SalesCast #2: Be a Connector… of people & ideas [podcast]

connectorThis is short podcast (only 8 minutes!) recorded from New York City in which I talk about the value of being a connector of people and ideas with your current and future customers.

I attended a conference on behalf of my work with Blend Labs, and in reviewing my day of meetings, I realized that most of my conversations didn’t focus on Blend’s products. Instead, the conversations focused on ideas and people where I could support our future customers.

Add value, add value, add value…


SalesCast #1: Startup Selling with Conference Escorts (sales podcast)

In this SalesCast, Robert and I talk about “conference escorts.”

WingmanWe discuss how to set meetings at a conference, executing on those meetings, and following afterwards. Throughout the conversation, we talk about lots and lots of practical strategies – everything from using “InMails” on LinkedIn to sending meeting confirmations via text to roles (or “casting”) in a meeting to using questions to land more meetings.

Detailed Show Notes:

Intro: This SalesCast is brought to you by, well, SalesQualia. Improve Sales Performance with:

  1. Self-learning resources, including books on and self-paced online courses.
  2. Workshops & Training, hosted at venues across Silicon Valley and the US.
  3. 1:1 Coaching & Consulting for company founders and sales professionals that want a personalized plan.

2:30 – Introducing “conference escorts” and what this person does for startup founders & entrepreneurs at conferences and live events.

5:32 – Using multiple people in a meeting to facilitate conversation at a conference meet-and-greet conversation.

7:08 – Roles & casting for meetings. How to position each person on your side in a meeting based on person you’re meeting.

9:00 – Using ambiguity to your advantage. Having the second person on your side as a “wild card” in a meeting to allow for flexibility in the casting for a meeting.

11:18 – Positioning yourself as a business conference escort and setting up meetings for startups.

12:20 – Using “customer development” to your advantage to landing meetings with executives

13:30 – LinkedIn & InMails to set conference appointments

16:00 – Results using LinkedIn & InMails to get 25-40% response rates for conference meeting requests instead of emails.

18:30 – Why using conference escorts might be a good idea for a startup founder/entrepreneur

20:20 – How much time should you plan to spend setting up appointments prior to a conference?

21:30 – Approaches and research for sending effective InMails and appointment requests

24:00 – Helping an outside sales consultant to get up to speed with your product and value proposition

25:30 – Managing responses to meeting requests for conference meetings

26:00 – General time and budget allocation pre and post-conference. Pricing out a conference project with a sales consultant. Setting up incentives and setting baseline expectations.

30:30 – Building a conference escort team. Who do you hire? How do you build a team? What to do if the startup wants to hire a conference escort on a full-time basis?

33:30 – Finding talent to help with customer development at conferences including part-timers and established business veterans.

36:15 – Breaking down the stages of conference meeting development – pre-conference, at the conference, and after the conference.

38:20 – Tips for sending meeting invites for conference meetings. Confirming appointments.

39:30 – Ideas for finding conference [business] escorts

42:00 – Using people only for the conference itself, not pre- and post-conference follow ups.

44:18 – Post-conference follow ups. What to do after the meeting? How to pull these meetings through to be real sales leads? Avoiding the dead space after conferences.

47:30 – What to do if you met with someone that isn’t a decision-maker?

50:00 – Revisiting success metrics for conference meetings. Defining a quality meeting with four (4) success metrics.

54:00 – Identifying gatekeepers & heros vs a true partner at your prospect

56:00 – Wrap up and summary

Here’s a link to the podcast one more time…

Your customers are lazy cows & it’s not their fault


Cows don’t know any better. They wake up, they eat grass, they walk along windy, crooked paths simply because some cow before them walked that long, windy, crooked path.

In a company or organization, this is called “path dependency.” Microeconomic research also shows that humans are generally risk averse. People have an aversion to taking risk and maintain a “status quo bias” – they desire for the current status even when a proposed change will improve their situation in the long run. Anyone that’s worked for a big company (or even a small one) has heard – “I don’t know. That’s just the way it’s done around here…”

As an entrepreneur or salesperson with a new product – one that will absolutely improve the situation of your prospective customers – how do you deal with this reality?

As the keynote speaker at last night’s Sacramento Startup Expo, I suggested to the audience that they focus on two things:2015-04-06 19.56.05

1. Give your customers a specific reason to make a change. It has to be more than just the standard – “Our product will decrease your costs by 35% over 12 months…” or “Our customers have experienced a 55% increase in efficiency after implementing our solution…”

Find a way to connect with person and team making the purchasing decision. What is their personal motivation? How are their personal goals and incentives aligned with your product?

As an example, imagine your buyer is a newly appointed division head While she’s probably looking for ways to increase output and run the business more efficiently, her personal motivation might be to find ways to score quick wins in the first 90 days to prove to her managers that they made the right decision in hiring her for the job.

  • Could you align your solution with her short term needs to find quick wins, instead of selling a long term solution that might take months to implement,
  • Are there high value problems in the business unit that your product addresses immediately?
  • Could run a pilot program at a low economic cost to her so the decision stays local, and if successful, she can then show her managers who she is immediately impacting the business?

By keeping the implementation small, she wins if the pilot is successful because she looks like a hero. And if the pilot fails, she need not worry about losing face with her superiors early in her tenure.

2. Motivate your customers to take action by demonstrating a clear implementation plan. Show your buyers how purchasing and implementation process works when they buy from you.

For example, build a “7 x 1” framework, thinking in terms of “first” time period intervals to show your customers specifically what happens when they purchase from you. These intervals are:

The first minute…
The first hour…
The first day…
The first week…
The first month…
The first quarter…
The first year…

What would happen the very first minute that your customer gives you the green light? Would you inform your engineering team to begin implementing immediately? Would you set up a conference call with the customer’s chief risk officer to discuss the implementation plan? Would you set up logins for all of the users covered by the license? It’s different for every product and every customer, so think about what should happen this very first minute for each customer.

Further, after the first hour, what would have happened? Do you call the customers IT department to discuss support systems? Do you schedule travel for onsite training? Do you contact the finance department to arrange payment specifications?

By the end of the first week, should you have finished training and have your first users logging into your software? Should you be rolling out your software with the customer’s satellite office in Tacoma?

It’s up to you, your product, and the customer as to what happens. This will be different for every situation.

Following this “first” interval thinking and share your plan with your customer, gives them the confidence they deserve to know what you’re doing. This also builds trust and presents the opportunity to develop this plan with the customer. Maybe the customer says – “Hmmm….. rolling out to the Tacoma office after the first week is a little aggressive. We should do plan that for week three.” Great! Now you have buy in from your customer and they become your partner in the sales process to push through this decision.

Help your customers find new grass in the pasture by giving them a reason to take action with a clear plan.