Steve Benson is the CEO of Badger Mapping, an app that literally helps sales reps solve the Traveling Salesman Problem, one of the canonical hard problems in computer science, and also very important in the real world. While Steve works in mapping and has a degree in geography, he’s got a background in field sales, becoming Google’s top enterprise sales rep in 2009.
Yet he didn’t have a grand plan to combine his love of geography with practical real-world careers.
He started his post-MBA career in sales at IBM, but was only passionate about the software, not the hardware and services. Joining Google and being close to the Google Maps team, he had a lot of geographical thoughts swirling in his head.
How to run a successful sales meeting:
Get in the right headspace before the meeting. Focus on value. Describe the product like you’re describing a vacation. There’s a different sound in your voice than if you’re describing a product that we’re not really excited about.
Have a pre-call before the meeting. Make sure you know the #1 thing your contact wants to get out of the meeting. Set an agenda.
Don’t just drone on about features– talk to the pain and the needs.
You’re not trying to do training– you can do that after the sale.
Wrap up, make sure you’ve covered what the prospect needs, and agree on the next steps. Set aside time to do this.
Flip the script and put your “dinosaur feature” at the beginning.
How to handle price objections (and other objections, including disagreement among your champion’s colleagues) proactively. (Also see Terry Hansen’s episode on objection prevention and handling.)
Steve enjoyed some 2015 Smoking Loon cabernet sauvignon.
I had some 2014 Wind Gap Ni-Pente Pinot Noir.
Where to find Steve…
Badger Maps— if you spend your day driving all over the place to meet prospect, partners, and clients, mention this podcast to get 2 months free.
I got to know Sean (and his cohost, Jonathan Taylor) when I joined them on their Persuasion by the Pint podcast.
Since we are clearly kindred spirits when it comes to podcasting, and Sean happened to be visiting Austin and I hadn’t really done an episode about copywriting, we got together to give you some great stories and practical tips on writing copy, which I know is a tough challenge for a lot of people.
Sean was also a good sport and departed from his usual pint into the wine world.
In this episode, learn:
The amazingly simple way Sean made $250 in high school to buy Christmas presents for his family and girlfriend.
How Sean flunked out of school, joined the military, got a sales job, and made it into the top 30% but could never quite make it to the top.
How he started a business with his dad (“we just about killed each other”) and decided he had to do something else.
How he got down to his last $26, and how what he did with it changed the course of his life.
How he could charge double or triple what his competitors charged.
How to write copy that people actually want to read (and what people usually do instead).
Simple, practical tips that anyone can follow to create great copy, like:
Record your sales calls, transcribe them and tease out the words and phrases your prospects use.
Take a webinar or sales deck and turn each section or slide into an email.
If you have an FAQ section on your website, turn each one into an email. (Or maybe you don’t have an FAQ section, but you do get certain questions frequently.)
“If you were writing for a friend, how would you say it?”
The W.O.R.D. formula for developing copy
Win the reader’s attention.
Orchestrate the reader’s desire.
Determine next action. (Doesn’t have to be a sale– it might even be a “give” instead of an “ask”. You don’t have to get them all the way to the sale all at once. Make their path small, easy steps.)
Much, much more…
Sean is a big beer drinker, but was a good sport. We did an easy drinking California Pinot, the Ampelos 2014 from Santa Rita Hills.
Rick is the VP of Sales and Marketing for National Association of Sales Professionals, so he’s like an uber meta-sales person, but that’s not how he started. He got a summer internship knocking on doors for a painting company. Learn about his journey, and hear Rick’s insights on sales psychology, including:
Why you’re a sales professional if you’re a business owner.
What he learned his first day doing door-to-door sales as an introvert, and how you can use it when dealing with your own inner psychology.
How Rick became the #1 sales rep for a Cisco integrator, outselling many people who had been there long before him.
How much time to give yourself to do research before a call.
How information gets conveyed (55% body language, 38% tone, 7% words). This is why talking on the phone loses so much information.
(Check out the show Lie to Me for more on how body language reveals a lot about us.)
The importance of finding mentors, and why it’s not as hard as you think.
Pre-framing (don’t just punt it to the prospect), re-framing (getting back on track), and de-framing (backing out gracefully if there isn’t a fit) are 3 great skills to learn.
Learn to ask questions gently, but persistently.
Sales is not about directing, it’s about aligning and redirecting. (Don’t attack someone, they will put up a wall.)
The one thing Rick would like people to fix: don’t focus on yourself.
Rick brings some innovation to Sales for Nerds by having champagne.
I make a move to Burgundy with Chateau de Santenay Bourgogne Pinot Noir, which is definitely more earthy than the California Pinot I often drink, but still accessible and it doesn’t have the deep earth flavors some people don’t enjoy.
Vanessa Van Edwards is lead investigator at the Science of People—a human behavior research lab. She is the national bestselling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People, which was chosen as one of Apple’s Most Anticipated Books of the year. Her work has been featured on CNN, NPR and Fast Company. She has written columns on the science of success for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post. Vanessa started her study of people as a shy teenager, trying to figure out how people interacted. This turned into a lifelong pursuit. When I read her book, I wanted her to come on the show. Vanessa was kind enough to take time away from her 10 week old daughter to share her story and wisdom. There’s a lot of great stuff in here, including
When to practice your new tactics (and when not to).
One of the few things Reuben did right in college, and how you can apply this technique right now to help you.
Why we subconsciously use defensive body language in work settings, and what we can do about it (another great VVE technique).
Starting a conversation vs “sparking” a conversation.
Why everyone should do 6 months in sales of some kind.
Vanessa’s sales tip– don’t focus on sales, focus on stories.
Don’t hand out your props at the beginning of the meeting.
How to let other people impress you, instead of trying to impress them.
What to say, where to stand, and what to do at networking events.
How to share stories effectively, and how to know if your stories are too long.
How to ask for advice
Bonus: A tip that Vanessa has never mentioned before when people ask if you know someone…
Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster. One of the great works of English literature (so I’m told) with a great motif: “Only connect!”
Other Tools & Resources:
Check out Vanessa’s site Science of People for all kind of goodies on improving your social interactions.
As mentioned, Vanessa had to take a rain check on the wine because she has a newborn that she’s feeding, but in her honor, I got to enjoy something from one of her favorite Oregon wineries, Argyle (it’s the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir). It’s got a bit of fruit and bit of earth, but not whelming, and it’s got more body than a lot of Willamette pinots.
How do you differentiate yourself when your competitors are also experts?
And would you want to take advice on differentiated service from someone who spent over a decade working for a cable company?
It sounds crazy, but in this case, you should.
Michael Katz did in fact spend over a decade at a cable company. But then, through a series of happy accidents, he became Chief Penguin at Blue Penguin Development, helping small services companies market better. He’s also been quoted in the WSJ, the NYT, Business Week Online, Forbes, Inc, USA Today and more. Plus, he’s won an award for humor.
Hear about those happy accidents (well, they seem happy now) and more, including:
How he quit his stable job during the internet boom and failed.
How he accidentally stumbled on a niche and how that turned into a great business.
Why he doesn’t care about SEO or Google ranking.
Michael’s 3 step process for being successful in services (some of this advice may start to sound familiar to regular listeners).
Michael’s “Sports Illustrated” Rule for successful marketing newsletters.
How your marketing is like going to the gym (and Michael saves me a lot of time, right on the show)
How Seth Godin has been stealing his best ideas for years (remember the humor bit)
How being authentically yourself at work and beyond makes life so much easier.
I enjoyed a(nother) glass of 2013 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. A nice, up the middle of the road cab. (It’s pretty expensive on the Franciscan.com site, but you can get it for $15-18.)
Caleb Sidel got a degree from Carnegie Mellon in computer science and mathematics. I don’t know if you can get an nerdier than that. 😉 (He also got a minor in French, which will come into play in a story at the end of the episode where Caleb remembers me not exactly representing Americans well in France.)
Caleb is a partner and co-founder at Strategic Growth Inc, a Salesforce.com implementation partner that has grown rapidly with a core of partners who are responsible for sales and technology. This means a somewhat different approach to sales (and sales training, as they grow the team). Caleb has a long, long list of Salesforce certifications that I won’t bore you with, but he’s deep into Apex code, the Salesforce API, and more.
In this episode, Caleb talks about moving “up the stack”, from implementing features for internal “clients”, to implementing features for external customers, to doing freelance consulting, to co-founding and growing a firm.
Caleb’s tips include:
How to find a niche from a technical perspective. We keep talking about the importance of a niche on this podcast, but what if you don’t know what your real market niche is. Caleb discusses why you can find a niche from the technical side in a way that defines your market niche for you.
Why all the partners at the firm have to sell (and keep up their tech chops).
The importance of passion, not just with your customers, but with your partners.
The really simple way they train their consultants to sell.