Podcast

The $3 Million Dollar Bus Ride – Ashley Welch

“Your deal gets won or lost in discovery,” says Ashley Welsh, Somersault Innovation and co-author of the book Naked Sales. In this energizing interview with host Christopher Smith, Ashley talks about Somersault Innovation’s approach to sales — which is all about co-creating, collaborating, empathizing, and curiosity. 

Ashley’s training is definitely not your standard sales approach. She believes wholeheartedly that story-telling and empathy are the roots of a good sales relationship, and that you need to embrace vulnerability to find success. She tells the story of a $3 million bus ride that one of her clients took in order to understand the real pain points of Greyhound drivers. Going out and experiencing a product is, for Ashley, the best way to prove to a customer that you understand them — and what their customers need, too. 

Tune in to hear about an uncommon approach to selling that centers our humanity; and some amazing success stories that prove it really works. 

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Transcript:

Fri, 3/5 12:55PM • 48:27 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS 
customer, sellers, sachin, discovery, sales, talk, crm, sell, somersault, book, story, account, design, people, empathy, bit, create, connect, sales manager, executive 

SPEAKERS 
Ashley Welch, Christopher Smith 

Intro 
Welcome to the Sales Lead Dog Podcast hosted by CRM technology and sales process expert Christopher Smith, talking with sales leaders that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Listen to find out how the best of the best achieve success with their team and CRM technology. And remember, unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. 

Christopher Smith   
Welcome to Sales Lead Dog. Today we have joining us Ashley Welch of Somersault Innovation, and co-author of “Naked Sales,” welcome to Sales Lead Dog. 

Ashley Welch   
Thank you so much. 

Christopher Smith   
I’m really excited to have you on the show. I love Naked Sales, I think it’s an incredible book. It’s, we’re using it in our company. I think it’s amazing, tell our listeners about the $3 million bus ride. 

Ashley Welch   
Alright, cracks me up still, the title of the book and hearing you say it. So the $3 million bus ride was the Greyhound bus you read about, it’s the first chapter of the book, and we were working with Salesforce at the time, and Sachin Rye was an account executive executive, still is, at Salesforce, and he had been prospecting Greyhound trying to get in there, trying to build a relationship and had not been able to get in. So he started working with us and our program, Sell by Design, and we said Sachin stop selling. Just go have an experience of Greyhound. So we went down to the San Francisco depot, where the buses were, and he sort of used his best discovery skills and he watched people going in and on, on and off the bus, he talked to baggage handlers. He then went all in, he was like the extreme use case here, he went all in and he took a bus from San Francisco to LA and back again. And, of course, had more experience in that ride. And one of the things he learned about was the M7 report, which is a report, sort of a very inefficient report that the drivers have to use to capture what’s working or not working on the bus and then sort of a form that they send in and things supposedly get fixed, fixed from that. And he realized in talking to them that it was actually quite frustrating for the drivers, because they didn’t trust that this actually worked that well. Anyway, came back from his experience, he started to email executives again at Greyhound, and instead of saying anything about Salesforce he just said, “I’d love to talk to you about my experience on Greyhound,” said he got an 100% open rate on all these emails, because of course he was talking about their brand, not his. And finally got another meeting with an executive and in that conversation with the executive said, “Hey, I understand the M7 report could stand a little innovation,” and the executive was blown away that he even knew what an M7 report was and furthermore that Sachin could talk about the frustration that the drivers felt around the report itself. So, he was able to talk the language of the executive, the executive sort of moved in and completely engaged. Long story short, this went from a zero to a $3 million global account over the next year, starting from this level of discovery that Sachin did with Greyhound. 

Christopher Smith   
And discovery is the first phase of Sell by Design, can you tell us about, let’s talk about discovery. 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, we spend, I would say two thirds of our work in the Sell by Design program is really honing in on discovery, because I think you know your deal gets made won or lost in your ability to do great discovery. And I think we hear a lot from the marketplace right now that people don’t spend long enough in discovery. They don’t, either they don’t know how to do it well, or there’s the pressure sort of move on and close the deal, so they don’t stay in discovery. So there’s a lot, you know, the underpinning that we would say in discovery is curiosity, you know, like just staying open and curious about your customer and not getting narrow-minded on just trying to find the problem that your solution solves. And, and the other thing we talked about in discovery is this idea of you are becoming a problem-finder not just a problem-solver like you’re looking for more problems that may even be outside the range of what you can solve for, because if you can understand the whole landscape of your customer and their customers, then you put yourself in the position of trusted advisor and you could be much more consultative in talking to them. 

Christopher Smith   
Right. And you mentioned in the book it’s really about. It’s not becoming a seller, it’s becoming a partner. 

Ashley Welch   
Exactly, yeah, getting side by side, we always, I love this woman Amanda who works at sales a lot talks about this idea of getting side by side, on the same side of the table with your customer, and I love that. That’s exactly what we’re teaching. 

Christopher Smith   
Right, right, it’s, it’s incredible. One of the things you talked about in the book in, in discovery was the uncomfortable silence. Can you talk about that a little bit? 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, I think. And this is actually playing in the digital space as well, so I’ll talk about both of them. I think this idea that we, you know, even in our lives, not just in sales, right, like we we move to fill the silence right, it makes us uncomfortable a little bit. And yet, if you wait a lot of times, let the other person fill that silence and give you more information, number one and number two, when we move in and sort of to stop the silence and move us on, we miss what might have come out of our customer’s mouth when they would tell us more. And the same actually showing up in digital, the use of digital whiteboards. So, you know, we’re all virtual now and so we’ve been working a lot with sellers and how to use digital whiteboards to co-create and collaborate with their customers. And I love what a gentleman at SAP said. He said, “The value of the whiteboard is just the white space itself, because when there’s that whitespace the customer feels like they should fill it in and offer more information,” so you gather information by creating that space. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, I love that. And the, you mentioned co-creation there. Could you break that down a little bit about what that means, what is co-creation all about? 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, so co-creation is just what it sounds like. Let’s create this together. And as our world becomes more and more complex, like daily right, and especially when you’re selling complex tech solutions or other solutions that may be complex, I think the notion that we believe a lot is that you don’t have the answer by yourself, and you, my customer don’t have the answer either. And it’s really the inspiration for how to solve it, it’s going to come from us working together and sort of co-creating the solution together in service of whatever we’re trying to solve. And when we do that, it’s a much stickier solution, because I’ve caused you, my customer, to have your fingerprints all over what we have co-created together. And so we’re gonna have more likely set up for a much more, much longer relationship. 

Christopher Smith   
And you’re building that yes I think by going through that process, because when you get to that, that point where you’re asking for that sale, how are they going to say no to something that they helped design? 

Ashley Welch   
Exactly, exactly. And I think what gets in our way of co-creation is maybe many things, but one thing that we get in the way of is like, well I have the solution, I’m running my play, you’re an insurance firm, I have my play for my insurance vertical, and I’m just gonna run it, right and you may not know enough or care enough, or whatever it might be, that you get that involved and you say yes because it sort of solves what you’re looking for. We didn’t co-create that at all, and you become, you know, you become more competitor-proof the more that you co-create and collaborate with your customers. 

Christopher Smith   
Right, right. I love that. And you actually mentioned that when you’re telling the story in the book about the $3 million sale about Sachin, you know, sitting on the bus thinking about what’s that end solution going to look like?  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah.  

Christopher Smith   
Could you elaborate on that part?  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, well he. I mean, Sachin is a very smart guy, and very successful. And so this surprises me, and this just tells me that, like, a lot of us do this unconsciously, that we’ve already come up with the solution, right, for our client without even talking to them. I don’t understand this idea of running a play when you haven’t even talked to your client. So it’s the same idea with Sachin, he had already come up with and even got his solution engineers to work on an app for the drivers, right, that he, I don’t know what the app was going to do, but of course it was gonna be something fabulous for the drivers. And when he got in there, he found out that the drivers couldn’t use an app because of course they couldn’t use their phone while they’re driving, so it’s just a great example of how we get ahead of ourselves and formulate, and then, by doing that, we literally miss disconfirming evidence, because all we’re looking for is to sell this thing that I’ve already now created, either physically or in my mind for you. 

Christopher Smith   
Right. So it’s really, it’s all about stripping off like the blinders or that driving focus that we have to close the deal, and opening ourselves up as you’re saying and getting on the same side with our customer so that we’re truly aligned with them. 

Ashley Welch   
And just being genuinely curious about them and their business as if you didn’t know anything or didn’t have a horse in the race. 

Christopher Smith   
Right. And one of the keys to that you mention in the book is really understanding the clients’ customers.  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah.  

Christopher Smith   
Can you talk about that for a little bit? 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, we talked a lot about this idea of understanding your customer’s customer, and it does tend to be one of the tools or sort of mental models that adds the most value to sellers, and the idea is if I can talk to you about what your customers care about, then I’m starting to add value, number one, to what you care about, right. You’re much more interested in what your customers care about and think about you than you are about what I’m selling.  

Christopher Smith   
Right.  

Ashley Welch   
And I can also, and it’s very, you know, it’s just like Sachin, like he was able to talk about the Greyhound customers and his experience as a customer, the executives wanted to hear that. There’s another great story I’ll just tell about a woman who was working with Hallmark, and she had done this discovery, and she when she got into the room would present to executives, she just started out by with pictures and talking about them, and she’s like, let me tell you about my experience in your store and with your app, and talked all about them and then she went to sit down and they said, “Don’t sit down. Tell us more, like what. What else did you learn about us?” Right. And so, we talk a lot about this idea of when you’re first going after a customer or you’re trying to expand your footprint in a system to just draw out like, okay, who’s your customer, and then who are their different customer sets, and then who do those different customer sets interact with within your customer system. And then you can start to see the landscape, it’s like doing a, it’s like being an artist, you start to see all those little pieces, and then you can say well, where would it be interesting to find out some information? Like if I could learn more about this customer set, and what they care about, would that be interesting to my customer? And you start to see things, and very differently when you start to think about it in that way, or think about the interaction. Let’s say you sell something online, and I can talk to the customer service rep and the call center who manages that relationship with people buying things online or returning things they’ve bought online, let’s say, and I can figure out a little bit more about how is that interaction working or not working, and then sharing that information further up in my customer organization, because so often at the top of a customer organization, you know, any of us getting higher up in leadership, we become more and more disconnected from what’s going on, actually with our customers. 

Christopher Smith   
And you talk about the power of storytelling in this process.  

Ashley Welch   
Yep.  

Christopher Smith   
Can you tell us a story about storytelling? 

Ashley Welch   
A story about storytelling. Well ,I don’t know if I have a story about storytelling, but I can tell you about the power of story. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, tell us about the power. 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, so you know, we’re wired for stories, you know, that’s, like, when we were drawing on the side of the cave, those were images that told a story, and, and we pass information along via stories. So our brain is literally wired for stories. When we tell stories it connects us, and it causes greater collaboration between us, literally. So, you know, we talk a lot to sellers about okay, one you want to tell stories. And in order to make it accessible for you to tell a simple, powerful story, we talk about sort of three things. Give it detail, like Sachin Ray, he was at San Fran, in San Francisco, you know, give me details, make him real. Give me a character, include emotion, you know the drivers are really frustrated, like because we connect to emotion. And then, you know, fill it out with some, some insight about what they learned, and you know and, and then we talk about a story arc, you know you probably want to have some kind of struggle in there and some kind of resolution. But what we’re encouraging sellers not to do is think that they have to have a TED talk prepared and that they have to have sort of a very structured story. The more natural you can be, obviously the better. So I always think stories are very powerful in trying to share an idea. 

Christopher Smith   
Yep. And you talk about it being a two-person dance when you’re telling that story too, to really engage and pull people in. And what I liked about it, what really resonated with me when I was reading the book and how we use it is when you tell a story, you said, it really, it changes everything. I’m not pitching product features or things that people are tuning out or maybe not really connecting with, but when you tell a story, it really does. It’s two people talking and sharing with each other. 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah.  

Christopher Smith   
And bond. That’s what I love about that. The next phase of Sell by Design is insight. And the big part or the focus of that is empathy. Let’s talk about empathy.  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah. When we started Somersault Innovation, we wanted to talk a lot about empathy and vulnerability and sales, and we got some coaching that was like, “No you don’t, don’t talk about that stuff, we do not talk about that in sales.” So I appreciate you raising it, we still talk about it but we might have de-emphasized it a little bit. You know, again it’s like we are wired as empathic beings to connect with one each other, one another, and we mirror each other, even, right like if you started feeling nervous or happy, like it’s very hard not to smile if someone else just smiles. Those, those are mirror neuron neurons and. And so we’re wired really to feel for the other person but one, so it’s so important to be empathetic and empathize with your customer. But one of the twists, and this is the power of design, is really all about the how do you do something. In empathy, we talk about this idea, it’s not good enough for me just to empathize with you, I need to show you that I am. So I need to say something back to you like, “Oh, it sounds like this is frustrating for you,” you know, “Can you tell me more?” Because that gives you a clue that I am feeling, or I can sense how you’re feeling. So, you know, I think what we are suggesting to sellers is really to connect with empathy and to empathize, not only with their customer, but their customer’s customer and how they feel. And when they, as a seller when you do that, legitimately or authentically, you care, you actually do care. And so you actually want to solve this problem and I’m much more interested in this because of you, and help trying to help you. And that goes a long way. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, and I think that’s when you, when you’re able to do that, I think, from the buyer side, you’re now shifted from almost an opposite, you know, buyer seller is almost like an oppositional type relationship, but once you get that through the empathy barrier and you’re showing now, hey, I’m on your side, it’s, it’s like you’re working together you’re working as a salesperson working for the customer. 

Ashley Welch   
Totally. You just made me think I was, um, I’m trying to, I’m like dying to go somewhere right because of COVID, so I was looking at this retreat center in Florida, and this woman, and it’s sort of like this package deal. And this woman was talking to me about like what’s included, and she was literally reading off a script, which I understood why because it was there was some complexity to it, but I thought like, you’re not even connecting with me, like, so by reading your script for running your play in sales, it disconnects us, and right, and then we feel that. Like I felt that, and I felt like I don’t even want to go here because you’re not talking to me, you’re just reading your script. You’re not empathizing with who I am and what I want. 

Christopher Smith   
Just think about how different that experience could have been like.  

Ashley Welch   
Totally.  

Christopher Smith   
Doesn’t this, everyone’s just aren’t you just dying to get out of the house and just be somewhere, and just be someplace, different from home? 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, you know, just tell me about like what’s your aspiration. It totally would have sucked me in, yes. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, exactly. Why is it hard for salespeople to show empathy?  

Ashley Welch   
Hmm. Um, well I would add to that, I think it’s hard for salespeople, you know not all salespeople, but some I think it’s hard for us to show empathy and curiosity, combine those, because a couple things. I think money, I think money corrupts us all, right, so when money’s on the table for if I close this deal on making 10 grand, 50 grand, 100 grand, whatever, it corrupts us. I am now completely focused on that money that I’m going to get, and I become less curious, neurologically less curious. I think the pressure of sales, the pressure to meet a number, the pressure of a boss breathing down your neck saying you owe 50k, I don’t care how you get it, again limits us and actually sort of squeezes the curiosity and empathy out of us in a really very real way, that is doing the, the opposite of what the manager wants, which is for you to grow an account. And it, it actually narrows our ability to grow. 

Christopher Smith   
And then the other part of that is, is to connect with someone you and truly connect, you have to be vulnerable and show a bit of yourself. 

Ashley Welch   
Yes. 

Christopher Smith   
That’s hard for people, or some people. 

Ashley Welch   
Yes. I agree, well what what’s like vulnerable to you in sales? 

Christopher Smith   
You know, for me, I always feel like I’m a bit of an imposter in sales that, like, I’m not really a sales guy. And so, and I actually I hate selling. And so my natural thing is to, is to always come in from a position of what can I do to really help these people, because I’m good at that. I’m really good at helping people solve whatever problems or pain points they’re having with their business. But I hate selling, you know, so, for me, my struggle is always to go in and transition from okay I’m helping you but now I actually have to close this deal. You know, and that’s always been my struggle. 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah. I understand, you know it is why we, I think sales actually is a very interesting persona because of that vulnerability piece. Because we have a number on our head often that everybody sees, and you know if I’m making it or not making it. So there’s this dichotomy a little bit like I have to have this pretty tough skin to get rejected, often, or have everybody know whether I’m making my number or not. And at the same time, I’m extremely vulnerable because of that, so I have to be able to sort of hold that tension. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah. You know, it’s funny I will constantly, we’re not, but ever on a regular basis I will see people posting on forums or whatever that they’re asking for help, I have this problem, I need help, can someone help me. And when I reached out to them, I, you know, because I’m like truly, I want to help you. Trust me, I’m not trying to sell you. We’re so conditioned that oh my god, he’s gonna try to sell me something, stay, stay away. What, what is that, how do you overcome that in a sales process? 

Ashley Welch   
Ah, you know what, it’s funny you say that cause I had another example. It was yesterday, a guy who’s, you know, phone call came in and it was, I don’t know why I answered it, because like any of us, we don’t usually answer it if it’s a number you don’t recognize but, and it was Save the Children, right, and I had given money before, and I guess my credit card expired and so they were saying basically would I want to give again. And I was kind of like, is this Save the Children like, like, is this the real deal? And then finally, okay, I believe you, like let’s do this and then I got to the credit card part and I was like wait a minute, is this a scam? I was so skeptical, and he was like Jesus lady. 

Christopher Smith   
What do I have to do? 

Ashley Welch   
And I think partly like our environment, right now, like there’s so much, right, there’s so much credit risk and so many things that we. So, and I guess maybe why people feel that way, you know, I think historically sales hasn’t been a side by side adventure, right. It has been a lot like I’m trying to convince you to buy something from me, and I might be a little sleazy and trying to get it from you again I think it’s because there’s money, there’s a transaction of money and I really think money corrupts us. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh no, I think it does too. It really does and, and it makes it hard. Can we talk a little bit about the anti-pitch? 

Ashley Welch   
Yes. So the anti-pitch. That term came from our sort of partner and friend of mine, Stuart Papp, who has his own company, Pitch DNA, he’s awesome. And this idea that we shouldn’t be pitching, actually. It shouldn’t be one-way, it should be two-way, right. I should be offering you an idea and inviting your feedback, because the same idea we talked about earlier, the more you have your fingerprints on it and the more we collaborate in what we create, the more ownership you’re going to have. So we’re always encouraging sellers to, whether let’s say it’s a demo, they’re giving a demo, use the demo actually as part of your discovery, so it’s not your pitch, it’s just an offering to say, hey I’ll show you this, but I’d love your feedback. And to the point where you’re at the end of, you know, if you’ve co-created with your customer, there is no pitch at the end, right, you’re saying “Okay, so is this what we agreed to?” So I think it’s a little bit it’s just the mindset too, like I’m never gonna pitch. I’m always gonna collaborate. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah. And that’s what I love to me. That was one of the transformational things for me, because I’ve never really liked doing demos, because it’s all about the product and look at this cool feature and this bell and whistle, isn’t it great. And I love, it’s much more natural for me to say, “Let me show you this and then tell me if you think this can help you.” You know, or, “How can, will this impact the problem you were telling me about, you know, what are your thoughts on that.” It changes everything.  

Ashley Welch   
It does change everything, and I, you know a lot of times customers will say like, “Look, I’ve done all my research right.” We know that, right, all this information is available. “I know what I want. Just show me the demo,” right. So, we certainly would not say, don’t do that. Right. But, tee it up as “Okay I will show you the demo, but I would like to use this as an opportunity to be getting your feedback along the way.” And sort of reorient the conversation. 

Christopher Smith   
Exactly. I love that. Let’s talk about, you know, if I’m a sales leader, how should I be using Sell by Design? 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah. Well, you definitely should buy the book for all your sellers. 

Christopher Smith   
Start there. 

Ashley Welch   
So, you know, I think the, we were just talking about this today, actually, this notion of using some of the skills as your, as a leader, with your sellers like do your own discovery with them stay curious and open as to what they’re learning. I think, don’t lead with numbers, lead with stories. So as a manager or leader, we’re always suggesting like, you know, Christopher, can you tell me a story about your customer, right, to the extent that you can tell me a story about what your customer and what your customer cares about or your customer’s customer, it gives me a really good insight into like, do you really know your customer, are you doing discovery? 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah. 

Ashley Welch   
And by not leading with the number, because as soon as I start leading with the number, like what’s your number for the week, you know you told me you would get 100,000 by Friday, where is it? Like I again, I just narrowly focus you on that and not, I’m, what I want to be doing is trying to open you up to stay more curious about your customer. So those are a couple things that come to mind. 

Christopher Smith   
Yep. And as the sales manager, you know, I’m lower-level down, I’m much more closer, or not much, more but I’m closer to the frontline salespeople. How should I be using Sell by Design?  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, I was just working with a group at Steelcase actually with the manager and their, his colleagues, the sellers, and we did a customer’s customer map, right, so we just drew one out. So I think that’s a great thing as a manager with your team or with your one seller, let’s say, to say hey, let’s map this out together, you know, tell me about your customer, who are the different customer sets of theirs, and let’s draw this together. And then like have that dialogue around well, where could you do discovery around something you don’t know that might be valuable to your customer and, sort of, you know, collaborate with them in creating that discovery plan as well. 

Christopher Smith   
And you’re also, it’s funny the way, when I read that it, now instead of again being oppositional, now the sales manager’s alongside the sales team. He’s part, I’m here to help you. We’re gonna have learning opportunities up by listening to your stories, I’m a find, I’m gonna get insight into oh have you tried this, or you know I tried this once with a client and it worked great. It was tremendous. 

Ashley Welch   
That’s right. You know the other thing I’ll say is that you just made me think of is like encouraging your sellers to share stories, right. I think of stories is much more useful than use cases. Like use cases tend to be very generic. This is what, you know this was our client, this was their problem, this was the solution. And it’s hard to make those feel real. If I’m telling you a use case, like it sounds like an use case to you too, versus I learned from my colleague about how they worked in our company, worked in that system, you know, they tell me the story about it and who was the person in the procurement, you know, Jenny, and anything about her that’s interesting. And then I can retell that story much more easily. That’s much more interesting to a customer than your sterile use case. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh yeah, yeah, or feature list or any of that. I’m like, okay, whatever. 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah. 

Christopher Smith   
So, I get the book. I’m excited about it. How should I start? 

Ashley Welch   
Are you a manager, or are you an AE? 

Christopher Smith   
Let’s talk both. Let’s break it down. I’m gonna start, let’s start as a manager, how should I start with Sell by Design. 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, I mean like I said, I mean I’m being a little facetious but I, the book as you know is very short, it’s very practical, it’s got hands on tools. So I would, you know, have some of your sellers read it, and then start by saying, “Okay, let’s just start with discovery, like what’s, what are some tips and tools you’ve pulled out of this that you could use with your customers, let’s talk about insights, let’s talk about acceleration.” All you know the brilliance of design thinking, which is the sort of methodology we’re pulling from in order to support sellers, is the practicality, the simplicity and practicality that creates a powerful moment or impact. Um, so I think as a manager, you know, looking through that book, for example, and just pulling out the three tools that you think will make a difference and then talking to your sellers about them. 

Christopher Smith   
Right. It’s also very complimentary to other techniques or methods they might be using. 

Ashley Welch   
Yes. Yes, for sure. I mean, I’m sure there are some, it’s not, like this is a very collaborative consultative approach. I mean if that’s not your bag, then this is not for you, but it is meant to overlay on any kind of sales process that an organization may have. It’s not meant to replace, so it’s like giving sellers, a new, you know, more tools in their toolkit to be effective. 

Christopher Smith   
So if I’m a sales leader, if I’m at the top of the pyramid, how should I start with my sales managers? 

Ashley Welch   
Hmm. Yeah. Well, I always think start small, right. Start small and then start to move faster from there. So I think I would just, you know, encourage them. One is just encourage stories for example, encourage your managers to be asking for stories. Just that little shift is very different. I think the other thing is, you know, all throughout our work and and what we’re pulling from the world of design is this notion of customer centricity, right. Like at the end of the day, every lens you look through should be through the lens of thinking about what does my customer care about first, and then, you know, does this make business sense for us. And that’s, we talk about the idea of desirability a lot, meaning what does the customer and their customers care about. That should be your North Star. And so I think as, I mean if I was the sales leader, that’s the mindset that I would be encouraging. So any sort of thing that we were discussing any new policy, compensation, whatever it is that I’m talking to my managers, I’m going to have that lens of like okay, is this really customer-centric or is it me and us-centric, and let’s, if it’s not customer centric, we need to reorient how we’re talking about this. I mean that really comes in with compensation plans for example and that would be a leadership issue. Like, if you’re telling us to be customer-centric and consultative, but you’re, you know you’re bonusing me or spiffing me on just a product sale, this happens of course across the board all the time, what’s, the behavior you’re going to get as a seller is, I’m going to push this product. Right. So, it’s not a customer-centric motion. So this idea of how do you align your systems and structures in support of being customer-centric, because I think it’s a really important conversation.  

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, and you give an example in the book about at a sales meeting, the top guy just said, “Hey, you know what, we’re doing this and to show you I’m serious about it, we’re waiving quota for the next three months.” 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, well we’re not waving but I’ll take off the gas. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, he’s like, that the focus isn’t on quota. It’s you know, he wanted them focused on customer.  

Ashley Welch   
Yes.  

Christopher Smith   
And that, I think, you know, that’s a big way to start but it’s a very clear way to your team that says hey, we’re serious about this. 

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, because these are new behaviors. Some of these are new behaviors and you want to encourage like the use of new behaviors, maybe not across the board, but I think one of the ways we’ve been so successful at driving revenue in and pipeline gen in accounts is coaching people against the use of the tools against target accounts. So we’ll say just pick one or two accounts, you know, forget about the rest, just do your regular thing. For these one or two accounts, we want you to try something new on and see what happens.  

Christopher Smith   
I love that. Let’s talk, we have a few minutes left, let’s talk a little bit about CRM and, and sales enablement technology. So if I’m doing Sell by Design, how should I, how should I be leveraging CRM and other technology in support of Sell by Design. 

Ashley Welch   
I don’t know, I don’t have a good answer for you yet. We’re coming in to develop an app that actually sort of integrates with a CRM, so that you can be linking the things that you learn in somebody’s design into your CRM. But I think, so I can’t speak specifically to each CRM and how it links, but I can say that sort of in your account planning that would become in the beginning stages of your account, you have your, you know your process, look, thinking about what kind of discovery is happening and making sure that is captured in the CRM or capturing the insight that you’re learning about your customer that is novel and new, capturing that in the CRM. I think that the sort of where you, capturing information about what your customer and their customers care about is a very different type of information to capture. So, as a sales leader you have to figure out where, you know, what field you’re going to put that in, but I think that information is really important. 

Christopher Smith   
Yeah, to me, I was thinking a lot about that from reading the book and trying to figure out how can I apply that in our business, and to me, it really comes down to having structure, you know, in that discovery phase, you know, and really calling it, this is our discovery phase. We’re starting here. And this is our most important phase so there are certain things that we want to make sure we’re getting done in that, in that phase, and making sure you’re tracking that in your CRM.  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah, exactly like you could track, let’s say you decided like for every customer, I want the salesperson to have sort of a customer’s customers map, like they’ve gone and uploaded. Get that done. So you could have a checklist like that. 

Christopher Smith   
Exactly. And so that’s what I always do, some practical steps for someone. And it doesn’t matter what CRM platform you’re doing, you can track that.  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah.  

Christopher Smith   
And those are the things I think from a practical sense, easy to do, but has a big impact. And then you’re getting that, that, that structure. Doesn’t have to be rigid but you’re creating a framework for your team to really support them. 

Ashley Welch   
Exactly. And I think you’re, you’re creating a framework around these tools that really do make a difference in terms of growing your account. I will say, I mean and you may be to leading this, but you know most people don’t like their CRM, right, and only use it to satisfy someone higher than them because they want to, they want understand pipeline, whatever. And so, I keep thinking about like whatever we do, or suggest, it’s got to be useful for the seller, right? And so, I don’t know, that’s, again, that’s the end user lens of like, okay, well don’t do anything unless the seller actually feels like this is valuable in how I think about my account and, and help me grow. 

Christopher Smith   
I talk about that all the time that as a sales leader, when you’re talking to your team about CRM or really any tool that you’re going to give them to help them sell, you have to have a why that, that resonates with them. It’s no different than if they’re, the salespeople are talking to the customer and that, that why you know why, how is this going to help me. You have to sell it the same way you’re asking them to sell to their customers. 

Ashley Welch   
Totally. I would, I was just building out an account plan template for us at Somersault. And as I was looking online at these different account plans, I’m like, this isn’t useful. I’m not, I’m the owner of Somersault, I don’t need to fill this out, because I will never look at this again and this is not going to help me. So I really didn’t seem like, okay, well what is in an account plan for example that is sort of generative, that gets me excited about completing it, and helps me think differently and will be something I want to go back to. And I don’t know it’s not always an easy, easy answer, 

Christopher Smith   
right, a lot of times I, advice I give to sales leaders is the tool should also provide an opportunity for them to assist, you know, that person that hey, I noticed you’ve got some information there about that client. We had a client that’s very close to or similar to that one three years ago before you came here, and this is what we did and it worked great. But if they’re not capturing that information the CRM, you know a sales manager’s never going to see that, nobody would be able to do that outreach and offer that help.  

Ashley Welch   
Yeah.  

Christopher Smith   
So, yeah, that’s great. Well we are coming up on our time here on Sales Lead Dog. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you. Ashley, if people want to reach out connect with you, learn more about Somersault, and talk more about Sell by Design, what’s the best way for them to connect with you? 

Ashley Welch   
Certainly our website, SomersaultInnovation.com. I’m also on LinkedIn, Ashley Welch, and then my email is [email protected] 

Christopher Smith   
And we’ll have all that information in the show notes, so make sure you check that out if you want to reach out, and I recommend connecting with them, they’re terrific. So thank you again for coming on Sales Lead Dog. 

Ashley Welch   
You are so welcome. I really enjoyed our conversation. 

Outro 
As we end this discussion on Sales Lead Dog, be sure to subscribe to catch all our episodes on social media. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Watch the videos on YouTube, and you can also find our episodes on our website at Empellorcrm.com/salesleaddog. Sales Lead Dog is supported by Empellor CRM, delivering objectively better CRM for business guaranteed. 

Quotes

  • “You are also a problem finder. Not just a problem solver.” 
  • “And the other thing we talked about in discovery is this idea of you are becoming a problem finder not just a problem solver like you’re looking for more problems that may even be outside the range of what you can solve for because if you can understand the whole landscape of your customer and their customers. Then you put yourself in the position of trusted advisor.” (7:33-7:53)

Links

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/awelch1/
Website: https://www.somersaultinnovation.com/

Empellor CRM Website
Empellor CRM LinkedIn

Follow Empellor CRM on LinkedIn: Empellor CRM LinkedIn

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