place, they’re going to go. Yeah, no thank you. I’m out. So we have to listen and respond, but create a process that is logical, but fuels their needs and understands their needs as a buyer. And gives them the right items at the right time in order to accomplish what they need to do. What we know is a good soundbite process and that builds trust, but it goes back to the fundamentals. Are we listening and responding? You’d be shocked how often sellers, even at the enterprise level, forget to listen and actually respond.
Okay. True. True. I agree with you. If we have to sum up what is buyer enablement?
Buyer enablement, I would say, is very simple. It’s teaching your sales team to understand how people buy and then arming them with the process skills and tools to create the best buying experience possible for the product you’re trying to sell.
That’s a great definition. Do you want to complete something on this episode?
No, thank you for the opportunity to share my three Cs. This is sort of the drum that I’m beating with. I’m passionate about this. And I think that if we pay attention and shift our sales mentality and sales teams, I’ve seen more… When salespeople get it, and we start thinking about these things we create better experiences and we become more successful in what we’re trying to do as we go through.
Great. In the next episode, we will follow our discussion with Chuck on co-buying and co-purchasing, which is a tactic to put in place in order to succeed in buyer enablement. 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 to your feedback. Share the show and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you don’t miss any episode. This episode was brought to you by Salesdeck.io, the virtual selling platforms that increase your sales team efficiency and sales readiness, enables remote management, and vemps operational excellence. Book your Salesdeck.io demo today to discover how you can close more deals with engaging and better prep customer meetings. Thanks for that Chuck. It was a pleasure.
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