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Feb 18 21

Dear Outlook And Gmail Developers……

by David Brock

Dear Outlook, Gmail, and developers of all email systems. I have a feature request.

Actually, it’s a feature removal request. I think it will improve the productivity of all email users, and how they value your tools.

Please remove the “Reply All,” feature. I’m just about to join a meeting of more than 300 people. But many of them have have lost the meeting link. Rather than addressing their requests to the meeting organizer, they are using “Reply All…..” My inbox has exploded with requests.

This is perhaps the most egregious example I’ve encountered. But I experience this everyday with smaller groups. 90% of the “Reply All’s,” I receive are meaningless to me. Often, they are simply single word responses, inflicted on the group: “Great, Fantastic, Terrible, See you then, Agreed,……..” Or worse, they simply have a few emoji’s

All of these acknowledgements are relatively meaningless. Just some individual’s, well intended acknowledgement. But they are inflicted on everyone on the distribution list.

What if we forced users to be more thoughtful about their use of email? What if rather than making it easy for them to flood the world with “Reply All,” they had to think, “Who really needs to see this response?”

So, it would be really helpful to me, and possibly millions of other users, if you eliminated Reply All. It would make my Inbox much more manageable and me more productive.

Feb 17 21

Are You Confident Enough In Your Value Not To Discount?

by David Brock

Discounting has reached Pandemic levels. It used to be something we used as a last resort, and only under extreme duress. Today, responding to a prospecting call earns a discount. Proposals come with a price and then either an automatically applied discount, or hints at a discount. Something like, “Buy by the end of the month and I can discount 15%!”

Forget the adverse revenue impact. Discounting is a demonstration in our own lack of confidence in the value we create with our solutions!

Stated differently, it’s like shouting to our customers, “We don’t believe in our solutions strongly enough to defend the value they offer!”

If we don’t believe in the value of our solutions, if we are unable to communicate and defend that value, then why should our customers believe that we create the value we claim?

How can we even utter the words, “Value Proposition,” when we have preceded those words, “I’m sure we can work something out in the pricing…… (wink, wink)….”

It brings up key questions within our own organizations:

  • Do our solutions create real value for our customers?
  • Do we understand that value….and believe it?
  • Do we know how to communicate that value in terms relevant to the customer?
  • Can we defend that value compared to competition, compared to other alternatives, compared to Doing Nothing!?
  • Do we really deliver on the value we claim?

The price we charge has little to do with the value we should be creating. In most cases, this cost is the smallest part of the reasons customers should be buying. But too often, that’s what sales focuses on. And in our presentation of the price, it’s always accompanied by the “wink, wink, ……maybe we can do something for you….”

If we want to build customer confidence in our solution, how do we do that when we are not confident enough to defend full price?

For sales people, look at the average discount rate for all your sales for the past year. Look at the percent of opportunities, won or lost, that you discounted. Ask yourself why you need to do this, what you need to change about how you engage the customer? Ask yourself about your own confidence in what you sell?

For leaders, look at the same issues across your organization. Try to understand why you aren’t able to sell the majority of time at your full price. Consider what the lack of confidence your sales people have in selling at full price means not only to your revenue/margins, but what it means in terms of your ability to win through creating superior value.

Leaders, ask yourself, “Do we have a confidence problem? Is it a selling problem? Or do we have a pricing problem?”

If we want to build customer confidence, if we want to create differentiated value with our customers; we have to be confident and proud enough with what we sell to defend full price!

Feb 17 21

The Power Of Role Plays

by David Brock

You are probably shocked. “Dave doesn’t write about this stuff, he usually writes about much bigger issues, WTF is happening to him?”

Actually, conducting role plays has been a powerful tool that we use both in our consulting, training, and coaching. I don’t think we use them enough.

There are a lot of tools that offer alternatives to role plays. We can record calls, they will be analyzed, and provide coaching to the individual, “You asked 6 questions, you should have asked 4, you didn’t swear enough….” (Yes, know my cynicism about some of the advice given by the conversational intelligence tools.) Others provide role play scenarios and score the handling based on preset criteria.

And sometimes, even managers look at these things and provide some coaching.

Maybe I’m too old school, but give me the good old fashioned 3-5 minute role play. Today, we can easily conduct them in Zoom, and if we want we can record them.

Before I dive in further, I have to acknowledge something–I think a lot of people feel the same way. I hate hate hate doing role plays. Not because of the time it takes. But I get embarrassed. I don’t want to look inept or bad to the person I’m doing the role play with. It’s seems so much easier to just make the calls on the customer.

That’s all pure ego. In spite of how much I hate looking stupid to whoever’s doing the role play with me, I know they will help me be better. I know the work enables me to improve–so I don’t make mistakes (or at least fewer) with my customers. After all, it’s better to look stupid with our own team mates than with our customers.

So we have to get over our ego’s and just do it!

So what am I talking about, and why am I talking about something as mundane about role plays.

Too often when we coach our people, we put a “safe distance” between what we are coaching our people on and the actual execution of those things. It’s easy to talk about what we should do, but sometimes making the right words come out of our mouths is a very different matter. And it’s the latter that counts.

Often, I ask my teammates to do a role play with me. I know what I want to do, I know how to do it, but I want to make sure the words I intend to deliver are actually the words that come out of our mouths.

It’s good to reflect on the wisdom of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth…”

Another power of role plays is they enable us to experiment, to try something new. We often need to change how we engage our customers. We need to experiment with new approaches. We need to develop our confidence in how we are communicating to our customers. Role plays provide that “safe” environment to experiment and try things new.

Role plays provide a powerful learning tool, not only for us, but for our peers. I like getting a group together and practicing on the same scenario. We get a chance to see different approaches, we get the collective knowledge of our peers in critiquing and helping each other improve. We get to learn together.

Role plays don’t take a huge amount of time. Often, when I’m coaching someone and we are discussing a situation, I suggest a quick role play on that situation. It may only take a few minutes, then a few minutes to debrief. It doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare, we don’t need any special tools or systems. It’s just a conversation between two people and learning from each other.

A final argument. Look at any professional sport, look at every musician or performer, look at the keynote speakers at your SKO. Practice, rehearsal, role plays are all critical to maximizing their performance when it really counts.

This is such a powerful tool, but I see it reserved for sales training sessions and never used outside those sessions. Why wouldn’t we take more advantage of something that can have such a profound impact on our performance.

As much as I hate doing role plays, it is the key thing that makes me better in front of customers. Wouldn’t sacrifice that time for anything.

Feb 15 21

“One Size Fits All…..”

by David Brock

Each of our customers’ strategies, goals, priorities, culture, and values are different. The specific challenges and problems they face are different. That’s at an enterprise level.

Then when we look within those organizations, the goals, priorities, challenges, problems of each individual differ.

Yet we inflict the same standard “stuff” on all of them. We treat each as though they are identical–same strategies, goals, priorities, culture, values, problems, challenges.

We take them through the same standard “handling” as we engage them and move them through our selling process (forget they have their own buying processes and they struggle with it.).

We use the same email campaigns, “Dear occupant or current resident,” they each say the same thing. Our SDRs take them through the standard scripts, making sure they only ask 4 questions and swear (that’s what conversational intelligence data indicates). Our goal is less to learn, but rather schedule the next meeting.

We have the follow on meeting. We take them through the same stuff, then start pitching our products. We move them to the same standard demo. Then we move them to the next step in our process, always with the suggestion, “If you order by the end of the month, I might be able to do something on the price…..”

Each customer is moved along a sales assembly line that is designed to maximize our efficiency—not the customer experience.

Then we wonder. Why do customers not respond to our outreach? Why do they seem to seek other channels of information? Why does research show that customers don’t like their buying experiences?

Yet we keep going, we know that if we aren’t hitting our numbers, we just do more of the same thing–at higher volumes, velocity, intensity. We never pause to consider:

What if we change how we engage our customers? What if we tried something new? Would we have a better impact?

But that’s not the only problem.

As managers, we treat our people as replaceable cogs. Our coaching, if we coach, is driven by the numbers. “You didn’t hit your dials…… You didn’t hit your meeting goals…..You are behind on your quota….”

We focus on the numbers and not the underlying things that drive performance. We treat every individual the same, not taking the time to connect with them as individuals, other than social chit-chat, “How did you like Tom Brady doing it again last week…..?”

If one size DOES fit all, then we don’t need sales people. We can totally automate the process, creating a far more efficient and effective buying experience for our customers.

If one size DOES fit all, then we don’t need managers–or as many managers. We can fire up the same standard reports and send them to the people, saying they should improve.

Selling is a human process. Leadership is a very human process. Customers are different, our people our different. We engage them more effectively when we connect with them as human beings.

One size DOESN’T FIT All. And that’s the reward of what we as sales people and leaders do. It’s sitting down with each individual, understanding their goals, problems, hopes, and dreams. It’s helping them figure out how to achieve them, and where we might help.