Your messaging should change as you move through the funnel. That’s why your sales and communication skills go hand-in-hand.
This week on INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl is joined by sales training and communications expert Jeff Molander. Darryl and Jeff dive right into how you should be communicating with your clients and go over the high-level risks associated with poor communication, such as inadvertently making yourself a commodity instead of a powerful growth engine. They also share valuable tips on how and when to switch from sounding like a marketer to becoming a trusted advisor. Learn how you can use tactful communication to achieve greater impact on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!
Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft
Darryl Praill: How are you doing today folks? Oh my goodness, I’m looking out the window, the skies are blue, the grass is green, life is good, I’m feeling the energy. How about you? Whereabouts are you at this moment in time? Are you in the car? Are you perhaps out for a run? You know where I listen to a lot of my podcasts? This is bordering on TMI, I listen to a lot of my podcasts in the shower, I’ve got a little portable shower speaker, it’s waterproof, so they claim I’ve never really tested that and I hook it over the edge, my wife hates it because it reverbs in the shower and then it leaks out and then she doesn’t… Not a fan necessarily of all the shows I listened to.
Darryl Praill: Ah married life, eh? Relationships, that’s what they all are. Our guest today, whom you’re gonna meet shortly, I learned as we were prepping is married to a fine Bulgarian woman whom he met on match.com and they’ve been married he thinks, 17 years, Oh I hope that she’s not listening, here’s the word “He thinks.” But he’s an original case story of how you can use the world of online to physically establish connections and rapport and in his case, love and everlasting relationships, that’s fantastic. I had a conversation the other day that I thought might be good for the show. I was talking to an individual, it was a good conversation, the individual was not a salesperson they were actually a marketer, young marketer and they were poking and prodding and kind of looking for some mentorship, I have a lot of respect, you can see raw talent sometimes, right?
Darryl Praill: You can just see raw talent and you just go oh man, if this individual is gonna be a rockstar in five years, they’re just brilliant. And this young lad was just that. But we got into the whole conversation about top of funnel, top of funnel, or as you put it the sales parlance, the beginning of the buyer’s journey. And he was lamenting, he’s like “Darryl, we look at you like you’re not just a marketing guy you understand the whole thing but you’re like a sales guy too and you spend all this time talking about sales. I look at you like that’s where I wanna be and I’m so far back and I don’t really know, I’m just the inbound guy, I’m just a social media guy.” And I said, “Dude, at your age, to be known as the inbound guy, the social media guy? I would have killed to have that reputation.”
Darryl Praill: See what you don’t understand, is the start of a conversation is the most critical aspect in the pursuit of a sale. How you start a conversation, how you engage a conversation, how you find the conversation is what dictates the success. if I say something wrong, if I don’t reach out correctly, the conversation never takes place and you may ultimately buy, your prospect may buy from somebody else and that’s bad. If I say something that offends you, if I say something that is off-putting, if I say something that is offensive, if I say something that conveys I don’t know what I’m talking about, then warning signs go off, right? Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, danger, danger, danger Will Robinson if you’re a lost in space fan from the sixties. And by the way, the nineties remake with Matt LeBlanc was not good, just so we’re clear on that one and the modern one on Netflix was good but short-lived.
Darryl Praill: So, that’s the scoop about the importance of communication. But then I was also talking to this young man about how critical it is, that your messaging changes as you develop through the funnel and I can’t say that enough, your messaging changes as you move through the funnel. And that’s just not you as a salesperson or marketer, but it’s also as you change roles, right? So, the way a marketer speaks to a prospect is gonna be different than the way a sales development rep speaks to a prospect, then the way an account executive speaks and you have to recognize that cause you all have your roles. So, but here’s the thing, even though it’s different and you have different roles, you all have to work together in harmony, three-part harmony and that’s what we call the customer experience. So that the experience feels fluid and natural.
Darryl Praill: That I mean, moving through the funnel from the top to you, to them, that’s when sales and marketing are online, but it all comes back to how you talk to your prospect. And, I mentioned this whole concept of the marketer passing off to the SDR and of course, for those who don’t know, the premise of an SDR began when the very lauded Aaron Ross wrote the book “Predictable Revenue”. He was the individual who said, “These are the roles”, and everybody transitioned to those roles and out of that shift, came a whole new approach to how we sell and that’s been especially rampant in high tech, prolifically rampant in the SaaS world, but not nearly as rampant in other industries, say manufacturing or insurance. Which begs the question, is that the right approach or not?
Darryl Praill: If not all the other industries picked it up, is it do rego and that’s where we pick it up? Do we copy each other and we say, that must be the right way or not? I’m getting deep here, I’m talking messaging, I’m talking to engagement, I’m talking to sales and marketing alignment, I’m talking three-part harmony, I’m talking the roles and the structure, I’m bordering on what the show doesn’t talk about, but I’m gonna bring it all back, I’m gonna bring it all back right now. The important part of that whole conversation was throughout the buyer’s journey, you have to engage appropriately, you have to communicate appropriately. And I wanna repeat this, the way a marketer talks is different than how a salesperson talks and I’m gonna stop there for a second because I think sometimes you folks miss that point.
Welcome Jeff Molander
Darryl Praill: So, what I did, was I said, who is not only a sales training, advising rockstar, but who’s an individual who actually gets communications, is a communications expert ’cause I wanna tackle this topic today, I wanna tackle what you might be doing wrong when it comes to your communications, how that could be affecting your long-term career and success and what you need to know, in very specific manners and methods, to not make that mistake. So if you’re wondering who I brought on today, let me kill that suspense because you know what, that’s just the way I roll. Let me introduce to you Jeff Molander, do you know Jeff? Jeff is the guy when it comes to communications edge. He can be found at jeffmolander.com, he’s got a whole crew, I love his stuff and what I like about Jeff specifically beyond his charming good looks and his Bulgarian wife, is the fact that he’s got… And this is gonna sound almost geeky, he approaches things with an intellectualism that I don’t see pervasive and he’s one of the few people that when he says something, I sit back and I go, Hmm, cause like peeling an onion, there’s always more there. So today we gonna peel the onion, with Jeff. Jeff welcome to the show my friend, how you doing man? How you doing?
Jeff Molander: Alright calm down…
Darryl Praill: Calm down. I’ve only had one coffee.
Jeff Molander: Listen, I wish I have all the energy that you have, but I’m just kind of, I’m humbled to be here frankly, and I’m really… I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and I’m really glad to be here so.
Darryl Praill: So when I was going through my preamble, and by the way, I just crew, you guys listen to this every week I do this preamble and you guys are so good, but I do have a question, I want you to send me a private message. Feel free to make it anonymous. How many of you fast forward, like the first five minutes? Cause you just wanna get to the gas, I’m just curious,
Jeff Molander: They missed the whole part where you spilled the beans on my personal life.
Darryl Praill: Yes, see that’s the point they’re coming and they’re going, I missed the reference to the Bulgarian woman, I don’t understand that. So, see you shouldn’t fast forward.
Jeff Molander: They’re not here for that either, to be honest. But it was surprising to me to hear you talk about this.
Darryl Praill: Soon we bring it all in here, we’re crazy that we were bringing all these little touchpoints, be humanized, man, It’s about making a relationship, that’s what we’re talking about here. You’ve got some really cool points of view on this topic. So, I set the stage a little bit, but you’re much more direct sometimes.
Sales and communication skills
Darryl Praill: So I don’t wanna put words in your mouth, but I’ve heard you say that you think sales development reps, business development reps, call them what you will, today are just glorified marketers. Is that a fair statement or what?
Jeff Molander: No, our customers who have teams of SDRs and BDRs, many of the sales team leaders, I’m talking about the account team leaders are in war either silently or openly with the inside sales team, digital sales team and they literally call them… Our company will get in the middle of it and try to resolve this, that you guys are a bunch of glorified meeting centers, virtual assistants that we need you to be more but more than that. So, yes fair to say and I’m not the only one, I mean, this is oftentimes a war that’s going on quietly or openly within organizations. Can I take the pressure off of you for just one second and react to something that you said at the onset?
Jeff Molander: Listen what’s playing out with the global crisis and where there’s always gonna be some sort of crisis, the economy does this the economy does that, every few years we see the same thing, right? Jobs are plentiful, jobs are not plentiful, people are making money, people are struggling unemployment, all these kinds of things. In the world of sales… Here’s my gem of wisdom, unsolicited, nobody asked me, but I noticed when by the time I was about 30 Darryl, I noticed that and I was in marketing most of my life, but I noticed the first thing to get cut during the difficult times is marketing, don’t like that, it never liked that. Second thing I noticed about marketing was my pay raise sucked. So third thing I found out about, I realized I love marketing you can’t take me away from marketing, I love it. can’t do enough of it.
Jeff Molander: The third thing I realized was it’s not nearly as challenging as sales. This is why salespeople are paid an unusually, I mean, a lot of them, they pay more than doctors in many cases, lawyers. So, I wanted some of that, I wanted to be challenged and I wanted an endless supply of an endless opportunity, sky’s the limit and I didn’t wanna get cut. I wanted to become a valuable, I wanna be a valuable part of a company. So what I’m seeing these days is, when SDRs and BDRs are aligned with marketing, and we’re seeing this play out right now, when the layoffs come, they don’t lay off the men and women who have those relationships, those account executives, who have those skills and those relationships. Those people don’t get laid off, nearly as quickly and easily as those glorified appointment setters.
Jeff Molander: And that gets back to our discussion I think today, which is skillset. What is your skillset? Account executives have a high level of communications capability when it comes to interacting with a client. Broadly speaking, broadly, it’s not this way, everywhere. Some organizations are really empowering and upskilling their SDRs and BDRs, and that is the future. But you don’t want to be a part of an expense item, so marketing is an expense item, that was the point I wanted to make. Don’t be part of the expense item. Do you wanna be part of the expense? No, you wanna be part of the growth engine, make yourself, so make yourself so that you’re not expendable.
Darryl Praill: And I wanna hit up on that, you had a couple really important things here which is you made the point of saying the people who own the relationship are the ones who are gonna be valuable in tough times.
Jeff Molander: The client relationship.
Darryl Praill: The client relationship or the prospect relationship, you know that you’re in the middle of a sale and they truly value it. And those who are just doing for lack of a better word, commodity tasks, and appointments-
Jeff Molander: Finding the hand-raisers.
Darryl Praill: Finding the hand raiser. That includes marketing often as much as it does an SDR are the ones who are at risk of being rift, reduction enforced, laid off, furloughed for the company to endure, and survive through those tough times. So now every SDR on this, listening to this right now, and every BDR listening to this right now is in panic mode because they’re worried that you’ve just told them that A) they’re a commodity, B) that they’re a line item on a ledger that can be eliminated in tough times and this 2020 has been a series of tough times. So what I need you to do today is I need you to walk through and explain to me what the SDRs are doing that makes them a line item and how they should instead be approaching their job and the AEs can listen in and cherry-pick all the ideas too so that they’re not. Does that sound like a good deal to you?
Jeff Molander: Sure, sure, absolutely.
Darryl Praill: Okay, so what we’re gonna do, kids we’re gonna go for a quick little break and we come back, we’re just gonna hammer this guy, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. And he’s gonna give us gold nugget after gold nugget, after gold nugget, you should get your pen out, so when I come back, you’re ready, okay. And just sidebar, if you forget, if you don’t have your pen, if you’re out running for a jog, you’re in the car and you really shouldn’t be writing, driving at the same time, at VanillaSoft.com every single podcast is transcribed, you just rip off the transcription. So there you go we’re done, we’re gonna be right back, stay tuned, don’t go anywhere.
What should you be doing as an SDR?
Darryl Praill: Okay, where do we start? Let’s walk through the differences between what an SDR does today, cause I think what you’re saying is what they’re doing today is commodity. Tell me what-
Jeff Molander: No, you use that word, exactly the word.
Darryl Praill: That word, and I know, yeah, I don’t wanna put words in your mouth, but that is the word. Tell me what they’re doing and tell me what they should instead be doing. Does that work for you?
Jeff Molander: Sure.
Darryl Praill: Okay, so first things first, what’s the first thing they’re doing that they shouldn’t be doing instead? What should they be doing? Go.
Jeff Molander: Stop listening to marketing when it comes to formulating your outreach. Also stop going onto Google, looking for hacks that everybody else is using because that’s what Google does. Everybody’s Googling cold email template, creative cold email template, followup template, how to respond to not interested. Everybody’s doing that and everybody goes about two pages deep on Google, and those are all the same sources of information, many of them… And I’m gonna stick my neck out here and you can slap me across the face Darryl, many of them are software companies.
Darryl Praill: Yes they are-
Jeff Molander: You know, who provide outstanding software tools to follow up with prospects.
Darryl Praill: Yep, you will find much stuff from me, so from this point forward gentlemen and ladies, don’t… Jeff Molander said it here, “Don’t listen to Darryl Praill.” Carry on my friend.
Jeff Molander: I would never say such a thing-
Darryl Praill: But I heard him imply it, but carry on. It’s all good, I like where he’s going because I mean in all sincerity, I mean it’s true, it is 100, 200, 300% absolutely true. And everybody right now is giggling, cause you said that you go a page or two deep and you stop, that’s also true. So carry on, alight, so stop listening to marketing, stop Googling hacks.
Jeff Molander: The issue is that you’re doing everything that everybody else is doing, and it’s with regards to the software companies, they’re just trying to help. However, in just trying to help they’re creating content, everybody has to create content. So we create these templates and we make these blog posts, but they become problematic. And everybody knows they’re problematic, so when I say this to you, Darryl, I’m sure you’re going, yeah hmm hmm, I can see that, and other people going, yeah hmm, I can see that that’s a problem, I’m doing everything else that everybody else is doing-
Darryl Praill: Right, I sound the same I look the same.
Jeff Molander: Right, so don’t do what everybody else is doing. The question then is what the hell do I do?
Darryl Praill: Yes.
Jeff Molander: So… What you do is you upskill yourself, and what you do is understanding that there is something behind this. So there are people like Beck Holland who talk about transactional analysis, there are people like me who talk about the different aspects of challenger selling, what’s happening within the realm of psychologically speaking, and what are the differences, the key differences between sales copywriting and marketing copywriting, as it relates to your scripts, as it relates to what you’re sending in emails on LinkedIn, your voicemail scripts. The big don’t do is don’t let your marketing team develop those and hand them to you, and don’t go on to Google and don’t get all these other scripts sourced from elsewhere. So, roll it all up to, don’t be a marketer and we’ve… And again, this is very unconventional thinking, but we’ve spent the last 10 years or so hearing salespeople must become marketers, you have to own your own personal brand on LinkedIn, yada yada, yada.
Jeff Molander: This has been a complete disaster for the most part and is causing more problems than anything else. However, as you said, Darryl, the software industry in particular has been venture funded to the extent that SDRs and BDRs have become synonymous with marketing, they’re a line item expense. So, they are many times not in all organizations, but in many organizations underpaid and not trained in that and expected to learn from account executives who have absolutely no incentive to train them in many cases, not all cases, in many cases, And all the training burden is put on the account executive. And then they’re given crappy sales training as well the SDR teams. Sales training, that’s completely outdated that talks about using all these templates and stuff that doesn’t work anymore.
Darryl Praill: Okay, so you have just given me just a boatload of stuff there I’ve been taking notes like a madman. So this is what I’ve heard you say, I’m gonna recap for the audience. Quick and dirty, Jeff said, “Stop listening to marketers, stop Googling the hacks especially on a page or two, and using the templates, the objection handling that everybody else is using.” What I always say in that one is stop looking for a shortcut. Stop being like everybody else, because then you sound the same, you truly are commodity. This is probably the most important thing I heard you say the whole time you said, “Upskill yourself.”
Darryl Praill: And we’ve had multiple podcast episodes where we say, “Learning is earning.” Where you invest in your own skills development, you will earn more money. And by the way, and that means you pay for it. If your employer will pay for it, great, but if they don’t pay for it, you don’t not do it. You, just like a musician buys their own instruments and a sports player buys their own gear until they finally make that million-dollar paycheck, in which case they often still buy their own gear, you invest in yourself. You said Beck Holland is all over this with her concept of transactional analysis, looking at the transaction itself and how people feel and how you interact and make that transaction happen.
Darryl Praill: Jeff Molander, the man himself here is a huge advocate of challenger selling, the psychology of the sale. Copywriting is probably one of the biggest areas where you SDRs are actually messing up. You’re actually either being like marketing, you’re following marketing’s advice, you’re letting marketing do the writing for you cause you’re just, fine, it’s a shortcut, they’ll do it, you’ll take it. The influence of venture companies what Jeff didn’t say, but what was really saying was they follow a formula, everytime they invest in the company, they say, “Thou shalt do this.” And so therefore everybody’s doing the same thing. And the last thing is, this is the most like mind-blowing, your boss will say, watch Joe or watch Sally because they’re the kick-ass AEs, but the AEs themselves have absolutely no incentive to train you, which brings us back to upskill yourself.
Stop talking like a marketer
Darryl Praill: So we just ripped the bandaid off their kids, now we’re gonna get into the issue. I wanna focus on some of the marketing aspects, cause to me, what I’m hearing is a communication thing, a psychology thing. Xing, I don’t know where Xing comes from, it’s thing, but there we go. Don’t say, Xing, say thing. So, marketers, I’ll throw stuff out there and you tell me what marketers would what sales reps should or shouldn’t do. A marketer, I will always ask, and every single one of my campaigns I’ll do with my team, I’ll say in an email specifically, or even in a voicemail or a social media post, I’ll say, where’s the call to action? Should I have a call to action as an SDR when I’m reaching out? I mean, I’m just throwing it out there, I’m a marketer, I’m a commodity. Should I have a call to action?
Jeff Molander: This is not about my answers, what I’m about to give are not about my opinion or my experience, these are the experience of our collective customers. We operate an online community of people who come together and upskill themselves and learn about this stuff. They say, okay, Molander, if I shouldn’t have a call to action, which you shouldn’t, what should I do? So calls to action, no, call to action is a marketing construct, no surprise, that’s what we see in the SDR, BDR emails are these, you know, I’m looking forward to are weak words, first of all, looking forward to hearing back from you, are you interested in this, all these, let’s book a meeting, here’s my calendar link, all of this is an attempt to remove choice, it is not an attempt to empower the reader and give them the right to make a choice. These are attempts to remove choice, and that does not belong in. This is what I’m getting at with the sales mentality and the marketing mentality, marketers are about pushing, we’re pushing, we’re talking about ourselves, here’s our customer list, here’s what I want, I’m gonna be very clear with you about what I want, that’s what my subject line should be and my message should be very clear about what I want, absolutely not true.
Darryl Praill: So, I wanna drill down on that for a second. Cause if I don’t have a call to action, how do I progress? Because we’re always supposed to move for a continuance or the next stage. So if I don’t have a call to action, how do I do then… Would I be fair in saying, a marketer’s job, we’re efficient and that’s the worm, that’s the hook, the call to action? Download this paper, spend time with me, that’s the bait so we can, we can get a nibble. I always view sales as especially starts with the SDR is their job is to not… We did that marketing did that! Your job is to start, I just say, help me understand your business, what pains are you having? This way I see where people buy you.
Jeff Molander: Right, not trying to push you into anything, just trying to have an assessment go on here. Yeah, right.
Darryl Praill: Cause I think but if I talk to my spouse or my kids or my friend and they said, I say, how you doing? Oh, what’s the matter? And then you start having co… You ask some probing questions, and then you go down a thread because it’s human to human.
Jeff Molander: Right.
Darryl Praill: So I actually fully agree with you that marketers do the call to action but not sales. Sales should be doing discovery, should doing qualifications, should be establishing a relationship and asking those probing questions and I agree with you. Okay, so no call to action, mind-blowing right away your mind there has changed where it’s going? What the hell do I do with this now? Okay, what about the tone? How about the use of persuasion?
Jeff Molander: The persuasive tone is all over the place, just using adjectives and adverbs. It’s clear, people always say to me, what do I write to try to persuade? I need them to have a meeting with me, I need to build trust with them, I need to be, appear credible. So what we do is we start talking about our customers, we start talking about our solution. We start talking about our Gartner, Gartner says this about us, so we brag about ourselves, we try to so it’s like, think about going out on a first date for the very first time with someone who’s sitting there trying to persuade you. Because that’s what it is, that’s what an SDRs job is, is to go on a first date.
Jeff Molander: Right so, here’s, what’s in it for you, I’m gonna be crystal clear about what’s in it for you, you’re not gonna have any opportunity to become curious about me. I’m gonna tell you, and I’m gonna tell you. I’m gonna go through this, what do they call it, AIDA. This attention, create interest and then desire, and then the call to action, right? I’m gonna run you through this process, that’s exactly what SDRs are doing in their emails. If you look at them and you analyze them, which is what we do, that’s what we’re doing, and that’s what we’ve been told to do, and whether it was predictable revenue or whoever, this is the course that we’ve been running on, which is a very templated, canned, persuasive, and there’s a whole belief system, I have to earn their trust, I have to appear credible, I have to persuade them, I have to be very clear, and what I’m telling you is you don’t have to listen to me, you don’t.
Jeff Molander: But if you’re wondering about what the better way to get someone’s attention, spark their curiosity, that’s the key, and earn that response. I can tell you that we’ve got thousands of customers all over the planet that do this, that throw away this marketing mentality and start saying, “Okay, Molander, what do I do?” Well in a nutshell, spark their curiosity, and there’s different ways to go about doing that. But the first thing we’ve got to do is stop talking to them like a marketer and stop persuading them where the call to action Darryl, to your point earlier, if it’s not a call to action, what the hell is it? It’s sparking their curiosity and the call to action, making a statement, and you just leave them hanging and the call to action is a provocation, or you’ve provoked them to look at something and go I don’t understand exactly what you’re getting at, but that sounds really important. Can you take me a little bit further into that? I might be interested in talking to you. So those are the types of reactions that a salesperson should be going for, from cold of course. Or even an existing relationship that you’re going back to, to get a referral or something like that.
Darryl Praill: So I love what you’re saying here, the whole point of sales is to me, you’re the trusted advisor, you have something that I probably want, and you shouldn’t have to do a hack to get my interest. You should educate and inform, ask some probing questions, inquire about me and my company and my goals and objectives, and if there’s a fit there fantastic, and if there’s not move on. You’re right, you’re not marketing, full-stop, but you do need marketing for all those inbound leads, so you each have a role. And I wanna be clear about that cause too many of you sales reps thinking that you’re the cat’s meow marketing’s just a bunch of hacks. The reason marketing gets cut in downturn is cause they’ve got programs to spend, people are choosing, companies are choosing to not cut people, staff salaries, and they have a perception.
Darryl Praill: The sales drives revenue, marketers would argue with that, that’s another podcast episode, we won’t go into that one, but if marketing’s got a million-dollar campaign program budget spend, and I can cut that in half, I just saved $500,000, which means we as employees get to keep our jobs longer, and that’s why that happens. So you wanna make sure you’re not a commodity, you wanna make sure the best way to do that is to own the relationship to be that trusted advisor. If you wanna become an AE, everything Jeff just said there is gold. Jeff, what you’ve done here is you’ve provoked, now everybody’s left hanging, I know they’re left hanging, they wanna know more. You shared you have an online community? If I wanna learn more about the community so I can continue understanding what you’re getting at here and I can not be a marketer, but I can be a trusted advisor. Tell me about the community, what’s the web address? How can I learn more?
Jeff Molander: Yup, simple web address and is free to join the community although you are actually not allowed into our forum, which is a paid opportunity, but you are a part of the community at bronze, it’s a bronze, silver, gold type of membership. And at bronze it’s free, and you’ve got some really outstanding lessons available to you to teach you how to spark their curiosity. So it’s not just us talking theory here. So that’s it JoinSparkAcademy.com. Just go there and you’ll see the different bronze, silver, gold levels. But the important thing to remember here is that human beings value more what they ask for and they value less what you offer to them. That’s the whole construct that’s going on in outbound, is we’re asking. What if we didn’t ask? What if we actually did something to spark their curiosity to make them want to ask? Just reverse it.
Darryl Praill: Okay, that’s Jeff Molander, he’s a pretty smart guy. I told you he was intelligent, he had the intellectual about him. He’s just rocked your world, you know where to go check it out you’ll know more. Follow him on LinkedIn, follow him on all the social channels. That wraps another week, Jeff, thank you for joining us. My friends, we made it, we made it. Will I see you again next week? I hope so. My name is Darryl Praill. We’ll talk to you soon. Take care, bye-bye.