Why does the sales industry have a negative reputation, and how did it get that way?
Sales as a profession has a terrible reputation because management cultures promote the wrong kinds of behaviors and sales procedures created in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s have not kept up with changes in the world of empowered and informed customers.
What is the fundamental concept behind streamlining the purchasing process?
Facilitating the buying process involves identifying a customer who is in need of a solution, is able and willing to purchase it, and then assisting them in doing so while also acting as a helpful, dependable service provider.
What motivates management to encourage undesirable inadvertent behavior?
Instead of prioritizing a knowledge of client wants and issues, management may encourage undesirable behavior by focusing on metrics like pipeline coverage and seeing sales as a numbers game.
How do we get our customers to draw toward us?
Reducing friction in the purchasing process will boost perceived value and pull with customers.
Marcus Cauchi: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome back once again to the Inquisitor Podcast with me, Marcus Cauchi. Today, I have Andy Mutton as my guest. Andy is a B2B seller with 30 years under his belt. We're gonna be exploring some of the gnarly questions that look at blind spots. We're gonna be looking at traditions that hold people back in management.
We're gonna be looking at the attachment that we have to things that we've learned maybe early on in our career and we haven't let go. We're not asking questions that deeply enough and challenging ourselves. Why is this opportunity placed where it is in the pipeline and how do we know that that's real?
What are the biggest gaps or risks to this opportunity? What did we learn from winning or losing it and how we managing and mitigating risks? How are we reversing risk for our buyers? So we're gonna be tackling stuff like this, forecast fiction, all the stuff of, you know, every day selling. Andy, welcome.
Andy Mutton: Hi, Marcus. Good to be here. And, uh, yeah. Nice to be [00:01:00] part of your podcast. Thank you.
Marcus Cauchi: It's my pleasure. Delighted to have you as a guest. So tell me, could you give us maybe 60 seconds on your history? Just a bit of background, so people know where you've come from.
Software engineer turned B2B seller
Andy Mutton: Yeah, absolutely. I actually started my career as a software engineer, having, having done a degree in communications engineering, which, um, may sound strange, cause not many software engineers become sellers, but actually is quite relevant to the some, some of the stuff I've done recently.
And I happily explain why later, but yeah, after several years of, um, not being particularly happy doing that, I, I moved accidentally as it happened. I moved into a sales role with a tech company. And never look back and, um, yeah, spent the, then the last 30, uh, years working for a variety of companies in sales roles, from startups through scale up and to behemoths such as IBM.
And, um, yeah, so worked in many different, uh, types of environment, but always B2B [00:02:00] solution selling.
Tell me about your best mistakes
Marcus Cauchi: Very interesting. Okay. So over those years you must have screwed up royally on many an occasion. Tell me about your best mistakes.
Andy Mutton: My best mistakes. I think, um, I certainly have, I, I think any seller who hasn't screwed up ever is probably lying to you.
I do try really hard to forget those, those cockups. And, and so sometimes it's a struggle to recall them, but yeah, I mean I've wasted company resources on deals that I thought were really super well qualified. And, and, you know, promised that we're gonna close and, and never stand a chance in hell of closing.
Um, when I was younger and I think not really understanding what qualification meant, really, what it really meant. You know, it's not just for questions. Do they have budget, uh, et cetera, need and timing and all of that on authority, there's a lot more to qualification that meets the eye. And I think it, it took me a few years to really understand what qualification meant.
So yeah, I've wasted company resources and, and forecast sizable [00:03:00] deals that never happened. And, uh, I'm sure we all have
Marcus Cauchi: That ghost of a Ferrari .
Andy Mutton: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. We can dream. We can dream.
Marcus Cauchi: We'll be millionaires by Christmas, Rodney. Okay. So tell me this then as you look at the sales profession and I use that term quite loosely.
As you look at our profession, where did we go wrong? Cause that, I mean, you and I are very certain age. I think I've probably gone a few years on you, but it just strikes me that we seem to have taken a desperately wrong turn somewhere with the way sales organizations, particularly in technology operate.
Andy Mutton: I agree, mostly, it varies, but I, I think in a lot of places, it is horrific. And I think it's really interesting that you started that question by describing what we do as a profession. Because I mean, I see it as a profession. I, I see myself as a sales professional, and many of my colleagues do, but [00:04:00] it's not really a profession in the sense that if you compare it with, you know, like if I was a doctor or a dentist or a lawyer, you know, it doesn't have the same professionalism surrounding it in terms of qualifications and letters after your name, but also the, the level of respect given to people in other professions. And, um, you know, I think that, you know, most people that do this for a living are serious about it. They want to do well. They want to do well for their, their people they work for. They wanna do well for their customers.
Poor perception about sales
Andy Mutton: But I think sales as a profession has got a bad reputation. I recall Dan Pink's book published a few years. Yeah. And, and, you know, in the opening pages, there's a word cloud based on a little bit of re research he did. And, and the word cloud is full of words like, you know, slimy, sleazy, untrustworthy, you know, so absolutely we, we took a wrong turning somewhere didn't we? And I think partly because I think in the early days maybe sales attracted those, [00:05:00] maybe the wrong sorts of people, but also management culture encouraged the wrong sorts of behaviors that, that attracted those sorts of people as well.
And so, yeah, we end, we end up with this very poor perception by arguably the general public of who we are and what we do, but. Yeah, something went wrong in the early. So I don't know, was it in the eighties? I, I, I think a lot of today's, um, sales practices that are still kind of adopted or, or practiced had root in the eighties in eighties business culture.
Certainly a lot of sales processes that are still adopted were sort of developed in seventies, eighties, nineties, et cetera. The world has changed, you know, and I do think the profession is moving and changing. Um, uh, sort of to be more in line with, let's say more empowered, more, more educated buyers is becoming.
I don't know, a bit more collaborative, um, if you like and a bit more customer centric, but I think there's a long way to go. But I think there really is. I think a [00:06:00] lot of companies still follow management practices that encourage appalling behaviors.
Marcus Cauchi: They do. But a again, my, my challenge to anyone listening is you have to keep looking upstream. And I talk about it a lot on the podcast because I, we operate in a world of wicked problems. They are complicated. They are interrelated, they're interdependent. And if you try and fix a four-dimensional problem with a one-dimensional solution, all you do is just nudge the symptom somewhere else, and you don't solve the problem.
And you, you, even, if you get a reprieve, you don't get a permanent fix.
Andy Mutton: Mm-hmm.
In the UK there are 2.4 million accidental managers with 16.8 million direct reports on average
Marcus Cauchi: And to my mind, the most pivotal part. Of your business is your management layer and they get 3% of the love. They literally get only 3% of the global's their training budget spent on them. There in the UK there are 2.4 million [00:07:00] accidental managers with 16.8 million direct reports on average.
Now that's half the UK workforce is reporting to people who got there by accident. And if only, I dunno what your experience was, they're going into management, but mine was, you are really good on the phone. Why don't you run a tele sales team and I look back and if any of you who are on my team originally were still out there.
I am so sorry. I had no right to be in management. And yeah, for the first two or three management jobs I had, I had no right to be there. Cause I had no idea what I was doing. But managers don't know what the hell they're doing and it's leadership and it's the
money behind them.
Andy Mutton: It's true. Um, uh, yeah, I was promoted to a manager, um, without any training or real experience or understanding of how to manage a team of people and you sort of, um, you have to learn quickly don't you. But I think everything you just said could equally be applied to sellers sales people as [00:08:00] well.
I think, I mean, I, I, I think I confess in my opening sentence that I was an accidentally, uh, found myself in a sales role. I, I didn't have a clue. You know what I was doing then when I started as a seller and equally, I didn't know much about managing when I became a manager, but you have to learn fast.
And, um, there wasn't a lot of help around in terms of there, well, it wasn't the company I worked for at the time. It wasn't a lot of money to spend on getting trained either. But, but I think that, I think that's still persists. If you look at what's happening, and again, I'm gonna speak to the sales profession rather than sort of management per se.
But if you look at where money is is spent on, on sales training, I mean, pretty much every company that I've, you know, apart from maybe the smaller startups, you know, you join a company and you join the sales team. And in your induction week, you get trained in the company's sales process, right? And, you know, you have a great couple of [00:09:00] days, maybe three, you do lots of role play and workshops, and you have some experience.
Sales trainer kind of explained to you the latest, uh, or whatever. And then you forget about it. I mean, there is no kind of enforcement of process that takes place. And I, and I say this pretty much, you know, whether it's a IBM or a scale up or a startup company, there there's very little enforcement of process and perhaps enforcement is the wrong word, but there's very little encouragement to-
Yeah yeah, reinforcement. Sorry. Yeah, that's a really good word. So there's very little reinforcement enforcement of the process it's largely forgotten about. And the only way that, that sales process persists in your life as a seller of that company is a, uh, you know, five to seven stages in a CRM system, right.
With no definition behind it, no understanding of what it means to be at that stage of the process or how you go from one to the other, very, very little. He's actually there and there's a lot more could [00:10:00] be done, you know, sales managers, rather than being number chasers and sort of pressurizes to get deals done.
There's a lot more that could be done for sales managers to actually be good coaches. And I think there's a massive, massive gap in the profession there that needs to be filled really. Um, and, and yeah.
Buyer Safety is central to everything that we do
Marcus Cauchi: My power mentor, Simon Bowen says that selling should be the most noble thing you do. And it absolutely should.
If you start with the premise that buyer safety is central to everything that we do, which means that we have to be rigorously authentic. We have to show up. And we have to deliver value. We have to be timely. We have to be relevant. Every touch. We're all about facilitating buying. We're not there to pitch a product. We're there to establish "Can we help? Are we the best people to help? If we are not, who can we bring in who can? Is our solution the best on its own, or can we enhance it by bringing other people in? Can we [00:11:00] be a talent pipeline or a source of innovation and ideas?"
Andy Mutton: Mm-hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: Most salespeople don't think like that because they're driven by transactional targets.
Correct? Yeah. And that kills the customer relationship. The price you pay over the lifetime is immense.
Help facilitate, don't be pushy
Andy Mutton: No, absolutely. Absolutely. Um, you know, facilitating the buying process words, I think you just used. And, uh, and I think mean a lot to me personally, I actually listened to one of your earlier podcasts, like with the, with somebody called Ben Hulme.
And I think his saying was. Why does sales have to be, why, why do people make it so complicated? I like that. And I agree with it. And you know, I, my, in my own kind of words, I say, well, I would describe what I do as finding somebody who needs your solution is able, ready, and willing to buy it and then help them do so.
I mean, yeah, there's devil in the detail for sure. But you know, it really is about, um, you know, and there's a lot in there [00:12:00] to do with qualifications as well, I think, but, but yeah, help facilitating, helping them buy from you. That's what people expect nowadays. They don't want people that are pushy and, you know, untrustworthy.
They want people that are just there to help.
Marcus Cauchi: You never wanted those people, no.
Andy Mutton: No. Uh, completely agree. Completely agree.
Marcus Cauchi: And we we've, we've forget forgotten that we are a service profession. There's no shame in serving others. It's not servitude. When I show up to sell to somebody, I see them as my equal.
They're no, no higher or lower than me. They have a problem. I'm potentially a source of a solution to fix it. That's all. Um, and you know, we can be grown up about it. It's not something that requires emotion. The problem that I see is that so many people are under the pressure. You know, you, you talked about the challenges with pipeline, and I think, you know, one of your frequently unasked questions is, you know, why are the three to five X coverage?
What is it that drives management to drive unwanted unintentional behavior?
Marcus Cauchi: What is it that drives management [00:13:00] to drive unwanted unintentional behavior?
Andy Mutton: Three to five times pipeline coverage, I guess it's a comfort blanket, isn't it? Some companies actually, uh, you know, measure and, and, and reward, uh, based on that metric as well. And I think it's, it's really not a very good place to be.
And it goes back to this kind of old fashioned mentality that sales is a numbers game. If we make a hundred calls a day, we'll have 10 conversations and we'll have three new opportunities in our pipeline. And if we keep doing that, eventually enough of them will close. And it's, it's, it's really not putting an understanding of your customer, their needs, their challenges, and to be of service to them.
It's not putting that front and center of what you, what you're all about. Right? It's crunching numbers is not serving customer.
People resist investing in technologies that help prospect
Marcus Cauchi: The question going through my mind at this point is that there's technology out there. I, I have friends and partners that I work with at the moment who are literally having six to 20 conversations with live [00:14:00] prospects in their ideal customer profile every hour.
That they're on the phone because they're using technology intelligently. They're using marketing intelligently and they're outsourcing and arbitraging the dead activity to specialists who got the ability to, at that level. And yet people resist investing in that kind of technology because they still have this view that somehow the suffering is good for the soul.
It baffles me in this day and age, you you've got technologies that can actually help you to pinpoint the exact individuals within a prospect organization who are most likely to respond positively to a sales call today.
Andy Mutton: It's also about, you know, moving from sort of targeting and we, we use a lot of kind of warlike language in sales don't we, but, um, which I don't particularly like, but we, we, we moving from sort of targeting to, there is a sense that, you know, more and more sales organization or marketing organization, the sort of [00:15:00] switching more to, I don't know, an inbound strategy where people are opting into your buying cycle rather than being chased into it.
Difference between push and pull
Andy Mutton: And I I've, um, spent many years working with, um, lean and agile companies and, and lean and agile practices, which I really enjoy. One of the things in lean is, is all about pull and rather than push. And that's interesting. So, you know, you, you, by the difference between push and pull hope, hopefully it's quite obvious, but going back to that, Dan pink word cloud, one of the words I think was pushing sales.
People are seen as pushing, you know, we're always pushing to try and get people to talk to us, cuz that's what we are incentivized to do supposedly. But what if you could switch that around and create, pull. Right? And so such that you are, you're no longer seen as somebody pushy, but somebody who's creating pull because customers actually wanna talk to you.
And I guess, I guess that's what a lot of inbound marketing is all about. Right? It's it's, it's about generating pull, but you can also [00:16:00] think of, think of creating pull throughout your sales cycle as well. Once you've got an engagement. Yeah. How do you, uh, it's just a switch of mindset. How do you create pull?
How do you behave in such a way that your customer, um, and I used the word customer, not prospect. We're still serving them, even though they haven't signed a contract yet. Right. So it's always a customer. So how does your customer. How does your customer, how do you create a situation where your customers coming back to you?
Because they want to, because you're adding value, you're seen as a valuable person resource, somebody they, they want to spend time with. So I dunno, it went off on a tangent there, Marcus, but you know, for me, that's just an interesting kind of concept, switch it from being pushy or pushing stuff out there to how do we create, how do we create pull.
Marcus Cauchi: That's actually a really interesting discussion. So let's dig into that. You you've opened the can of worms. So yeah.
Andy Mutton: Now I'll stop before-
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. You should be punished for your good intentions.
How do we create pull with our customers?
Marcus Cauchi: Tell me this. How do we create [00:17:00] pull with our customers? What, what do we need to do, uh, in order to make ourselves timely, relevant, and valuable and, uh, attractive in such a way that we stand apart from all the noise? You know, there's 4.8 quadrillion adverts being served up every year that get zero or one click. I'd dread to think how many trillions of emails, um, are being pumped out.
Andy Mutton: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, great question. So my punishment is, is, is happening in real time. So maybe what I'd like to do is.
The simple answer to the, I think the simple answer to the question is like remove friction, the buying the whole right. We call it a sales process or or buying process that customers going through buying cycle, let's just remove friction from that. Because friction, if you take away the friction that will help to increase the value that you're adding and the perception of bit value being added, uh, and will increase, pull.
So the question then becomes how do we remove friction from [00:18:00] that? And I wanna talk more about the buying cycle. Maybe, you know, there, there is a lot of help and guidance, um, out there in the, you know, the, the, the on LinkedIn and in the ether, etcetera about the front end of the sales cycle about how to get meetings, how to engage, there's enormous amount of sort of sales, coaching, and sales, training, and guidance that's focused on that sort of the sharp end, the front end of how do you get started. There's a fair bit about how to, how to conclude and close deals as well.
Marcus Cauchi: Nothing on the middle.
Andy Mutton: There's very little in the middle. Exactly. That's the way I see it. There's very little in the middle and I actually think that's where deals are one lost, you know, it's in that middle, that's where they tend to get problematic.
They get combat and they, they go south cause things are happening or not happening in the middle.
How do you remove friction in the buying cycle?
Andy Mutton: So, so I'm thinking about, well, how do we thinking of the, of the, sort of the life cycle of the, of the sales process or a buying cycle? How do you remove friction? Ideally, what we do is we [00:19:00] match our sales cycle.
If you like to the buying cycle, the way to remove friction is to, is to match the two together. So. If I'm trying to follow a rigid process and at various points in that customer's journey with me, they are gonna feel friction. They're gonna feel tension because I'm trying to get them to do something that is not necessarily part of their way that they're chosen way of progressing or the way, you know, their buying cycle that they need to follow.
Marcus Cauchi: Just to intervene briefly there. At, at a physiological and psychological level, what you have to remember is the moment you create friction, you risk triggering the amygdala and that triggers freeze, flight or fight in the prospect. The moment that happens, you may as well kiss your commission check goodbye. That, stop doing it, that, that, and it's driven by your drive to want commission and to be successful and to get to the top of the leaderboard.
You need to have low self orientation to be successful in sales.
Andy Mutton: Yeah. [00:20:00]
Marcus Cauchi: Sorry.
Andy Mutton: Yeah. Yeah. I'm sorry. No, ab absolutely right. And that raises another question. Like, you know, should we be paid commissions? I mean, there's a whole other topic of discussion there.
Marcus Cauchi: I'd love about conversation with you too. That's another podcast you're booked.
Andy Mutton: Alright, I'll park it for now. But you know, in and of itself, it's a very contentious thing. We are no longer the brush salesman. Who's traveling on his own with a suitcase full of samples around the country, um, where, you know, it, it's not just about me. I I'm part of a team. Why do I get the commission and the rest of the team don't, for example, that it kind of doesn't make sense, but I have worked in some situations where commission was team based.
And I think actually that's a really, and when I say team I don't me and all other sales guys, I mean, me and me and roles who are serving that customer. So, you know, my junior account exec was the SDR, the customer success person, the technical guide.
Marcus Cauchi: Marketing.
Andy Mutton: All getting, we're off on a tangent, but-
Compensation drives the wrong behavior
Marcus Cauchi: It's really important cuz I agree with you wholeheartedly. I I think unless we address that, cuz that's part of the wicked problem compensation drives the wrong behavior. And it drives selfish behavior, which is self orientated, as opposed to serving the customer's interest. And it doesn't drive discretionary effort from the rest of the team cuz they think, well, why the hell should I?
Then it works against the interest of the customer against the interest of the shareholder then against the interest of the customer and the individual in the individual.
Andy Mutton: Exactly. The caveat I would add is that most of the people in that team certainly where I'm currently work at the moment, they, they they're very much professionals.
Right. And again, it's that word professional. And I think the caveat is that professionalism hopefully will prevail, but that is a source of tension. Yeah. Where you are incentivizing wrong behaviors and incentivizing the, the, the sales and the seller to, to act in his own individual interest. It's not good for team behavior as a whole.
And in my [00:22:00] opinion, team behavior as a whole is what is driving success for the, for the business and for the customer. So I think it's really, really important that we fix compensation. The other obvious one is, is being driven to, you know, quarterly numbers, sales management might demand that a customer signs a deal by, you know, by the end of quarter or the end of month or the end of year or whatever. But what does that really? Where, where is the customer? Where's the customer centricity in that? Why should we expect a customer to, to, to work to our timeline? Yes. I know we have targets. The business has targets.
The business wants to measure its performance because it matters to shareholders etcetera. But really what's that got to do with customer centricity? If we really want to be customer centric, we need to kind of break down. And, and again, that those are all things that are creating tension and friction and frustration in allowing us to match to the customers buying cycle.
How can I match my seller selling process to customer buying cycle?
Andy Mutton: So strip all that stuff away. And just think [00:23:00] about customer buying cycle. How can I match my seller selling process to that then you, you're kind of starting to think about things in a, in a, in a different way.
Marcus Cauchi: And one, one tip I would give people is look for the moments in the buyers' buying cycle, where they have moments of parents, where there are those moments where they need a guide, because those are the moments we should show up.
How sales people in conjunction with marketing can create a conversation with their target audience?
Marcus Cauchi: And we need to understand what the choreography of that looks like. And also what the clues are, the symptoms are that tell us that's coming so that we can feed, you know, we were talking about inbound earlier, so we can feed them the right type of content so that when they hit that moment, We're the most obvious point of contact cuz this, I think, uh, you know, one, one things I'm really excited about and I'm trying to understand better is how sales people in conjunction with marketing can create a conversation with their target audience.
Andy Mutton: Mm-hmm.
Marcus Cauchi: And to build that conversation, you know, Tesla's dominance in the [00:24:00] luxury car market in the space of one year they took, they went from nowhere to outselling Mercedes. And they started a conversation about the internal combustion engine in the environment, and they pre-sold 146,000 units at $6 of cost of customer acquisition.
And they pre-sold meanwhile, Mercedes 86,000 units with $875 or $975 a customer, uh, cost of acquisition. So I think we need to get much, much clever as sales people about how we engage with our customers and even how we find them and attract them.
Andy Mutton: Exactly. You get, you get those moments, right. Then, you know, that's where the, the, the, the added value and the perception of value that you're bringing is gonna then, you know, be magnified.
That's gonna create trust. And if you, if, if you get all of those moments right, it, it it's gonna create pull. Things seem to be adding value, real value and, and doing that consistently [00:25:00] creates trust and creates pull. And if you, if you're creating pull, you don't need to pushy, right?
Reliability plus credibility plus intimacy over self orientation equals trust
Marcus Cauchi: Reliability operator in the trust equation. So reliability plus credibility plus intimacy over self orientation equals trust. And the reliability piece is you show up and you do what you said you were going to do, which means no bullshit in the sales process, no blue sky and no selling and vapor away.
How can I be following my sales process at the same time matching to my customer's buying cycle?
Andy Mutton: Correct. Correct. And, and so, you know, you, you let's talk about sales process a little bit as well. So if we are seeking to minimize friction by kind of matching to the customer's buying cycle, where does that leave our so-called sales process that we, that was, that has been defined and we've all been trained in and, and is baked into our CRM system? Where does that leave that? Right? Because the chances are, that sales process is not gonna be a natural fit or, or unable to kind of mold to the [00:26:00] customer's buying cycle. So there you've got a problem. So the question is, how do we, how do we address that? How can I be following my sales process at the same time matching to my customer's buying cycle? That in itself is a, is a, is a challenge, right?
Marcus Cauchi: There's a really good indicator that you're falling into this particular trap that Andy's talking about, which is that you're on your fifth sales methodology in six years. It's not the methodology.
None of these methodologies are really fit for purpose
Andy Mutton: Yeah, exactly. So, um, so sales methodologies come and go, right? The latest book, the latest hype. If we go back to the, uh, sales is really simple. Find somebody who needs your solution and, and help them buy it. Why, why do we need all this methodology? My personal feeling is that, you know, and I, I, in, in the, in the decades I've been doing this market. I've, I've pretty much been trained, not in all of them, but in, in many of them since whenever, um, you know, whether it was solution selling or value based selling or customer-centric selling whatever the latest flavor is and, and, [00:27:00] and things in between, you know, by big companies and by specialized training agency. etcetera. My issue with all of them is that none of them are really fit for purpose. They all are broken to a greater and less extent because they don't give you that ability to match.
They are predicated in an era, uh, predicated on or predicated in an I'm not sure if my English is correct here, but they are predicated in an era where the seller was in control. This idea of the seller being in control of the opportunity, of the sale, of the customer was pretty pervasive, right? And it was almost a, you know, a goal during the sales cycle that you had to be in control.
I, I personally, I think it's complete bullshit.
Really simple rule, do the opposite of everything that you're doing at the moment, and probably life will improve
Marcus Cauchi: Well, I, I remember growing up when my early days in recruitment, we, we used to talk about client control, candidate control. The problem is that as I've grown older and wiser, but I've realized is to have control, we have to give control up. To get trust you have to give trust. In order to have other people be vulnerable [00:28:00] and open up, you have to be vulnerable first. There's a really simple rule, do the opposite of everything that you're doing at the moment. And probably life will improve. The, the idea, I mean, Andy's point that this was an era when buyers didn't have the internet, they didn't have access to all the competitive information.
Your sales methodology has to change every 10 years to keep up with customer evolution
Marcus Cauchi: They didn't have access to all the research from, uh, Forester, from Gartner, from ICP. They didn't have all the competitors information in price. Now they do. And you have to adapt. The reality is, I mean, I remember, um, uh, David Simon, the 1970s said that your sales methodology has to change every 10 years to keep up with the, how your customers have evolved.
Now, the reality is that just doesn't happen because you revert back to what you learned first. And sales people, I think, one of my big gripes with sales is I, I think there's a problem here because we talk about training sales people. Whereas actually sales people should be responsible for their [00:29:00] own learning and managers should be enabling sales people.
Should they, they should be equipping them by coaching what they see every day. Instead of faffing about, worrying about yet another pointless report that is designed for audit purposes, not to help the salesperson sell more, more often to more people for more money. And that's, that has to be the, the purpose of a CRM, but it's never, I've never seen it implemented that way.
Andy Mutton: That's right. I mean, lot there to unpack Marcus, but, um, but yeah, I mean enough of the Jedi mind tricks right? In, in town, we, we, we, we no longer want to be controlling our, our, our customers, uh, in that way. Let me try and justify one of the assertions I made a few minutes ago, which is that none of no, no sales processes are fit for purpose.
Most sales processes are poorly conceived, defined and deployed
Andy Mutton: I actually do believe that to greater and lesser extent. Right? But, um, and I think the reason, the reasons are that I think most sales processes [00:30:00] that are, you know, whatever published, trained in baked into CRM systems, most of them are poorly conceived. They're poorly defined. And I think they're probably deployed.
And what do I mean by that? I think poorly conceive. If you look at pretty much any sales process, if you do Google sales process, right? You'll see images, the string of boxes, right? It's linear and the assumption there is, it is all very, very predictable, right? You start from one end and you work your way through, uh, and youll get to the end with a, with a, with a new customer and a, a deal in the bag.
It's a linear, predictable process and sales isn't like that. Sales is just nothing, nothing like that.
It's like having scripts, the customer doesn't have the script, so they don't want to say next. Yeah.
It's, it's it's the real world of sales is, is complex and it does get complex and it's messy, right?
Things don't happen in that way. Things [00:31:00] don't happen in a very predictable sequence, you know, when, when, when you engage with a. Um, a potential customer at the beginning of their buying cycle, you really know what's exactly what's gonna happen over the next six months. And no, you don't. This is not, this is not like process.
We gotta think, think about the word process. It's not like the process that you see in a factory or in a chemical plant or in a, some kind of manufacturing facility where every single step, right, is absolutely understood and defined. And when something goes in at the front, you know exactly what's gonna happen to it.
And, and what's gonna come out at the other end, right? Sales is not like that. And all of the processes that are trained and defined and used kind of assume that ,right? So, so the cons, the conception of sales processes is wrong. Right? So that's my, that's my first point. Sorry?
Division of labor turned sales and marketing into a pin factory
Andy Mutton: You ever read "Wealth of Nations"?
I haven't, no.
Marcus Cauchi: I've scanned, skimmed through it years ago. Uh, but [00:32:00] Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith says that the idea of division of labor is actually a bad thing. He explains it. And it was the, you know, the, the seed of the industrial revolution, but he says it dehumanizes. Now the problem is all the outfits, uh, who read it or didn't read it.
And they just heard about the whole idea of division of labor turned sales and marketing into a pin factory. And that creates friction at every single point for the customer.
Andy Mutton: Correct. Correct.
Marcus Cauchi: It could. And so your salespeople are constantly under pressure and they burn out and they leave.
Why sales processes are not fit for purpose?
Andy Mutton: Yeah. Yeah, no, you're abs you're absolutely right. That's exactly what's crazy friction. But the, the, my, my next point about why sales processes are not fit for purpose is that most, mostly they're very poorly defined. So if you're lucky, each of those boxes, right in that little predictive sequence will have a name. And there's a reason they have a name is because it needs one in your, in your CRM system, right. Or your, or if you're lucky, your KanBan board, which is up on a wall somewhere, right? The [00:33:00] column, the column header needs a name.
Back to one of those questions that we talked about earlier, what does it mean to be here? So my opportunity is here in the process, Mr. Sales manager, what does it really mean to be there? And how do you know? Uh, and very often there is no definition. There is no description. There's certainly no usable guidance. Sometimes there is very, usually actually there is very, very poor guidance. I looked at one recently actually, uh, was reviewing a process. And, um, the, the, the closing, you know, most sales processes towards the end will have a stage pulled something like closing, right?
Marcus Cauchi: Yeah.
Andy Mutton: And this was defined with two bullet points and it said, sign contract, negotiate discounts. Now I was, you know, I was pretty godsmacked that that, I mean, arguably it's no guidance at all. Best case it's no guidance at all. Worst case it's giving really bad guidance, right? [00:34:00] Encouraging your sales people to, to, to, to automatically discount.
So, so it's yeah, it's, it's, it's really, really bad and this is not uncommon, right? This is not uncommon to have very, very poorly defined. Sales process stages, no use whatsoever or at worst bad, you know, giving bad guidance to, to, to sellers. So, you know, it's, it's okay for somebody like you or I to kind of see through that.
And yeah, I know, I know what needs to be done here, but if I put myself back to that, you know, 30 year old, he was just starting out. He knew nothing. If I was given that, what am I gonna do? Yeah, I'm gonna it's it's it's crazy. So how, you know, how could we improve upon that? And, and then there are some processes which I've seen, which are better, they're much better defined, right?
They'll have a clearer set of bullet points, which, which, you know, more comprehensive set of bullets for, for each of the stages and they'll jump into it. And you know, when you look at the [00:35:00] detail, Those bullet points are being very specific about activities and tasks that should be done at this stage, right?
Again, what that's doing. It's, it's, it's basically saying as a seller, you need to do this at this point in time. Now that's not really, if your, if your sellers are professional, you know, do they really need to be told what to do all the time? And. You know, question,
Marcus Cauchi: Learn their craft though, Andy, I mean, you know, giving them some slack on this, but I think that's down to having managers being present on sales calls, doing ride-alongs and windscreen training and coaching what they see. And then providing the tools and the, you know, the practice scenarios so that the salespeople can take those moments and practice them and instill them and appropriate them as, uh, uh, you know, basic behavior. But none of that happens, you know, we learn from the research, the Gartner has done that one hour of reinforcement training [00:36:00] per month, following training.
Delivers a 36 X higher return on investment than if you just train them from fire hose and leave them to their own devices.
Andy Mutton: Absolutely. And, and this comes back to the question about, you know, from earlier, um, or the point earlier about, about coaching right there. There's, there's no coaching, the coaching doesn't happen in most organizations like that.
My point about tasks and activities though is, if we are defining processes in terms of things that have to be done at this particular stage or time or whatever, we're kind of potentially constraining what happens when. And again, that is not gonna help match your process to buying customers buying cycle, and it's gonna generate friction.
And this happens. So what, what happens in reality though, is that in the vast majority of my experience, sellers don't follow the process because what they will naturally do is what they believe is the most valuable thing to do at that point in time for their customer and to help progress [00:37:00] the, the deal forwards. Right? So what happens is they don't follow process because processes are defined in such a restrictive way. So that creates a couple of problems, right? So if they're not following process or they're effectively abandoning process after they've been trained in it, and they're kind of reverting to, to tie, what that means is, sales process has two purposes. One is to provide guidance to sellers. The other one is to provide governance to the organization, right? In terms of what's what's happening and what, what the future forecast looks like. If they're not following, the guidance, isn't good, and they're not following you, then there is no governance.
Marcus Cauchi: Right.
Andy Mutton: So it, it fails on both points. So a much better approach is to kind of define your process in, in terms of outcomes, in terms of things that have been achieved, ideally by the customer. Things the customer has done, which help them move forward in their buying cycle. And the corollary of that is it's helping you understand that [00:38:00] where you are in your sales process as well.
"It creates rigor without rigidity"
Andy Mutton: So, so this is not rocket science, right? It's just, it's just a way of defining things, clearly, unambiguously and to quote my, my, my friend, Ian Mahog is it, "It creates rigor without rigidity." Right? You need rigor in order to get good governance, but you also need the lack of rigidity in order to be able to kind of mold your, your seller behavior and your selling process to the customer's buying cycle.
And if, if you can achieve that, you're gonna get the, the, the reduction in friction that, that, that we talked about earlier, that's gonna create pull, which means that you're gonna move forward in a more confident way.
Low conversion rate of first to second meeting
Marcus Cauchi: Very interesting. Well, one, one of the other things, and so I want to cycle back to something that you said, uh, earlier around the middle of the funnel.
One of the metrics that really, really concerns me is the low conversion rate of first to second meeting. Um, because of the [00:39:00] tariff that, that creates in terms of top of the funnel prospecting requirement. Something like three and a half to six and a half thousand dials required to get one second meeting.
What flabbergasts me is the lack of emphasis on working out. Well, what do we need to do when we show up in order to ensure that by the end, they want to invite us back? And to my mind where there is no rigor is in planning, research, rehearsal, debriefing, lesson capture, and the application of this lessons. And that cycle needs to be built in any good sales organization, but it's almost never implemented.
Preparation and follow-up is everything
Andy Mutton: Absolutely. Absolutely. I, I, I couldn't agree with you more on that. And. I sometimes see, um, you know, sellers kind of packing their calendars with, you know, meetings with maybe short breaks between them. My kind of personal practice is that if I've got a one hour meeting or a 45, whatever, I'll probably have at least that amount of time in prep and at least that [00:40:00] amount of time in follow up as well.
And I think, yeah, preparation and follow up is everything because that time that you have is so precious and so valuable to them, um, as much as to you, you've gotta kind of hit the, hit it on the head, haven't you, you've gotta deliver value in that time, such that they, uh, you know, creating that pool such that they want, they want you back again.
But what does preparation mean?
Andy Mutton: So I think preparation follow up is absolutely key. But then the question becomes, well, what does preparation mean? You know, am I just jumping on LinkedIn and doing a bit of research on this individual? Am I, am I googling the company and, and checking them out on, on and finding out all about the company and what they do and maybe.
Marcus Cauchi: Yes. Yes, sir. That's not with pre-call plan. You know why you're there? Theknow why you're there. You know, the outcome that you're trying to accomplish by the end. You've prepared your questions, so when you show up, you differentiate by the questions that you ask, not the tedious features and functionality that you're gonna spew out.
And [00:41:00] certainly no talking about your, uh, headquarters or who your investors are, cuz no one cares and identifying the likely objections, the competitive landscape, the trends that are going on that they're probably tapping into. Identifying their competitive landscape and who their customers are, what their strategy is.
Listen to their analyst calls, read their annual report and turn up prepared. So that in the first two minutes, they're not thinking how can I get this idiot out of here.
Andy Mutton: Exactly. And, and how do you, you know, so, you know, given that you're gonna do that, you know, extensive and very thorough preparation, I think it's also important to know you may have your own personal kind of checklist for doing that, but I think it's also important to know, you know, in terms of setting objectives for, you know, your personal goal for the meeting and you know, what sort of things do you need to, what questions do you need to ask?
You need to know where are you at with this particular deal, this opportunity, with this potential [00:42:00] customer. And, um, again, this is, this is problematic. The sales process as defined is, is meant to kind of tell you that. But usually in the vast majority of cases, it doesn't, you know. What you really need is a kind of a sat nav, right?
You need, you need a GPS system for your sales opportunity. That will basically say with some precision. This is exactly where I am. And then to understand where it is you need to get to, and then you can start to understand, well, you know, what are the gaps? What are the things, what are the outcomes? What are the things I need to achieve in order to get me towards the next destination?
If you like. I think that's really important to, so not just kind of going into that preparation blind, but having some kind of, uh, way of understanding where you are and where you're trying to get to, and that will then guide you to ask the right questions that will help you achieve that objective.
Marcus Cauchi: Absolutely Andy, I would love to have, uh, a deeper [00:43:00] conversation with you about much of this stuff, particularly the compensation, but we've come to the top of the hour.
If you had a golden ticket and you can whisper in the ear of the idiot Andy age 23, what one advice would you have passed?
Marcus Cauchi: Tell me something, as you look back over your career, if you were, if you had a golden ticket and you can whisper in the ear of the idiot Andy age 23, what one choice, bit of advice would you have, uh, passed.
Andy Mutton: The, the advice I would've given to myself as a 23 year old, right? Um, I mean, I told you earlier, I started my career as, as a software engineer and I was actually deeply unhappy doing that as I go. And the advice I would've given myself at that age quite simply would be get a job in sales. Because, I really didn't know where I could move on from.
And I think, you know, in hindsight it's been 13 incredible years. I've in, I, I immensely enjoy working with customers, helping, understanding their business challenges, helping them solve their business challenges. And it's taking me, it's taken me, you [00:44:00] know, into many hundreds of businesses all over the world and it has been an immensely enjoyable career.
And so my advice to my 23 year old self would be. You know, why don't you get a job in sales? Cause you're really gonna love it. I, I, I wanna kind, um, put a second part of answer to that question, which is what would I've if was 30 when I finally got into sales, what would I've, what would I've said to myself as a 30-year old and knew nothing about sales. I would said, "There's this thing out there called the central sales process, go and buy it because all of the stuff that you learn over the, over the, over the next 30 years is, is codified in there. And you can put it in your pocket and take it with you wherever you go. And it'll be immense help."
So that's what I would've said is "Get a job in sales and buy a pack of these called essential sales process." So that was unashamed plug there, wasn't it?
Marcus Cauchi: Andy Mutton, thank you.
Andy Mutton: It's been a pleasure, Marcus. Really enjoyed chatting with you and yeah.
Happy to do, [00:45:00] uh, happy to dive into some of those other topics. If you ever wish to.
How can people get hold of you?
Marcus Cauchi: Likewise, how can people get hold of you?
Andy Mutton: Look me up on LinkedIn, I'm I'm on LinkedIn. So you can get me at andy. mutton, M U T T O N, @essentialsalesprocess.com.
Marcus Cauchi: Excellent. And you guys had just released these cards, just one quick plug on that then.
Andy Mutton: Yeah. As I, as I hinted that earlier, so a few years ago, myself and, and some old colleagues kind of, we were frustrated with the, um, the state of sales process generally. Uh, we just, as I said, didn't think any of it was ever fit for purpose. And I've spent, um, a number of years working in what I call the lean and agile space, looking at sort of different ways of working, you know, team working, visualizing, uh, work on boards, et cetera.
And so loads of great ideas and, or, well, can we, can we just come up with a different way of defining sales process that actually, you know, matches the real world and kind of helps [00:46:00] solve this problem of being able to provide good guidance to sellers, good governance for organizations and helping to be able to match the way that we work to the buying customers buying cycle.
That was the intention. It was kind of a mad idea. And, and, and we did that and it, it really is the sort of codification of sort of stuff we've learned over the years. But yeah, it's a, it's a, it's a, a flexible sales process. It's one that provides rigor, but without the, the rigidicy and hopefully will, will make you a better seller.
Marcus Cauchi: Wonderful. Andy Mutton. Thank you.
Andy Mutton: Take care, Marcus. Thank you, byebye.
Marcus Cauchi: Hey, this is Marcus Cauchi signing off once again from The Inquisitor Podcast. If you found this useful and insightful, then please tag somebody who you think would benefit from it. Maybe your manager who knows, and if you wanna get in touch with me, email@example.com.
If you think it'd be a good guest as well, or you know, someone who would be, or you want me to interview someone, just drop me an email. In the meantime, stay safe and happy selling. [00:47:00] Bye bye.