~~The Introduction: An Introduction to Introductions or Ken Guest, Elephant Hunting in Ohio—How’s That Work?~~
Ken Guest is a Sandler trainer from Akron, Ohio and at the latest Sandler Summit, Ken did a presentation on the concept of Elephant hunting as a business strategy—this big game version of prospecting can translate to your industry once you have a grounded conceptual understanding of it and he walks us through some of the aspects of how he has managed elephant hunting and how he sees it as a concept.
Elephant hunting is any type of account, which in your specific world as a salesperson, accounts for a lot of money. It’s a dollar amount that makes a significance difference in your year. It may not take more time, it’s just a more scientific approach makes the interaction and relationship easier.
There are two parts to this process. First, we need to have a scientific approach to identify what an elephant is. We need something akin to an account classification system and identify what are all the components that identify our best account and the type of account we should be pursuing. A mixture of subjective and objective statistics may make up the ideal account, but it requires an individual to identify the type of common denominators or threads that compose the mix of the best accounts.
This could be revenue size of the company, number of employees, but once you identify that then you know what your ideal client or prospect looks like. Once you establish who you’ve worked with before, what your best relationships are, and what the components similar are then we can find the commonality that composes them.
One of the best mechanical ways to achieve this can come from asking your clients why they like working with you. When you’re working through the issues that you solve, one question you need to be able to answer is why do your top clients keep working with you—what are those reasons and what do those look like. Compose that and then investigate internal numbers that allow you to calculate more of what you know about your best client and customer.
With larger deals, it may not be possible to contact the top of the organization. With larger industries, you may need to track down the person who might be most willing to open the door for you. Finding out how you can get an introduction is the most productive avenue toward getting a warmer introduction or a sharper hook. The purpose of our strategy is to create and build connections that can facilitate warm introductions that we can leverage to build the correct relationship. We can refer down from the top, but a better approach would be a warm introduction from someone in a decision-making capacity.
We can send our message to people down the connection list so that everyone builds a familiarity with our business as drip on them. One of the strategies for dripping is to build up the referrals we have given out—whether that be credit shown through LinkedIn as affirmations or specific business testimonials for their profiles. The recommendation section can be self serving in that you might talk about the growth they went through once they worked with your organization. This could be a modern day version of a touch point that reciprocates the relationship. That reciprocation may also set you up in a way to ask for a referral in the future. After you’ve given referrals and recommendations then asking for their connections or endorsements can really facilitate a positive response from past relationships.
After you’ve built the specific type of ideal client then you need to work through the Sandler Submarine and decipher and plan the specific areas where your process will integrate behaviors from the submarine to administer and build success..
~~The Conceptual: Building a Relationship with Someone Pressed for Time, or Do CEOs Make Good Friends?~~
Once you’re in front of the right people, how do you close a deal with an ideal client? In most cases if you are doing the background research required to position yourself in a way that enables you to close a deal, you need to already be aiming for meetings with the decision-maker. If we take it for granted that we are already scheduling a meeting with a decision-maker, then for Ken, the most important compartment of the Sandler Submarine at the get-go is the Bonding and Rapport step.
All the principles of psychology we teach come down to one overriding goal which is to gain and maintain an equal business stature. When you’re in front of elephants they’re sizing you up. You have to know how to hold your personal presence that suggests you’ve been there before, you’re comfortable there, and you know your place when in the conversation. The extent to which you go to to ensure that you match and mirror can be as far as calling in to find out what their typical décor is. It may be important to not enter a meeting in a three-piece suit rather than in a pair of jeans simply because you assume it’s what the common attire at the place you’re calling on. The first five minutes and how you carry yourself are incredibly important.
Outcomes must be the first thing that you talk about on your path to an upfront contract. Providing the quick permission to say no is vitally important. Make that the first piece in the conversation—“just because X thought it would be a good idea, doesn’t mean that you think it’s a good idea…”. Being aware of individuals comfort zone on making decisions is an important piece to take advantage of when creating the foundation of the beginning steps of any relationship. Giving the person you call on the authority and the responsibility to make a decision is a very good initial state.
Ken depends on his expectations for setting up a meeting. He makes his appointments without talking about time—when talking to someone with meaningful discourse about training and the execution and the end result it is necessary to have a larger allotment of time. While the time could be cut short if someone is willing to say no, ownership over time allows you as a salesperson to establish and expect equal business stature.
This sort of approach, to someone who knows how to make a decision, is one that creates comfort and builds trust. After the upfront contract it is necessary to rotate the conversation into a pain based agenda. Creating homework for prospects—40 or 50 potential pain based bullet points—is an important piece to facilitate quality conversation because it gives the prospect something to think about while providing you with the information necessary to focus on or not talk about that might be part of your sales strategy.
~~The Specific Applications of Finding Pain, or Youch! Gotcha!~~
Third party stories are the best way to facilitate a prospect walking through the pain-funnel. Once you’ve received their copy of the homework that outlines and details their experience. The key is to never tell someone what you can do for them, it’s to let them know how you’ve helped individuals in similar situations, with similar issues, and if you are able to build a narrative they will be able to put themselves into the story that you’ve told.
Once someone has told you an issue you can build on it and say something like: “You know, that’s funny, I don’t know if it would help your company, but when I worked with company Y they were dealing with the same issues, would you like to know what results we were able to produce for them?” If you are working with another elephant, if you are working with anyone, share the name if you’re allowed to. Showing them the specifics or walking them through the specific questions that you asked in order to facilitate their growth may help your prospect experience the pain they are experiencing in a new way. Once you’ve shared a story the next thing a prospect will want to know is how can you do that for me?
When you’re covering the topic of finding a prospect’s compelling reason to buy you need to do a mixture of telling stories and asking questions. Once I’ve seen what some of their issues are on their homework I need to ask what that really needs. I need to ask very close questions asking them what it means for them to say that their lead generation doesn’t work. It needs to be very clear to you that you understand what the problems are, what the personal impact to those problems are, and what you need to do is help facilitate someone’s ability to discover their compelling reason to change.
Ken doesn’t focus on doing a thorough budget step because he believes that if there is pain they will find the money. If you don’t create the pain then budget will become an issue. Once you create the realization of their pain you can help them facilitate spending the money. If you have already figured out the decision-making step then you should be confident and comfortable that you’ve begun at the decision-maker and don’t need to reflesh that. For Ken, the more important questions are when would you like to get started and when would you like to get this accomplished?
Ken builds a decision timeline with his clients to clearly communicate what the ramp up period would look like and what the ultimate process, including hoops, would end up looking like. In Ken’s world it could be regimented dependent on the industry, but overall Ken accomplishes this step as a conversation. Visuals in a meeting can also help the points you are making resonate with an individual in case you’re meeting face-to-face with clients.
If you act wishy-washy or flexible in your presentation step then you lose credibility. It’s important to stiffen your backbone and make it clear that you’ve been in the driver seat for the majority of your relationship with clients, but allow them to bring up any potential changes they’d like to make to accommodate their industry. By challenging them you show and demand your equal business stature—it is important to say “with all due respect,” rather than to begin and end every point with a, “yes.”