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Growth Partner at Emergence Capital | Former VP of Sales Productivity & Enablement at Box
60% of well-qualified deals will end in no decision due to the fear of change or choice paralysis.
Why? Salespeople fail to turn sales discovery calls into actual business conversations.
Doug Landis joins us for this episode of Closing Time to review the steps to building a real business conversation before the discovery call. He’ll also share discovery call tips for perfect execution and how to help buyers overcome status quo bias. FYI: This requires homework.
This proven process will get you past the “why change” question (Part 1) and set you up for success in the subsequent Closing Time discussion (Part 2) – the “why now.”
During Insightly’s 2022 sales kickoff meeting in Las Vegas, Doug Landis introduced his Business Conversation Framework, which aims to change the way in which every single seller engages with prospects or customers. One of the startling statistics he shared during the event was that 60% of well-qualified deals will end in no decision. This means that at least half of the deals sitting in a pipeline that appear to be well-qualified and active opportunities may not push through.
As a go-to-market leader, it’s essential to consider this statistic and view the pipeline through this lens. This allows for the prioritization of deals that have a higher than 50% probability of actually pushing through. However, it’s important to note that just because a deal doesn’t push through, it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t close in the future. It may close at a later time than expected or not close at all.
By changing the way in which sellers approach engagements with prospects or customers, it can alter their behavior and prioritization of deals. This also means rethinking the current discovery and qualification frameworks, which may not be effective from a buyer’s perspective.
Using Doug Landis’ Business Conversation Framework can help sellers better engage with prospects and customers and increase the chances of successful deals.
As a seller, it’s essential to prepare before a discovery call to avoid frustrating buyers with aimless conversations. To make the call more effective, conduct research beforehand on the buyer’s position and the challenges they face in making decisions. Understanding the buyer’s priorities and obstacles within their organization is crucial.
People often resist change, making decision-making challenging due to preference stability. Approaching prospects requires helping them overcome their fear of change. Address these issues early in the conversation to prevent wasting time. Conducting research ensures a productive and meaningful conversation that leads to a more successful outcome.
When it comes to making sales, buyers often have a bias toward sticking with what they know. They might be hesitant to consider a new solution and whether or not it can truly solve their problem. As a seller, it’s important for you to recognize this bias and learn how to overcome it.
The first step for buyers is to assess their current situation and what maintaining the status quo really means. If they choose to do nothing, what impact will it have on their organization? It’s crucial for buyers to fully understand their existing system before making a decision.
As a seller, it’s essential for you to focus on why the current system is not effective and why it will not be in the future. This helps buyers become more comfortable with the idea of change and overcome their bias toward the status quo. However, you must also understand that buyers are taking a risk when they decide to switch to a new solution. They need to evaluate if it’s the right investment and if they want to present it to their colleagues. Therefore, the best thing you can do as a seller is to provide all the necessary information to buyers and help them feel confident in their decision-making process.
Here are three key points that Doug Landis recommends bringing into every conversation with buyers:
1. Recognize that the process of convincing a buyer to make a change may involve multiple conversations.
2. Highlight that the buyer has a choice in the matter and that the decision-making process may be challenging due to the many options available.
3. Address the practical considerations of implementing a new solution, such as how difficult it may be to get buy-in from the entire organization and justify the purchase to the CFO.
By bringing these points to the table and working with the buyer to help overcome their status quo bias, the goal is to help them make a decision, even if it means deciding not to partner with your company. The worst outcome is for the buyer to be indecisive, which isn’t suitable for anyone involved.
When preparing for a sales call, it’s important to follow a business framework that allows you to have a point of view about the prospect’s world and a hypothesis about what’s going on in their industry. The conversation should revolve around getting the prospect to validate or refute your hypothesis. It’s crucial to differentiate yourself from competitors and demonstrate knowledge about the industry and the prospect’s company.
During the conversation, you should introduce examples of other customers who have benefited from your product or service. This social proof helps to demonstrate the value you can bring to the prospect’s company. By following this framework, you can move from being a sales rep to an instant consultant who adds value to the conversation. By demonstrating your knowledge and research skills, you can build trust and credibility with the prospect.
Did you know that 60% of well-qualified deals will end in no decision? We’ve got tips to overcome the dreaded no decision in this episode of Closing Time. Hi, I’m Chip House CMO at Insightly. Welcome to Closing Time, the show for go-to-market leaders. I’m joined today by Doug Landis. Doug has many years in B2B sales and currently coaches SaaS businesses through his role as growth partner at Emergence Capital He’s also the former chief storyteller from Box. Welcome, Doug. Thanks, Chip. Great to be here. So, Doug, you shared your business conversation framework at our sales kickoff meeting this spring in Las Vegas. So I’m super excited to dig into that in a bit. But let’s start with this stat that just truly shook the room at that event, which was 60% of well-qualified deals will end in no decision. So how can a go-to-market team use that knowledge to their benefit? Yeah, it’s a frightening statistic if you think about it. And look it could be 40%, 50%, 60%, whatever it may be. The reality is that at least half of the deals that are sitting in your pipeline right now that look like well-qualified active opportunities most likely will end up in no decision. And the reality of that is frightening. You know if I’m a go-to-market leader I need to have that in the back of my head and I need to be looking at my pipeline with that lens to determine which of these deals have a higher than 50% probability of actually pushing. Now the reality is it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not going to close. They may close six months down the road.. They may close a year down the road. They may close a little later than what you originally anticipated or expected. Or sometimes they may not close at all. They may just choose not to actually solve for this problem or make this a priority ever If you choose to look at your pipeline with that lens, then it’ll change maybe some of the behaviors that you have in terms of prioritizing which deals to work, but also even going further back, maybe it’ll change the way in which you approach an engagement with a prospect in the first place. And that’s my goal. I want to change the way in which every single seller engages with a new prospect or even an existing customer, to be frank, because the current approaches, and what I’m going to call kind of these discovery frameworks or qualification frameworks, in my mind as a buyer don’t work. Well, let’s let’s start there if we can, Doug, because, you know, as a CMO, I field a lot of inbound email and phone calls and things like that. And then I end up, you know, getting on the phone with different salespeople trying to pitch me on their software or whatever. Right. And it often starts out with this dreaded long discovery call where you don’t really know where it’s headed. So, you know, and it’s kind of uncomfortable, I would think, for them. And it’s uncomfortable for the buyer too, because I don’t really have any understanding of where that is going. You know. It’s uncomfortable for everyone by the way, we all hate it.. The sellers hate it, SDRs hate it. You know, buyers hate it. And by the way, you’re targeted because you’re a marketing leader and you have budget.. So that’s what we’re taught, right? Marketing leaders, you have money to spend. So let’s go after you. So, yeah, it’s an uncomfortable experience for all of us. It is. And so, I mean, you have a lot of thoughts about how we can change that into a much more productive, real business conversation. But it involves some homework for the rep, right? Yes. Yes. It does. And you know, it’s funny because we’ve been talking about doing your homework for ages. It’s never not been a thing. You’ve never not said, well, don’t do homework. Just show up and throw up. Right. Like no one ever teaches that. But the reality is, I think, you know, we need to be a little bit more explicit on what that actually means to do the homework. So to just contextually speaking, if I’m reaching out to a prospect, let’s say. I’m reaching out to engage with you, the first thing that’s really really important for me to understand is buying. Being in your position, buying a solution to solve a problem is much more difficult than we give it credit because there’s a lot of risk in making a decision. You have 18,000 priorities. How do you determine what should be in the top three or four? It usually that’s predicated on what’s coming from your boss or even the board or shareholders, whatever it may be. But the reality is, is you have to overcome certain biases in your own self and even in your own organization. And I think the biggest hurdle as sellers that we all have to overcome is this fear change. Now, you may do a ton of homework. You may talk to your peers, you may realize like, wow, this is a hair on fire problem that we really need to solve. But the idea of change, it’s so daunting for so many people in an organization that it’s like that wins, often. We call this preference stability. Change is scary. And driving change in an organization is really difficult because, you know,. I don’t care how easy your solution is, you know, if I’m saying like, you know, it’s the greatest thing, look at it. Look, it’s a cup. You just pour something in it, drink. It’s that easy, you know, like, yes. Yes. But this requires me to only use one hand. I’m used to using two.. Oh, no. What do I do? I mean, that’s a really poor example. But the reality is you’re changing a behavior and then you start thinking about changing the behavior of hundreds, if not thousands of people in your organization. And, you know, the level of risk goes up pretty significantly. So that’s one thing is as sellers, we have to recognize that any time you’re reaching out to a prospect, the idea of changing behaviors is frightening. And that is a primary reason for why deals end up at no decision because not only do. I have to get you comfortable with change, but then you have to get everybody else, all of your constituents in a buying group that’s usually involved in making a decision, comfortable with change. So that’s that’s a big deal. That’s a really big deal. In addition to that, let’s just say you’re out doing your homework and I’ll just use a simple example. I mean, I’m a golfer, so all of a sudden my game goes sideways. I’m like, oh, maybe I need new clubs. Has anybody ever tried looking for new golf clubs recently? There are thousands of them. What do I use? So I go and I have to test them all and I go, oh, my gosh. And guess what? I think I’ll just stick with my clubs because I can’t make a decision because they all said they going to make my game better. But truthfully, my game sucks because it’s all up here. Reality is, I have too many options, just like you as a buyer, you have a lot of different options in terms of how you may want to tackle this problem and how you may want to solve it. So there’s two giant hurdles as a seller. We have to acknowledge and understand going into every conversation the likelihood that this deal or this opportunity may end up in dead no decision is predicated on the fact that change is scary and hard for people, and you have a lot of options. And if we don’t acknowledge those two factors early on in a conversation, then all we’re doing is trying to push a boulder uphill. Yeah, yeah. 100%, you know. But by the way,. I’ve seen a lot of people buy new clubs and get worse, so it definitely doesn’t help. Occasionally I play better with the rental clubs for some reason. I don’t know why. Anyway. And then you go home, you want to buy them and then they don’t work as well. It’s like what happened? You’re spot on. So but anyway, so back to I think when I sitting from where I sit,. I guess it’s not just the fear of change, right? Because certainly as you know, a leader in an organization, you have have to make that kind of decision critically, you know, and so you’re sort of biased to status quo, sort of evaluating how bad is my pain? Do I think that this person that. I’ve never met can truly solve my pain? And, you know, it’s kind of that balance, don’t you think? I think what you said is really astute. The first thing, by the way, that most buyers need to understand is what their status quo actually is, right? So there’s a problem oftentimes when we view a problem and it’s something that it’s out there kind of outside of ourselves, and one of the things is buyers. I challenge all buyers to do is to take a step back and evaluate what is my current state, what is that status quo. If I choose to do nothing, what does that actually mean? That we’re doing within our organization? And how do we define that and how do we quantify that? Because it’s hard to make a change away from something if you don’t understand what that thing actually is, that you’re changing away from. And so as a seller, it’s important to recognize that, yes, you have a status quo bias, and as a buyer, your job is to try and overcome that status quo bias, which basically means whatever it is that you’re introducing has to be so significantly better than what I’m currently doing. But oftentimes we just focus on that what is better, and we don’t focus on enough on what you’re currently doing and why that’s so bad and why it won’t continue to work for you. Because the more you can focus on that, the more you can help your buyers become more comfortable with this idea of change and overcoming this status quo. The status quo exists because we realize it’s going to be really is this the one thing that I want to place a bet on? Right? Is this the thing that I want to go to all of my peers and bring to the table to say I’m placing a bet on, you know, making this investment or changing this the way in which we do business and this part of our organization. And that’s that introduces a bunch of risk. Now, as an executive, as a leader, you have a much better sense of where and when to, you know, leverage those asks and to make those requests. As a seller, we don’t really know how you think about that. So we’ve got to kind of earn the right to get to that level of conversation so that we can understand, well, is this really something you really want to take a risk on? And to be honest, if I’m a seller, the three things I’m going to bring into every single conversation, number one,. I’m just acknowledge the fact that, Chip, look, we’re going to go through this song and dance. We’re going to have a series of conversations because that’s what we’re doing. And look at the end of our, our dance here, there’s a greater than 50% chance that you’re going to stick with what you’re currently doing, number one. Number two, maybe you’re going to challenge me on that and say, well, why would I want to do that? Why would we even be talking? Well, because the reality is, is you’ve got choice in the matter. And the choice is hard because you’ve got options. And now how do I prioritize and identify who is actually telling me the truth. And then the third thing is, well, then I have to realize, well, how difficult is this going to be to implement and drive usage across the entire organization? Because your boss right now, the CFO, is asking every single executive to validate and justify acquisitions that are purchases that are being made right now because everyone’s kind of in cost cutting mode or much more cost conscious in today’s environment. And so, you know, the question is, is like, OK, how do you justify the usage of that? In the CFO’s minds, it’s adoption is the new ROI because that means you’re actually getting real value in the usage out of whatever you’re introducing. So I want to just bring those to the table and say, listen, our job together is to help us to overcome your status quo bias. Our job together is to help you,. Chip, just make a decision. And by the way, that decision could mean not partnering with us. And I’m OK with that. But at least you make a decision because I don’t want this this experience that you’re going through right now to end up in no decision because that’s not good for you or anybody. I mean, you talk about sort of setting those expectations at the beginning of a call, you know, and what kind of specific words should people use? I mean, just what you were using there? Or do you have a way to sort of introduce that, that feels comfortable and normal in a conversation? OK, so prepping for a conversation with a prospect. I want to walk you through the framework that, you know, when we say do your homework, this is the framework that is important to follow because walking into a conversation with anyone at this point, instead of following some sort of qualification or discovery framework, I want you to walk into a conversation following this business framework, which means you have to have a point of view about what’s going on in their world and a hypothesis about what’s going on in the world. And the conversation is really all about getting you, Chip, to validate or refute my hypothesis. That’s it. I’m not coming in with a whole long list of questions. I’m just going to share. I put myself in your shoes and I’m going to share what I think might be going on in your world and why you might want to continue this conversation to evaluate maybe changing from what you’re currently doing. That’s kind of the end goal. Yeah. So you’re, let’s just say you’re a CMO of a manufacturing company. I’m going to choose Casper Mattresses. Don’t know much about them.. I just came up with it. So I’m trying to sell to you and engage with you. So the first thing I want to think about what’s going on in the industry, you’re in the manufacturing industry for mattresses. Huh, interesting. I know in manufacturing there’s supply chain issues. I know there’s a ton of pressure in terms of products, and I’m also thinking about the way in which you engage with customers and prospects. So there’s a ton of pressure on the industry. And there’s also, by the way, you have a lot of competitors and everybody sells these new roll up in a bag mattresses. So now how do you differentiate yourself?. Now let’s think about the company. Company’s been doing really well direct to consumer, is actually, it works well in this kind of economic environment. So OK, maybe you’re focusing on growth but you want to be mindful of your costs. And also there’s some issues around supply chain. So as a company. I can imagine you’re doing well, but maybe there’s some pressure, outside pressure. You as the CMO, you’ve got to differentiate yourself against your competitors. You’re looking for ways in which you can continue to drive all of your marketing efforts and actually validate your spend. OK, cool. Now let’s talk about your current state of what you’re doing, let’s say I’m trying to sell you a marketing automation platform. I recognize the fact that I can probably identify what you’re currently using. And what I really want to get into is why might you want to change away from what you’re currently using? And that’s and that’s it. That’s pretty straightforward. And what I want to also bring to the conversation are some examples of other customers you know, I was. Yeah, social proof, right? Yeah. Yeah. I was talking to the CMO over. Sleep Train, and, you know, they were telling me that, you know, while they actually have physical stores, they’re really moving a lot more in this direct to consumer model because at the end of the day, they recognize that they can keep their costs down so if you follow that framework, then you end into the conversation with a hypothesis. Right. So, Chip, my hypothesis, This is how you would say it. As I was preparing for this conversation,. I was thinking a lot about your business recognizing the fact that you’re in this direct to consumer business in the world of manufacturing, kind of worried about supply chain and maybe your costs are going up because costs are going up everywhere.. So how are you, how are you keeping, how does that align with your brand? And as the CMO in an organization where your brand really matters because you want to get the attention of your customers, that whatever technology you’re using to identify who you should target, is critical to you. Recognizing the fact that you’re a Marketo customer because I did a little bit of research. I’m curious, how is that working out for you? Why would you ever want to change away from using Marketo? Yeah, you know, Doug, I think the thing I love about this framework is it moves you from the sales rep to sort of instant consultant, right? You’re instantly adding value and you’re demonstrating your knowledge and you’re demonstrating that you did the research. And that’s why this is so cool when it seems like magic, right? When put to the test using that kind of skill. So, and it probably takes some practice,. I’m guessing. But you know, Doug, we’re out of time this time around, and I know we’re going to have you back for another call here to drill in to more about where we just ended, which is how do you get them to the next level? So if you don’t want your deals to end in no decision you’re not going to want to miss part two here. But Doug, thanks again for joining us. Thanks for having me. You bet. And remember to subscribe to this channel, like this video, hit the bell for notifications, so you don’t miss an episode. And we’ll see you next time.