Are you struggling with your conversion rates? Do you get right to the edge of finalizing the deal but just can’t close it? We all know that your prospects are evaluating you right from the moment they answer your first call, but is there a way for you to influence their evaluation?

In this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl speaks with Karen Dunne-Squire, the brilliant Creator and Managing Director of Elation. Darryl and Karen discuss the 4 ways that buyers evaluate you and provide terrific tools that will help ensure you make a positive impression. Learn how you’re going to be evaluated by your prospects, and make it easier for you to make that sale! It’s all right here on this important episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!

Not in the mood to listen? No problem, you can read the transcriptions below.

Host:  Darryl PraillVanillaSoft

Guest:  Karen Dunne-Squire, Elation


Darryl Praill: How ya doing, folks? Guess what? I’m really excited. I have this long pause of silence for drama. I almost need some music, right? Maybe I’ll tell the editors in post. Editors, if you’re listening to this, give me, give me a little dramatic drum roll. What do they call that with the cymbals and all that? I want a drum roll. Here we go. This is episode number 50. Five zero, folks. We’ve made it 50 episodes. They said it wouldn’t happen. And yet, it is happening, it’s growing. The audience is getting huge. I love your feedback.

Darryl Praill: I’m gonna do a shout-out right now on the anniversary of our 50th episode. I rarely do this. But all those who are following me are trying to make sure that we all grow on this show together. So if you could, please go to your favorite podcast directory, iTunes, Spotify, Google, what have you. Please go there, and actually rate the INSIDE Inside Sales show. If you can give me a review I would be most grateful. If you’re gonna rate it at one star or two stars or three stars I would humbly request that instead of doing that you’d just contact me directly and tell me why I suck so much.

Darryl Praill: But if you are getting value out of this, and I think you are because I get amazing feedback every single day almost from you, then please do me that courtesy, that small little favor and go out and do that. So that is my one and only plug for today. On the episode of the, on the anniversary of our 50th episode, I thought it’d be kind of fun to share a little story. Because earlier this year I think I shared in one of the earlier podcasts that my wife and I just celebrated 30 years of marriage.

Darryl Praill: So we’ve kinda got this 30 years of marriage. We’ve got this 50 episodes. We’ve got all these milestones happening. And after all, that’s what life is really all about, right? It’s a series of milestones up and down. My wife and I, people have asked us, “How did you hit 30?” And I was talking to her about this literally the other day. And I was sharing this. And I was saying to her how, “I want to get you on an episode, honey. “I want to get you on a video or an episode.” Because we started talking about the magic of 30. And how the relationship that she and I have is really based on a series of sales skills.

Darryl Praill: Sometimes I want something out of the relationship, sometimes she wants something out of the relationship. And we have to influence one another. We have to make that initial inquiry. Then we have to qualify the inquiry. Then we have to determine is this something that I need to pursue, or I can pursue later, or I need to address right now? In other words, how important is it if I were to forecast this on my scale, my funnel of opportunities in the relationship to continue to grow it. Is this a big one or a little one? And then based on that I need to better understand. And then I need to ask some questions to qualify. Then I make a proposal so if I did this and you got that life would be great.

Darryl Praill: And then afterward, once whatever it is we are negotiating occurs, I make sure I come back and say, “Are you happy? “Did that work for you? “I’m sorry if that didn’t go the way you planned.” 30 years of marriage, folks. Like any relationship, whether it’s a sales relationship or a personal relationship, is all about negotiation. And it was interesting because in the early days we struggled with our negotiation. Let me share if this at all sounds familiar to you. I would do this thing, I’d do a lot of favors for her, right? So she’d go out with some friends, who knows? And when she’d come home I had maybe spent four hours washing her car. She’s not the most tidiest person in the world when it comes to her car, she’s, house is spotless, car not so much. And it would be clean in the inside and the outside and be vacuumed and polished and everything else, waxed, buffed, incredible. And she’d come home and she’d go, see that silence, that’s what she would do. She would go, nothing. In other words, I’m waiting for her to say something and nothing would happen.

Darryl Praill: And finally I’d say to her, “Hey, did you see I washed your car?” And she’d say, “Oh, yeah, I did, I noticed that, “thank you, honey,” and carry on. And I would be let’s just say frustrated. And then she would, later on, she would say, she’d be upset. And I’m like, “Well, why are you upset?” And she goes, “Well, we haven’t spent any time together.” I’m like, “We haven’t spent any time together? “We’ve been together the whole day. “We went and got groceries, “we went and did this with the kids, “we sat side by side, we had meals together. “How can you say we’ve done not spent time together? “I’m confused.” And she would say, “Well, just quality time. “Just you and I just talking “and looking into each other’s eyes and sharing our lives.” And I’m like, “But we did that. “We were side by side in the car “and we had those conversations.”

Darryl Praill: And I would discount it. And then we finally read a book. And this book was called “The Five Love Languages.” If you haven’t read it yet, please, I encourage you to go read it. And what we learned was this. For me, I express my affections through acts of service. And for her, she expresses her affections through acts of time. So I would do services for her, wash her car, clean the house. She would always, always, always be with me. And we thought we were showing each other that we loved each other. But the reality was we just weren’t understanding how we evaluated our affections. And once we understood, once I understood that me intentionally spending time with her would influence any outcomes I wanted, life got better.

Darryl Praill: And then she was all of a sudden intentionally started doing acts of service for me, making me a lunch, for example, when I didn’t ask her to, for work. Once we understood how each other’s, what each other’s criteria was to evaluate one another’s affections, our relationship had, let’s just say, had a much higher conversion rate and we’ll leave it at that. So with that, I said, “I can’t be alone, “this has to be the exact same way in sales.” And then I was talking to Karen Dunne-Squire. Now if you don’t know Karen Dunne-Squire, she is with the, I’m sorry, everyone, I said the. She is with Elation Experts out of the UK. And you can check them out online, She is the creator and the managing director.

Darryl Praill: And she’s, she claims, and I know for a fact that she’s actually very accurate when she makes this claim ’cause A, she’s won awards, and B, she’s a social media darling because of this, the UK’s most effective business growth agency. So whether that’s practices or processes, it’s all about maximizing revenue. And we had this conversation, Karen and I did, because we were talking not too long ago in London when I was there for an event, and we were talking about how people evaluate you when you call them and whether or not you engage with them right. And how that can have a dramatic impact on how you can maximize or totally obliterate your conversion rate on every inquiry you get. So I said, “Karen, you gotta come on the show.” And here she is. Karen, welcome to the show.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Hi, Darryl, how are you?

Darryl Praill: I’m doing well, and I understand you’re in, is it, I don’t wanna say sunny, but you’re in Bristol right now, which is, for those that don’t know the UK, that’s in the southwest of the UK. How’s the weather today there? ‘Cause it’s cold as the dickens here in Canada.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Well, at least that makes me feel a bit better. I think for anyone who know the UK you’re probably gonna realize that in October it’s not so warm here either.

Darryl Praill: Not so warm, shades of gray.

Karen Dunne-Squire: But it’s pretty sunny.

Darryl Praill: That’s good, well, I’m glad to hear it.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Yep.

Karen Dunne-Squire: So talk to me about this whole evaluation criteria. ‘Cause I could see you smiling as I was sharing my story. And I know it’s not necessarily a sales story, but in many regards it is ’cause we’re all people. And is it true, I mean, how did you come across this discussion around how people actually evaluate and how that affects the sales professional’s ability to influence the customer’s buying decision?

Darryl Praill: Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, your first point is so relevant, Darryl, because I am a firm believer that sales is about great communication. And any skill that you master as a salesperson would absolutely help you be a better communicator in your private life. So I am not surprised that it’s had positive impacts on personal relationships too. So let me tell you about this key conversation that we have about evaluation criteria. I learned very early on in sales from one of my mentors who is a really fantastic gentleman that the minute that you get an inquiry from a prospect they immediately begin a proactive process of evaluation.

Darryl Praill: And they will continue that proactive process of evaluation with you or without you and come to their own conclusions. And it’s only if you have a positive impact on their evaluation and you help them to make the right buying decision that you can maximize the amount of revenue that you generate. So I’ve more recently thought if we can empower salespeople to have really quality impact over that evaluation, then we’re gonna help salespeople to make more money and be more successful and have more to celebrate, which I’m hoping we both agree is really what salespeople are all about.

Karen Dunne-Squire: I think we can agree on that.

Darryl Praill: Yeah.

Karen Dunne-Squire: So we’ve done an awful lot of work in the last 10 years since I started Elation on specifically looking to understand how human beings evaluate, and what different buying journeys there are that will allow people to make their primary buying decisions. And essentially we have come up with the outcome that there are four key buying criteria. Everyone evaluates in one of these four ways. Everyone has a different sense of priority as to which one of these is their highest requirement. And if we can drill down into the evaluation criteria, identify where our clients sit, and respond to that, then we have a much, much higher likelihood of being able to convert sales.

Darryl Praill: And so is the premise here basically I’ve got the inquiry and now I’ve finally got them on the phone, for example, and I’m gonna have a conversation. And if I can quickly determine which of these four methods they use, kinda like almost thinking, I’m using the analogy, this may be a bad analogy, of their personality make-up, are they introverts, are they extroverts, et cetera. If I can figure that out quickly then the likelihood of my being able to influence their evaluation favorably towards me rises dramatically.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Definitely. It’s absolutely true. And so let me give you an example. Have you ever, and I know, Darryl, you’re great at convincing people. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had a fantastic sales engagement with someone, they have loved everything you’ve had to say, you’ve had a real rapport with them, you’ve been absolutely convinced that this person is gonna become a client, and for whatever reason the deal didn’t make it across the line? Has that happened?

Darryl Praill: Yes.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Sure.

Darryl Praill: I have no problem admitting that. Over and over, ’cause I know I’m not alone, so therefore I can admit it and be safe.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Absolutely. It’s happened to all of us. And for most of us we do one of two things. We get a little bit angry with the client. Well, that idiot, they were time wasted, they were never gonna buy anyway. We ever done that?

Darryl Praill: Talked a good game, but didn’t actually follow through.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Yeah, so we blame the client, we say the client was a time-waster, we’re not happy with their response. Or the second thing that we do is we blame ourselves. We say I’m useless, I can’t convert anyone, I’m awful, I’m never gonna hit my targets, yeah?

Darryl Praill: Yep, yep.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Do either of those things make us better salespeople?

Darryl Praill: No.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Not really.

Darryl Praill: Not really, no, no.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Not really. So what the evaluation criteria teaches us is actually the reason that that happens to you is because there is an evaluation priority that that person had that you didn’t meet. And what we know is that as human beings we tend to sell in the way that we like to buy. So we would naturally be selling in one of the four criteria. So we would be very likely to convert people who have the same buying criteria as we have.

[bctt tweet=”‘So what the evaluation criteria teaches us is actually the reason you don’t close is because there is an evaluation priority that that person had that you didn’t meet.’ ~ @KarenSos #SalesTips #SalesEngagement” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Karen Dunne-Squire: People who are in the other three criteria we would convert at a less high rate. So if we can begin to master these four criteria and allow ourselves to flex based on the person that we’re with, we then start to not get angry with the client, not get angry with ourselves, and actually maximize the amount of revenue that we make. So it’s a win-win for everybody, not just mindset.

Darryl Praill: So I love that because it’s very much like I was just describing with my wife’s relationship and I, right? Where I showed my affection the way I wanted to receive affection. I did acts of service ’cause I wanted to receive acts of service. And then I, and I couldn’t understand why she, as much as she had loved me and she was life partner, didn’t necessarily react favorably when I did those things. And to your point, I just didn’t understand how she evaluated. And that’s huge. Okay, let’s start with it. Way number one, walk us through it.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Great, so the four evaluation criteria, in no particular order, please bear in mind there is no priority, there’s no better, no worse. Number one is a business evaluator, okay? So somebody who evaluates a buying decision based on business criteria are thinking about things such as the quality of the brand, the legacy of the brand, the values that that brand has and whether they want to align to those brands.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Looking at things like whether there’s a good website in place, whether that business appears to be a really credible organization. And these are your friends who will only ever wear a Levi jean even though there’s tons of other brands available because they like to align themselves to a brand that they feel secure and safe with. Does that make sense?

Darryl Praill: It makes perfect sense. And for me as a marketer that’s why I put such a heavy emphasis on our brand, our website, our appearance, even our production quality. Because I want to make sure I come across as credible. I don’t want to generate perceptions of risk if my brand doesn’t come across as credible.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Definitely. And business evaluators will rule out a purchase with a business if the brand is not reputable and credible enough. Because that will totally devalue the purchase in their minds. So that’s number one. You might already be getting a sense of where you fit. Let’s skip through to number two. So the second of the four evaluation criteria is an individual evaluator. So we will have all heard the old adage people buy from people.

Darryl Praill: Yes.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Yep, actually for some that isn’t true. For an individual evaluator our primary buying decision is our relationship with the person we’re dealing with. So we’re thinking about do I have strong rapport with this individual? Is this individual available and accessible? Do I trust this individual and believe in their credibility?

Karen Dunne-Squire: We absolutely define our buying choices based on the connection we have with the person that we buy from. Individual evaluators will be less concerned about brand and more about individual personality. And individual evaluators also find online purchases where there’s a lack of connection with people much more challenging. How does that sit with the way that you evaluate do you think?

Darryl Praill: So yeah, I mean, I’m a big person. If I don’t trust you, if I don’t, especially the bigger the price tag, the more I’m dependent upon you to make sure you’re representing, you’ve got my back, and if have any hiccups I need to know you’re gonna be there to play clean up and help make sure we get this rectified. ‘Cause I don’t want my colleagues, my bosses to think that I dropped the ball. So having huge faith in you is important.

Darryl Praill: But let me ask this. So, ’cause you said they want a personal relationship, maybe the written site isn’t as important. But where does this fall between business, we talked about brand, and individual if I use the example of my own, for example, LinkedIn profile, it’s my profile. So I make sure that my profile looks credible, that I’m engaged, that I’m a subject-matter expert ’cause I’m posting and commenting. So that’s a little bit of branding, but it’s also a lot about me and who I am as an individual.

Karen Dunne-Squire: 100%. And the thing is that we can share our personality in ways that don’t just involve our voice. So someone who is an individual evaluator would absolutely be connected to your LinkedIn profile. And one of the things that I will do with my customers is I will offer them the opportunity to look over my profile and review me online.

Karen Dunne-Squire: I know that if they take that opportunity and they spend time looking at my credentials, my recommendations on LinkedIn that they are highly likely to be an individual evaluator. Someone who doesn’t invest time in getting to know me and researching me as a person is unlikely to be in that criteria of evaluation. So you can start to suss out where people are by the way that they engage with you.

Darryl Praill: So there’s two reactions I have to that, all right? So one, I was just at the Rev it Up Sales Leader Summit in Boston that Lori Richardson hosts every year, and I was speaking on personal branding. And I asked the audience to your point, I said, “When was the last time you googled yourself? “Because what you see is what your prospects, “your inquiries see. “So it better look good. “If it doesn’t that’s a bad thing, you gotta fix that.” And I love that you said it’s more than just voice. That’s huge. So is that maybe perhaps where the whole personality matrix, I’m an ENTJ, whatever my four-letter acronym, might come in more, so I want to connect one on one as an individual. Is that the one, is that there you talking about?

[bctt tweet=”‘When was the last time you googled yourself? Because what you see is what your prospects, your inquiries see. So it better look good.’ ~ @KarenSos #SalesTips #SalesEngagement” username=”VanillaSoft”]

Karen Dunne-Squire: Absolutely right. So individual evaluators tend to be those people who are higher on that people rated scale. They’re focused on relationships, they’re focused on individuals, less task-focused. And so for them rapport and engagement is absolutely fundamental and they would struggle to be confident in a buying decision if they haven’t achieved that. But it’s not the case for everybody. And if we are an individual evaluator we often think it is, but it absolutely isn’t.

Darryl Praill: All right, so our first one, for the first evaluation criteria was for some people it’s your business, your brand, your quality, your legacy, your ethics, your values. Second one was the individual, personal relationships. Individual communications, et cetera. All right, that’s one and two. Now three.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Yep, so number three is the service and solutions evaluator. So this is a really pragmatic purchase. This is someone who is very focused on their deliverables, they’re very focused on the service level agreements that will be in place. They will have a very clear idea of the needs that they want to have met and they will have great attention to detail in ensuring that those needs are met. They don’t buy on instinct. They buy based on rational, proven statistical analysis.

Karen Dunne-Squire: They’re great for many salespeople because they tend to be less price-focused. They’re focused on quality. They understand that to get good value they might need to pay a premium rate. But their focus is on the outcomes and the solutions that they get. And they would be less prone to research the individual and the business as long as their specific needs were being addressed in the service slash product that they’re buying.

Darryl Praill: So, I can totally relate to this one as well. Ironically I can relate to all of them. And I’m sure I’m biased one way versus another. But I love that you said that they’re focused on the outcomes. Make me feel good that you have the skills, the talent, the people, the processes, the practices to deliver what it is I’m trying to achieve. Because in the end the reason we’re talking is ’cause I have a pain. So I don’t care who the company is, I don’t care who the individual is, I just want my pain fixed. Can you physically deliver this service? Do you have the solution? And I get that entirely. So this is interesting, right?

Darryl Praill: ‘Cause if first, think about this, folks. If first was the business, so I’ll use my employer, VanillaSoft. Is it a good brand or not? Second is the individual. Darryl Praill, do you trust Darryl or not? Third is services and solutions. I need a sales engagement solution. I don’t care which vendor provides it or who the sales rep is as long as you can get my reps more engaged, making more emails, more phone calls, more texts, more social stuff just to increase my pipeline, that’s what I need. And that is spot on. For some people I totally get that. That makes perfect sense.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Right. And the thing you should be really mindful of is I’m not suggesting for a moment that we only consider one criteria when we buy. We are obviously influenced by all four of them. But we will always have a priority that is our what I call deal-breaker. The one thing that has to be right or I’m gonna walk away from the sale. So the fourth one, so we get the clear picture, is what we call an external evaluator.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Now these guys, they want to know more than just about you and your business. They need external evidences, they need third-party validation. So these guys are gonna know a lot about your competitors. They will have analyzed the market. They will know what are the alternatives out there. They will be very heavily swayed by testimonials and case studies and they will expect to see that evidence and that proof that you have delivered elsewhere. They don’t base their decision on instinct or what is presented to them by the business.

Karen Dunne-Squire: They’re wanting to look outside for external evidences that back up their rationale for buying. And so these guys, if they don’t see case studies and testimonials, you can have the best business in the world, you can be the most engaging individual in the world, you’re not gonna seal the deal with them because they need some external third-party evidence that you really are what you say you are because they’re the more cautious deciding individual.

Darryl Praill: So it’s ironic you say that because I think just last week, using VanillaSoft as an example here for the sales audience who are listening, we issued a press release announcing that we were leaders in G2’s assessment on, based on public, socially sourced reviews on sales engagement. We were a leader, all right? We just issued a buyer’s guide that was authored by an independent third-party analyst so you can see that it’s not biased, it’s not the vendor saying it, here’s somebody else saying it. We put a lot of money into making sure that we have that third-party credibility because we recognize a lot of people need that validation. And there’s two ways on this part, right?

Darryl Praill: The whole process may start from here, meaning they had a word of mouth from someone, a referral from someone they trust. “Hey, have you guys checked out VanillaSoft?” “I haven’t, I’m gonna go look now.” So that was the one way. The other way, of course, is now I’m at the buying point of the decision, to your point when we began this whole conversation, Karen, wonderful conversation, nothing converted. Well, it might not have converted in the end because they did, they checked out your social proof, they did your reviews, they talked to other users, and they didn’t see anything and that was a warning flag. So as much as I like you and your product looked cool, I perceived risk and I didn’t buy.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Yes.

Darryl Praill: All right, so let me ask this question. We got business, individual, service and solutions, and the external, whether that be reviews, case studies, et cetera. I’m the sales rep, I’m on the phone. Is there a way, is there a method, a technique, a tactic I can use to suss out where my prospect is more inclined on these four?

Karen Dunne-Squire: Yeah, there definitely are. And, in fact, it’s probably a little bit of an exercise that you can do individually. Any salesperson, sales professional can carry this out. Part of the skill of using this criteria is to become very skillful at asking the right kind of questions in order that you can establish where somebody is. So I can give you a few that will help feed into this.

Karen Dunne-Squire: When you’re speaking to a prospect or customer in the early stage of the process, questions like have you taken any time to look at us online? If they say no, they’re not a business evaluator. A business evaluator will understand your business, they will understand your brand, they will have googled you before they come across you. There’s other questions that you can ask around. Would you be interested in an introduction to somebody else who is using our services? If the answer to that is no, then they are not someone who is going to do a lot of external research and is gonna be validated in that way.

Karen Dunne-Squire: Service and solutions are very, very outcomes-focused, so questions like talk to me about what specifically you need from us as a company. If they are sort of, oh, I don’t really know, mate, I haven’t worked that out yet, they’re not a service and solutions evaluator. Service and solutions will have a very clear list of what they need and want from you. So there’s a lot of triggers that you can pull out by questions that you ask that will help you to understand whether that person is evaluating you in a certain way.

Karen Dunne-Squire: One thing to be really aware of is with individual evaluators they will certainly have a personal approach to that phone call. So they’ll be interested in you as a person and they will likely share tips and tricks about themselves. So you’ll hear about their pet dogs and the football team that they support. If someone’s not in that relationship-led buying criteria they’re just not gonna talk to you in that way. So a few little tips there.

Darryl Praill: That is brilliant. So I guess I would say to those listening, you should have all these tools in your tool bag to represent, when you’re selling, you should be able, whether there’s a PowerPoint or a qualifying process, or collateral or content, you should have the ability to advocate and pitch the merits of your business, of your own credibility. So that’s on you, LinkedIn, Google, et cetera, make sure you’ve got your affairs in order. Your service and your solutions, right, so overview of it.

Darryl Praill: Make sure outcomes, ROI calculators, those kind of things. And external reviews. If you don’t have that you need to talk to those in your company who drive that to equip you. But to Karen’s point, the more soon you ask those leading questions the more you understand where they buy as, where they weight more heavily their decision-making process so you just don’t have a great conversation and nothing comes of it. You actually convert it. You actually either it becomes a real forecasted deal now, we’re in negotiations, or you’re discounted quickly, either way.

Darryl Praill: But if you know that they’re big on external reviews and you have, you’re a brand new company with no social proof, you’re almost better off just to leave it alone and move on to the next deal and not waste your time. All right, so, we’re almost out of time. Episode number 50 has come and it’s about to go. If you like what you have heard from Karen, I told you she was good, folks, I would not mislead you as you know that. Check her out at Karen is prolific on LinkedIn. She is a speaker in demand. I know she just got back from Croatia, she was there with a lot of Europe’s most high-profile speakers including our good friend Dan Disney, so you know she’s hanging out with good company.

Darryl Praill: She is a dynamo when it comes to all stuff that’s related to the practices and processes around maximizing your revenue. Follow her, reach out to her, email her, contact her. But in the meantime, leverage her knowledge about the four ways people evaluate so you can influence the customer buying decision and convert more of those inquiries to deals. Hopefully, with that lesson, folks, you are 1% smarter today than you were when you began about 30 minutes ago. Karen, thank you for your time today. I had a blast.

Karen Dunne-Squire: So did I, Darryl, absolute pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Darryl Praill: All right, folks, we’ll talk to you soon. Next week, same time, same place, I’ll be there. Don’t forget, give us a review. I’ll talk to you soon, bye-bye.