John Barrows wasn’t born a “great sales trainer”. The skills he teaches and the processes he implements into sales teams have an origin. Early on in his entrepreneurship, John attended many sales training sessions from several organizations.
One that stood out was BASHO. John would later join the team at BASHO and begin learning from a practitioner that held his attention better than anyone ever could, Jeff Hoffman.
He and Jeff would become great friends in the years to come, and John went on to create JB Sales. Today, Jeff and John lead the charge when it comes to both the science of sales and the art of prospecting.
Here are some of the best takeaways from the webinar “John Goes Back to School: Rediscovering the “Art” of Prospecting“.
#1 Buyer Adjacent
In many cases, the conversation of top up or bottom down is a point of disagreement amongst sales leaders. Which is the best approach has a lot to do with variables. Some of which we can control, and others we cannot. As they dug into this debate, Jeff asserts that going to the buyer directly can sometimes be challenging. “They just want to sell me something” is often the perspective of a cold prospect. That’s why Jeff’s recommendation is to shoot for someone that is “adjacent to your buyer”. This way, the conversation can be transitioned to a warm intro from someone internal who is trusted by the prospect/decision maker who most often is not one and the same anyway. We sell to one persona, but the signature comes from another. Having warm intros from inside the organization is often a great way to bridge this gap.
Hoffman claims that curiosity can be developed and taught. He believes “the shortcut to curiosity is not knowing something. Wanting to know is at a greater level than not knowing.” This means that genuine curiosity on the part of the seller has to be obvious to the prospect. The goal is to get you buyer (or someone adjacent to the buyer) to educate you so that your new knowledge can be addressed in the conversations with personas that are above the power line. We must teach and/or hire reps that possess this authentic curiosity. Our prospects will appreciate the need for knowledge and respond more favorably more often.
#3 Value Proposition Positioning
When researching a new prospect, we often run across content we would love to use as context for outreach. However, more often than not, the content we want to use is older content. For some reason or another, we feel reluctant to share this content and leverage it because we think that it may no longer be relevant. Jeff explains that the reluctance we feel is more of a “call to action problem” rather than a contextual one. Our call to action (CTA) has to be relating back to a problem described in the content. That doesn’t mean it has to be yesterday’s content. If that problem still exists, there’s a good chance your conversation is still just as relevant or timely as ever.
#4 Social Value
John and Jeff both agree and disagree on what social value means. Decision makers may be more powerful than the seller.That’s typically the case. They could even have more influence. However, the seller is often “more popular” when there is high social value. Jeff has a valid point in that salespeople have a lot of prospects and this one CEO or Executive is “not the only ornament on his Christmas tree”. The social value aspect that impacts our conversations, reply rates, and ultimately our overall success, hinges 100% on how we represent ourselves both in the space, and one on one with our prospects and clients.
#5 Your 2nd & 3rd Emails
Hoffman’s view on this is astoundingly simple. He’s got a great story around selling to Caterpillar, and the twist (spoiler alert) is that he never even mentioned who he was working for at the time he made it happen. Amazing! The divide and conquer mentality is what Jeff lands on. Find and document five talking points in advance so that you have them easily accessible and can customize messaging accordingly. Don’t use your best ones first. That’s the temptation. Use them in email or message #2 or #3 because we know it takes multiple touches to make an impact.
Even the most versed and tenured sales professionals aren’t foolish enough to think they know everything. We’re all creatures destined to improve or fail over time depending on how fast we learn new skills and techniques.
Sales is all about the lessons we have learned through our journey. They shape the level of impact we have on prospects and customers. John’s mentor and friend, Jeff Hoffman are examples of what a lifetime of experience and constant learning can do for your professional growth. Between them, John and Jeff have over 50 years of lessons learned that they’re delivering to us in this candid conversation.
You can watch the webinar recording here. After you register, you’ll be enrolled into a 5 week email series sharing some of the best clips from the session, we’ll share 1 clip per week with you. You can unsubscribe from the series at any time, of course.