By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio, or listening live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. You can subscribe right at Sales Pipeline Radio and/or listen to full recordings of past shows everywhere you listen to podcasts! Spotify,  iTunesBlubrry, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, Stitcher and now on Amazon music.

This week’s show is called The Art and Science of Sales Negotiations with Jeb Blount“.  Jeb is the CEO of Sales Gravy.

Jeb shares what the salesperson in the future needs to get and understand and why he thinks this is the best time ever to be in sales ever because…

… in this crucible of pain that we’ve been through over the last year, salespeople and buyers, by the way, are being forced to learn new technology, learn new skills, step out of these embedded comfort zones and start thinking, “Let’s be flexible and agile.”

There is going to be a time to meet in person and there’s going to be a time to meet by phone. There’s going to be a time for text messaging. There’s going to be a time for face-to-face meetings. So why not get good at all of those things so you can meet your buyers where they are and you can move faster. And by the way, probably have more time to spend with your family like me.

I also ask Jeb what are some of the best practices he’s seeing companies do to make sales kickoff successful in a remote investment?

We also talk about the difference between the outreach and the volume and what people need to do to earn the attention.

This and so much more!

Matt:  Thank you everyone for joining us for our last episode here on Sales Pipeline Radio in 2020. Very excited that you’re joining us. If you’re listening to us on the Funnel Media Radio Network, thank you for listening to us live in the middle of your workday if you’re on the podcast. Thanks so much for subscribing. It’s been a great year for podcasts for all people, maybe not listening as much on their commute, but certainly listening at home, listening on their walks, listening on their Pelotons, wherever they are. So thank you very much for making us a part of your podcast collection. And if you’re just checking us out for the first time, we got five years of great back episodes available at salespipelineradio.com, including our repeat guests today, the hardest working man in sales, Jeb Blount. Jeb, thank you very much for joining us. Last episode of the year.

Jeb:  I feel honored to be on the last episode. Thank you so much for having me here.

Matt:  The honors all ours. I know you’re a super busy guy. You write one book a month or so. Actually my first question for you. I thought I traveled a lot last year and clearly haven’t done this year. I think you’re on the road pretty much constantly. You’re one of the most in demand sales trainers in the industry. What has this year been like for you to, I’m assuming not be traveling as much.

Jeb:  Yeah, it’s been amazing. So in 2019, I spent 311 nights in a hotel room just to give you an idea. So it’s crazy. You got a big family. You can imagine what that’s like. And I did over 300 nights, five years in a row and January, February it was looking like I wasn’t even going to be home because I was missing weekends. I was doing double red eyes where I would fly out to the West coast, do an event, get back on the airplane after the event, fly overnight to the East coast, do an event, get back on the airplane, fly back the West coast. All over the place. I mean, 18 hour flights to the Middle East, just constant travel. And then my very last event, it was on stage. There were 6,000 people in the audience.

I walked off, went into an audio studio to knock out an audio book. And when I walked out that afternoon, the world was closed. So, do you think where you’re traveling all the time, now you’re grounded, but man, we made a really quick switch. We had spent about the last 18 months working on building our sound studios out. So we have four major sound studios that we do virtual keynotes, virtual training, that type of thing. And we were preparing for a recession, not necessarily for a pandemic, but we know in a recession, people don’t quit consuming content. They just quit traveling. So we were getting ready for that and we hadn’t even unboxed everything. And we still had construction people in the studios. We made a quick flip over to that and we haven’t slowed down. It’s been the best year we’ve ever had.

We’re going to probably double, almost double the size of our company this year. We just added our 26th person. We’ve been hiring steadily and since Labor Day I’ve done 59 keynotes. My 60th keynote and last one for the year will be on Saturday. And you can imagine like 60 keynotes since Labor Day. And I haven’t got it on the airplane. I haven’t gone anywhere. And now I spend all day long in front of a video camera all day. That’s why I don’t travel anymore. And it’s fantastic. And what we found is because we’ve had to invest in the technology so we’re putting on a TV show. I mean, this is not like we’re staring down into a laptop doing a Zoom call and we’re doing high quality broadcast production, three full-time producers on our staff. But what we found is that if you can create a close enough facsimile to being there in person, it’s so much more efficient and it’s almost always just as effective that we can touch far more people with less friction than ever before. And when you talk about the new normal to me, that’s what the future is, right?

The future is going to be this blend between in-person physical meetings and virtual meetings done very, very well with hope and I believe that we’re going to be moving into a deeper set of AR and VR tools coming in here really soon so that we can meet with people anywhere, anytime, anyhow, and create human connections in a level that we’ve never been able to do before in human history.

Matt:  Well, and I think we’ve seen a lot of sales road warriors certainly get used to remote selling this year and are going to probably have to keep doing that into next year. Many of them doing it from phones and from web cams. Do you see an increase in the quality of video production and taking some of what you’re doing in the studio with producers and having that apply to sales reps as well?

Jeb:  Wrote the book Virtual Selling this year. So, in the book I show people exactly how to produce better and I’m in the middle of finishing up a book called Virtual Training Bible and same thing, taking it to the next level with people who train. But absolutely this is the thing. There’s not going to be going back to where we were. McKinsey just came out with a report basically showing us how B2B sales has changed forever because our buyers have changed. Our buyers, they got used to… now, they didn’t want to get used to, they got forced into getting used to, I can meet with you on a video. Like why do I need to spend an hour of my life getting ready for you to come to my office, getting through security, doing all those things when you can show up on a video, call me and have a conversation.

What the salesperson in the future needs to get and understand. And this by the way is for inside and outside. For inside sales, get off the phone and get on a video call because you’re going to do better. For outside salespeople what you need to figure out is that some of your calls are going to have to be on video. Some of them are going to be by phone and some of them are going to be in person. But what you’d have to do is start thinking about this concept of blending, which is picking the communication channel that’s going to give you the highest probability of getting the outcome that you desire at the lowest cost of time, energy, and money, wherever you are in the sales process. And to do that, you got to get really good at these virtual tools. We know that your buyer’s emotional experience as they go through the selling process with you or the buying process with you, is the most consistent predictor of outcome of any other variable.

And if you can deliver a better emotional experience on camera, like on screen, if you can make them feel good about working with you and you can create better production, then they’re going to want to have more of those meetings. If you can have more of those meetings, you’re going to shrink your sales cycle, create pipeline velocity and what we’re finding with salespeople who are getting good at this is that they’re able to have more in their pipeline than ever before. And that’s what I think salespeople have to get used to. And that’s why, by the way, Matt, I think this is the best time ever to be in sales ever because in this crucible of pain that we’ve been through over the last year, salespeople and buyers, by the way, are being forced to learn new technology, learn new skills, step out of these embedded comfort zones and start thinking, “Let’s be flexible and agile.”

There is going to be a time to meet in person and there’s going to be a time to meet by phone. There’s going to be a time for text messaging. There’s going to be a time for face-to-face meetings. So why not get good at all of those things so that you can meet your buyers where they are and you can move faster. And by the way, probably have more time to spend with your family like me.

Matt:  Yeah, love it. We’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Jeb Blount. He’s the CEO of Sales Gravy and if you haven’t been to salesgravy.com, do yourself a favor, he’s got a ton of great resources, articles, he’s written a ton of books that are definitely worth… I mean, he really literally wrote the book on sales training and as we round the corner into the new year, we’re getting into SKO season, right? And so this will be the first… it’s been not quite 12 months since the pandemic hit. So we are going to see a ton of virtual sales kickoffs, where I think a lot of companies are used to not just using this as a communication tool, but as a community building tool for their sales team, as a morale building tool for their sales team, a little harder to do that remotely. Is it, or what are some of the best practices you’re seeing companies do to make sales kickoff successful in a remote investment?

Jeb:  It’s a great question. So early on, so let’s go back to May and June. So going into June, we weren’t getting anything. April, May. We weren’t booking any virtual meetings. We were doing virtual training. We shifted quickly into that, but not virtual meetings. Mid June, July, we started picking up virtual meetings. We were doing sales kickoffs. We were doing conferences and I’m coming in as a keynote speaker and we have a massive keynote stage here at our studios. So we’re able to really put on a great show, completely produced. I mean, broadcast quality is gorgeous. And the very first ones were a little bit chaotic. They weren’t great. They were kind of messed up. Everyone’s trying to produce them themselves, but have noticed over the fall, as we do more and more of these things, that the companies are A, waking up and they’re getting help.

So they’re getting some professional people to come in and help them produce a better show. So that’s really helpful to see, and it’s easier for us when we’re working with a professional AV team, no different than we were there in person that we’re coming in and we’re becoming part of the show and it’s working. One of the things I love about the SKO is that so I’ll do a keynote. So let’s say I do a 45 minute keynote. And then afterwards I’m able to get on the screen and do Q&A with the audience. But it’s not just like somebody out in the audience asking me a question, which is kind of hard in a conference but literally they get on the screen, I’m talking directly to them. You never get that access at a big conference or a SKO. So we’re seeing that the companies are getting better at it and the salespeople are getting more used to it. And the quality of the entire thing is getting so much better. So they’re making them more fun. They’re making them more interactive.

Companies are getting good at being able to move people into breakouts. And they’re not like having people on all day long. They’re spreading them out over multiple days. And the best thing about it is they’re not putting a bunch of people on airplanes, traveling them in someplace or taking their entire inside sales team off the floor and moving over to some building somewhere. They’re able to do this in a way so that they’re not losing productivity. And what I’m hearing CEOs say, as we’re having conversations with them about these keynotes in their sales kickoffs is that they’re lamenting is, “I wish I could have everybody together.” That to me is just a control thing. I wish I had control over the situation, but at the same time, they’re saying, “Gosh, this went so well. We could do more of these.”

So imagine instead of having one meeting a year where you get your sales people together and spend a million dollars, now you can have multiple of these meetings and you can spend the money on things that are actually adding value, not a plane ticket. So I’m really, really hopeful for it. And like I said, I’ve done… my last one was on Wednesday 59, keynotes. 59 keynotes since Labor Day. How many days is that? That’s like 150 or more travel days at least to do that many keynotes. So the ability for organizations to hire people like me and bring me in, I mean, it’s a lot easier. I can do a keynote three times a day on a sales kickoff whereas before I could only do one. I’m really bullish on this.

What I hope more than anything, Matt is, I just, I mean, and I’m really like, I’m praying over this is that the leaders in these organizations will see the light and understand that there’s going to be a time to bring all their people together, but what could they do with the money and training and educating their sales team in bringing them together that they can do in a virtual world as they get better at this, that will give them way more bang for their buck?

Matt:  Well, it’s certainly interesting. I think, we’ve all been sort of figuring this out in real time. Lots of really good innovation and new ideas that I think definitely be part of the new normal.

Paul:  Be right back. Sales Pipeline Radio.

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Matt:  One of my favorite books of yours is Fanatical Prospecting and it was a super successful book and it really focused on making sure people understood how to make it a habit and how to do it successfully and consistently. Obviously people continue to prospect and continue to drive appointments and create pipeline in 2020. But now we have a lot of these clogged digital channels that are making it potentially a little more difficult. What are you seeing that are making the most successful prospectors this year successful in some of those sort of clog channels with people working from home?

Jeb:  Pick up the phone? I mean, honestly, that’s what we’re seeing is, pick up the phone. What’s making my team successful? I get salespeople who are hitting record years this year. Pick up the phone. They’re just calling people. So everybody’s sending emails. I get a million emails a day from salespeople. I get no phone calls. I mean, today a sales person sent me a text message to ask me if they could call me. Think about that. Why don’t you just… And I wrote back and said, I don’t understand why you can just call me. Why did you waste the time doing it? If I didn’t answer the phone, leave me a voicemail, I’ll call you back or call me again. So I don’t think anything has changed very much in prospecting. There are a couple of things that I think that salespeople need to adopt.

One of those is video messaging. We’ve talked a lot about video messages. There’s a lot of noise in the system about video messaging. There are certainly organizations like Vidyard, for example, who are really pumping up video messaging. Our video messaging workshops are full. We fill every single one of them up and people beg for more. We teach video messaging every day and still salespeople aren’t doing a lot of it. They’re not picking up the camera, shooting a message and sending it. But HubSpot had a study out that said that if you put a video message in email, that it increases conversion by about 400%. And I’m sure as a marketer, Matt, that makes you stand up and salute. That’s a big deal. And we’re not talking about like marketing videos. We’re talking about a video message. But what we’re seeing is that video messages can work across the entire sales process.

So from, for example, one of the things that we teach is you set the appointment, send a video message to confirm the appointment. You’re probably going to keep the appointment because the person doesn’t want to let you down. So, I think video messaging is huge. And by the way, you can send a video message on Instagram. You can do it on Facebook messenger. You can send it through WhatsApp and you can send one on LinkedIn. So aligning and bringing in direct messaging, which is… Like WhatsApp, for example, the Swiss army knife of virtual selling. Everything that you want is in one app. Using those… Salespeople. So they don’t know what their home phone number is. I said, “Well, call him on messenger. There’s a phone thing. Click it.” I called somebody, a complete stranger who posted something or typed a comment on… really nice comment on something I posted on Instagram.

I went to their profile and clicked the video button and we were in a video conversation instantly across the globe. Right? So I think that for salespeople, number one, pick up the phone, pick up the phone, pick up the phone, pick up the phone, call people. The more people you talk with, the more you’re going to sell. The phone is not clogged up because nobody’s calling. Number two, use video messaging. You can use them in email and write messaging and learn how to use direct messaging because it’s just another channel. And then there is one you can write digital channels, right? There’s one channel that is not clogged up that is completely empty and that’s the mailbox. So maybe think about sending a handwritten note, or I had a rep send me a box of stuff in the mail. It was just chotskies, but it was kind of cool because nobody’s sent me anything in the mail. And I picked up the phone and called and said, “Thank you,” and we got into a sales conversation.

So I think that you’ve got to start looking at this like an omni-channel approach. And then once you do that, I think if you want to get really sophisticated, then you start applying sequencing to your prospecting methodology so that you’re giving yourself a higher probability, statistically of connecting with the right prospect at the right time.

Matt:  I hear a lot of people tell us, tell me how are you converting to a fully digital sales environment? And my answer is like, “It’s not fully digital.” There are fewer people using their phone. Therefore it’s a good idea to use the phone. There are fewer people using the mailbox. Therefore, put something in the mail. I mean, for a while, working from home, going and getting the mail was a major event these days, but something interesting in there, right? What do you say to the people that continue to claim that cold calling is dead or cold calling doesn’t work or cold calling is not effective?

Jeb:  The beautiful thing is that during the pandemic, a lot of those people shut up because like they figured out that suddenly there was no other way. You had to cold call people. I just say… the same thing I always say, if you’re listening to these people and it’s making sense to you, they’re pandering to you because you don’t really want to cold call because prospecting, you know, is basically long stretches of suck, interrupted by a few brief moments of relations. That’s just the truth about prospecting. So the people who say you shouldn’t cold call, these are just people that just don’t want to prospect. And I get that. And frankly, they don’t even understand what a cold call is. Because all a cold call is, is interrupting people. I don’t care if they were an inbound lead. I don’t care if they connected with you 20 times on LinkedIn.

I don’t care if they’re an old customer. When you call and you don’t have an appointment, you are a cold call. You’re interrupting someone’s day. So it’s not about whether the cold call or not cold call, it’s about whether to interrupt or not interrupt. Send me a text message versus calling me. This is a human being that is afraid to pick up the phone and call me. So they put a text message in between me and them and they’re doing it in a way that’s like, “Would it be okay if maybe I could call you?” And all there showing is insecurity. So look, all this noise about remote selling, virtual selling, here’s the truth, Matt. Virtual selling was kicked off in 1876, maybe before that, maybe in the 1850s with a telegraph. But the modern age of remote selling was kicked off in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell made the very first phone call and said, “Watson, come here. I need to see you.”

I mean, at that moment, sales changed forever and the phone is still the most powerful tool that you have. So just pick up the phone and call people and then look, if you’re going to leave a voicemail, then send him an email. And if you send him an email, then touch them on LinkedIn and send them a box or a note in the mail and then send him a text message and then try to connect with them on messenger and then tell them that there’s a great picture they put on Instagram. It’s like just stop worrying about whether or not you should cold call or not cold call and go talk with people because the more conversations, the more human conversations you’re going to have, the more you’re going to sell and this… like going to a fully digital sales situation, basically the only way you’re going to be fully digital is if you get a bunch of robots that can talk to people and maybe that’s coming up, I don’t know.

I don’t see that happening anytime soon because people, for the most part, don’t like having conversations with robots, but maybe. So it’s all about human to human and you just got to go make the conversations happen.

Matt:  Yeah. Got just a few more minutes here with our guests on Sales Pipeline Radio. Jeb Blount. Definitely check out salesgravy.com. Lots of great resources in a variety of different formats. They’re just super generous with. There’s a lot of great content and if you’re thinking about doing anything from sales kickoff, sales meetings, doing some sales training, check these guys out. Yeah. I think your comment about cold calling and in calling it an interruption I think is important because for people that are going to get high and mighty and say, “Well, I don’t want to interrupt people,” it’s like, well, when you send them an email, you’re interrupting them. Right? And most of our emails, 90% of them are someone else’s priorities. If you’re going to put an ad in my Instagram feed, I didn’t want your ad. I wanted the next post from someone I’m interested in. So to me, it’s not as much about the medium, as much as it is about the value provide. What’s in it for me and why should I pay more attention to you?

And so that initial outreach, that is the interruption is not a chance necessarily to sell, but it’s to prove to someone that they should be listening to. Talk a little bit about the difference between the outreach and the volume and what people need to do to earn the attention.

Jeb:  Yeah. That’s a great word. Attention in today’s world is currency. And all you got to do is look around at all your social labs at TV and everything is happening. Everybody is vying for your attention and when they get it, they sell it to somebody else. That’s what we’re all about. So as a salesperson, you’re competing with everything else out there that is grabbing people’s attention. So your message has to be relevant to them. People are going to choose to meet with you for their reasons, not your reasons. And if there’s one thing that makes everybody crazy about being interrupted, it’s being interrupted by someone who is irrelevant and they’re wasting your time. A good example of this. There’s this sales rep that’s been trying to get in touch with me about this text messaging thing for platforms, for people like me.

And I’ve just ignored them because they’ve just been generically messaging me. And today I got a message from them. It wasn’t a phone call, but I got a message and the person, all of a sudden called me by my name, “Jeb, let’s make this real. I took some time to go through your website, take a look at what you do as an author, what everything that you do out there, you’re going to be the perfect fit for this and you really need to talk to me. And then I responded, “Why?” Because he said my name, he went through my website, he bridged it directly to my situation. It made sense. If your message makes sense to people, if your message is relevant, then it works. And this is… we talk about prospecting cadences and all these other things, message is the hardest part of that.

And all the marketers that are listening, stand up and pay attention because what Matt does in his firm and what you and your team does, you help companies with this type of messaging and it, by the way, if it’s a commercial or just a bold commercial, if the commercials not relevant people aren’t going to pay attention to it either. So the marketing team has to step up and help salespeople. Salespeople you got to realize that you can’t just be blasting out crap and people are going to pay attention to you. You got to step into their shoes and you got to think about what you’re saying. And there’s two types of messaging, Matt. There’s targeted and personalized. So targeted messaging is going to be messaging where you say you’ve got, say 500 prospects you’re going out in a particular vertical.

You need to make messaging that’s going to connect with people in that vertical or in that role, but it may not be directly applicable to their definite unique situation. Personalized messaging is when… So you’re going to be going after the C level and you’re sending a message to the CEO and you’re going to make a phone call and you got 10 seconds to get their attention. That message needs to be practiced. It needs about them. And it’s one-to-one. You’re not going to ever send that message to anyone else. And you got to get good at both of those things, because you’re not always going to be calling CEOs. Most of the time, you’re going to be dealing with people in a larger group, but the messaging still has to be relevant, it has to feel personal to them and it has to connect.

Matt:  And I think that the research you’re talking about doing to customize those messages, and that’s not an hour of doing work. I mean, what you just described is like two or three minutes. Just take a couple minutes just to learn a little bit about someone and figure out what they need and you’ll get a lot more out of the conversation. Well, Jeb, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for this conversation today. Just real quick, just let people know other than salesgravy.com, where else can people learn more about you? And maybe talk a little bit more about what else you have planned coming out in 2021?

Jeb:  Absolutely. Well, you can find me on LinkedIn. So just type my name in. You can also go to my website, jebblount.com. I’m at SalesGravy on Twitter SalesGravy on Instagram, at SalesGravy on Facebook. And you can find me at SalesGravy on YouTube, grab my podcast. It’s out there. It’s also called SalesGravy. So a lot of SalesGravy going on and we’re continuing to work with our brand new book, Virtual Selling. It’s a number one bestseller globally. It’s insane how many people are buying this book, but it’s all the things that we were talking about plus more matter in virtual selling. And then my brand new book coming out is called The Virtual Training Bible. And then I’ve got another book right behind that called Virtual Sales Coaching. And so you can tell I’m hanging out in the virtual world a little bit. So all of those things are happening in 2021.

And I’m interested to see where we’re going to go, but I can tell you this, in 2021, whether I’m doing it or Matt’s doing it, or someone else is doing it, there is going to be an explosion of innovation that’s coming behind this pandemic and we’re going to be moving a lot faster than we were before and we were already moving at warp speed.

Matt:  I agree. Well, Jeb, you are literally the man. Thank you so much for doing this. I know you’re busy. We’ll put links to some of those new resources and your books, in the show notes, but for today, we’re out of time. On behalf of my great producer, Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for listening everybody to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel.  I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.