The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 4 months ago

195: 3 Steps to Focus on Your Customer’s Customer

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Ashley Welch, Co-Founder at Somersault Innovation, where she leverages design thinking in sales coaching. Join us for an engaging conversation about the 3-step process to help sales reps unlock their empathy, curiosity, and insightfulness.

What You’ll Learn

  1. The importance of focusing on your customer’s customer
  2. True sales is about empathy
  3. Harnessing challenge into curiosity
  4. Ashley’s discovery-insight-acceleration framework

Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. About Ashley Welch & Somersault Innovation [2:05]
  2. Bringing concepts of design thinking to sales [5:24]
  3. Step one: discovery [7:29]
  4. Step two: insight [14:03]
  5. Step three: acceleration [17:41]
  6. Paying it forward [25:16]
  7. Sam’s Corner [27:31]

One, two, one, three, three, hey everybody, as Sam Jacob's welcome to the sales hacker podcast. To Day in the show we've got Ashley Welch. Ashley is going to be talking to us about why it's so important to focus on your customers, customer so it's a really interesting conversation, a great conversation, and I'm excited for you to hear it. Now, before we get there, we've got three sponsors. The first is pavilion. Pavilion is the key to getting more out of your career. Our private membership connects you with the network of thousands of like minded peers and resources where you can tap into leadership opportunities, professional development, mentorship and other services made just for high growth leaders like you. Join US FOR THE PAVILION ANNUAL KICKOFF, featuring Kim Scott, author of radical candor, on February third, open to everybody, and we'll be featuring special awards from the pavilion community for our best and brightest members across sales, marketing, customer success and operations. The URL to check out is hopincom forward slash events, forward slash pavilion annual kickoff. Two Thousand and twenty two so it's pavilion annual kickoff with Hyphens in the middle at hop and forwards lash events. Now we're also brought to you by outreach. outreaches the first and only engagement and intelligence platform built by revenue innovators for revenue innovators. Outreach allows you to commit to accurate sales forecasting replace replace manual process with real time guidance and unlock actionable customer intelligence that guides you and your team to win. More often, traditional tools don't work and a hybrid sales and world find out why. outreaches the right solution and clicked out outreach dooh forwards, thirty MPC and finally, Flock Jay. With sales becoming increasingly knowledge driven and digital first, elite sales leaders are looking for ways to invest in the most important part of their tech stack, their people. Flock Jay helps sales team from five to five thousand do their best work by automatically capturing, tagging and sharing best practices wherever they are. Find out how to elevate your sales team at flock Jaycom forward slash sales hacker. Now, without further ado,...

...let's listen to my conversation with Ashley Welch, everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the sales hacker podcast. Today on the show we are excited to have Ashley Welch. Ashley is the CO founder of somersault innovation, a sales enablement firm which provides a unique approach to sales development and companies such as sales force, sales lost service, now Microsoft, for ster research and others. Somersault offers go to market professional tools and techniques from the world of design thinking to drive customer centricity and Revenue Growth. Prior to founding somersault innovation, she spent the last twenty years as a leading sales professional managing a multimillion dollar portfolio of global clients for a consulting firm. She has a strong wander lust and loves to travel. Closer to home, she founded Ted x youth at Wayland and her hometown to enable students to tell their stories, spread inspiring ideas and infuse the town with energy and activism. Ashley, welcome to the show. Thank you so much, Sam. Thanks for having me. We're excited to have you, so we like to start by giving you an opportunity to tell us a little bit more about your company. So I read a little bit of the intro for summer salt innovation, but you know, in your words, what do you all do? Tell us, tell us what's the value that you add to the world? Yeah, well, I think of us as a sales enailment firm for first and foremost. So we have pioneered this niche of bringing tools from the world of design thinking, which is an innovation methodology. It's quite popular right now and sort of I think of us as curators taking the best tools from the world of design thinking and giving it to various customer facing individuals or professionals, primarily in tech, to enable them to be more customer centric, do better discovery, Co create with their customers, etc. In a way that really does grow revenue in the accounts that these people work in. Well, I am we're going to dive deep into that because I'm very curious. But tell how long have you you know? Again, I read a little bit about it in the Intro, but tell us a little bit about your background. How long have you been doing Somemr salt innovation? Give us a little bit of context. Yeah, well,...

...we started the company Justin Jones and I seven years ago. So it's it's hard for me even to believe, but it's been seven years. And what did you do before then? Yep, before that I was a sales professional at a consulting firm. So I had my own portfolio of clients and ran a small team to to sell and service the clients that we were working with and had to get into sales. Originally, it's a great question. Actually, sort of by chance, I had found this consulting firm. I loved what they did, I love the people. I knocked on their door and said, I really will do anything for you for a year and then I would love to transition into some kind of other role. I got a job as an assistant to to sales people. I thought I wanted to be a consultant, but after working with both of them, they kept saying, and I know you were I mean sales, and I found I had a knack for it and it was it was kind of old school sales back then. They sort of would whip something up and then they would hand it over to me to actually, you know, write the proposal, make it happen. So it was a good training ground and I loved it and I and I sort of spoke to my entrepreneurial energy and I just stayed in sales from then on. And what part of the world where you living in? You give it ground it for us, and geographically this is in Boston and the northeast. This is somewhere else. Yeah, Boston, where I still am right now. I love it all right. Well, in the beginning, you know, you mentioned bringing concepts of design thinking to sales. Let's dive into that a little bit. What do you mean by that and tell us what are the basic tenets of design thinking that you that we can all incorporate into our sales process. Yeah, well, let's start with what is design thinking? So I think of design thinking as a methodology that sits in the same realm as six sigma, Lean Agile. It's just a methodology that people use in organizations to sort of tackle problems or create new innovations, and design thinking...

...is usually a five stays stage process. Each piece of the puzzle or each stage has a set of tools. What's different about design thinking versus a regular problem solving process is you always start with this sort of ruthless curiosity about the end user or customer. So, as an example, if you were to create a new, let's say Mug, in the very simple example, instead of just coming out with your best idea for the new fancy Mug or water bottle, you would first just watch people drink and ask them all sorts of questions and really understand how they drink, why they drink, when they drink, all sorts of things, so that you are creating from the insights that you have about your and customer. So the sort of underpinnings of design thinking are curiosity, empathy, agility, customer centricity, and then they're all sorts of tools that help you do all of those things really well. So in Discovery, they're all sorts of ways to get really good insights about your end user. And so what we said is, well, wait a second. I know this is used for innovation in organizations, but a lot of these things that designers do great sales people do as well. They're super curious, they do great discovery, they want to cocreate with their customers, their insight hunters, and so we've been taking the best tools from the world of design and giving them two sellers. So we start with you mentioned there's like a five step process, but let's go through each step. So the first the first in my right that the first part is to your point, right, which is which is essentially sales, which is just empathy and curiosity about the end user, your prospect, really trying to understand where they are, what they're doing, what are the what are the next steps, and walk us through that, the full process. Yeah, well, actually I think it's. What we did is sort of translate the design thinking process, which is five steps, into three steps that actually map more closely to, or three...

...stages that map more closely to the sales process. So we've mapped it such that it's discovery, insight and acceleration. So in discovery it's just exactly what you said, like how do I stay open enough in that discovery phase to really understand not only what my customer cares about but their customer cares about, because if you can figure out what their customer cares about, that's really where value is created for your customer. So if you can start having a conversation about what that end customer cares about with the person you're talking about talking to, it's a whole different conversation than talking about what you're selling. So I was just talking to a software company yesterday that sells marketing software and they sell into retailers, for example. So let's say their customer is TJ Max. WHO BUYS FROM TJ Max? Well, you me all different types of customer sets. Right, young, let's say, millennial, looking for a bargain, people looking for the high quality, low price. So my wife, she said good by stuff from TJ Max. Yes, they're looking for you to get addicted to buying. It's to day Max. Anyway, if, let's say I'm talking to TJ Max as this marketing software group, instead of talking about the features and benefits of my marketing software and how great it's going to be to connect to their customers with this software, if I can talk about what millennials are looking for or, you know, young women in New York City who are stopping at TJ Max, that's a whole different conversation. So anyway, we were in sellers to that sort of level of discovery and then in the inside phase we're saying, okay, so all these things that you learn and discovery, what's something insightful and newsworthy that would be interesting to bring to your customer that you know that would enable them to engage with you and say wow, you understand me, let's talk further. And this is a distillation of the discovery process that you did with that customer, or this...

...is the collective synthesis of all of your conversations with customers like this customer so that you can bring them that that insight. I'd say both. Okay, it's there's not. You know. What I'll say, unfortunately, is there's not a recipe. So I think a lot of times in sales were looking for just if you just tell me the process and just tell me the steps and if I follow it, then I'll I'll get revenue. Basically, it's not quite as clear cut. I always think of this work that we do is more about the art of sales versus the science, and so in insight it's it's all of the above. You know, you might have done, let's say it's a it's a big enterprise deal and therefore it warrants really deep discovery and you might have done a lot of different discovery both with the end customer, your customer, other cust you know, other industries that are like your customer, and therefore you have a lot of different insights to share or you may have just had ten minutes before you get on a call and you've looked at some, let's say, customer sat reports and have a few interesting things to share. My question is, and sorry, there's always background noise because I record in the middle of the city, so you know I like it. You're my dog and I was like, Oh, she's gonna Howlo or she's the city as a perspective on this conversation. Somehow. Here's the biggest challenge I see with often with young people, but really with anybody that's being taught discovery, which is that you try to you try to tell people, hey, curiosity and empathy are the are the are the the coin of the realm. You know, you have to have those and you have to be interested in your prospect and they say okay, sounds good and they go into the customer conversation and they start asking a bunch of questions and then at some point they get lost. Yeah, and they forget. They become it's almost like they get lost in the woods. They're not sure how to get back. They don't they can't understand how to relate the questions they're asking. There's like I'm asking the questions. They told me to ask the questions, but they don't understand how to tie that back to a business conversation, to some kind of necessarily a transactional buying conversation, but what they're supposed to do...

...with the information. And so sometimes from the prospects perspective you're just in this sort of like long, unending interrogation without any purpose to it. So how do you coach reps so that they don't get stuck in that place? They leverage their empathy and their curiosity and their humanity, but they do it in a way that they feel like there's at least some structure that guides them back to some logical resting point. Yeah, that's interesting. I didn't think that's what you were going to say. I thought you're going to say that they they don't actually stay that curious. So you're saying they stay curious, they they ask all their questions and then they're just sort of sitting there like they don't make this pivot to to like well, here's an insight and what do you think about this? And then linking it into what yeah, they they they we tell them to ask questions, they ask questions and then at some point they're like I'm asking the questions, I just have no idea how the help to tie this back to us to a sales process. So far down the pathway of questions, now I've lost in the woods. That does come up actually quite a bit in the conversations that we have with sellers. I think I don't have a formula, but I think what we talked about is this idea of like be normal, be human, like you, you're having a conversation with someone about something right, you're we're not just talking to shoot the shit it for no reason. Like be natural in terms of like well, thank you. You know, I've heard all this reflected back. This is what I've heard, and then make the translation, like this is what's interesting to me and how it might connect to what I do or, you know, a question that leads them into some something that's like a strategic like what are they trying to do strategically so that you can make the link. I think part of it doesn't feel to me like there's a there's not a like a framework to follow. More it's like use your natural instinct around how to synthesize what you've learned into a conversation about the future. That makes sense...

...when you a lot of firms, a lot of companies, are many of your clients. You're going to go into them and they're already teaching discovery in some way, but you're teaching them maybe a different kind of discovery. Is the is the insight, although, of course inside is the second step in your process, but is the is the is the difference between what might be considered traditional discovery and your discovery? Is the emphasis on the customers, customer, or are there additional questions that you introduce that sort of make it more that make it differentiated and sort of closer to design thinking in your your perspective? Yeah, we don't offer a list of questions. So it is very much I think the emphasis on the customers, customer is what's unique. I think we also talk about doing your discovery in a way that you're you're looking for information that links to the macro priorities of your customer. So let's take TJ Max again. If the first thing I would say, if you're doing discovery on TJ Max is first understand, by reading up on Tj Max, what are their macro priorities. So let's say they're MAC one of their macro priorities is to focus on the millennial generation and increasing revenue from millennials online and in store. I would then recommend to the wrap. Well, then do your discovery on millennials, because that's what your customer cares about. figure out what millennials care about, figure out something interesting about you know what they're saying in the market place, about what they shot for, when or how, and use and get that information and delivered that to your customer to start an interesting dialog. So I think the the macro priorities the customers, customer are unique. And then we the what's we're pulling from design thinking, as well as like how to be curious. So I think, like one of the things you said in the beginning was we asked reps to be curious and empathic, like, go ahead, ask questions, be authentic in your curiosity. But I think some people aren't naturally good at that or they just need a...

...little more direction. And so what the world of design helps us with is okay, so if I'm curious, how do I do that? Like what am I paying attention to? And we tell people to pay attention to for things, we say, pay attention to where you here value. Like where you hear someone cares about some thing, they either they they think it's amazing, oh I just love this Xyz, or I'm super frustrated. That shows you some emotion. So when you hear that, dig in ask for more information, like wow, that sounds like it's frustrating to you. Can you tell me more about them? So where is someone see value? Where are their inconsistencies? If you hear an inconsistency like that, tells you something like with this is a huge priority for us, but we don't have any budget. That's an inconsistency like that would be a place to dig in. Tell me more hacks or workarounds. If someone's doing something that that helps them get around a system. That's interesting. Tell me more about like why did you create that? WHAT UNMET NEED is underneath that? And then, lastly, something that surprises you for having a conversation, and it's very it's you say something that's surprising to me instead of just blowing by that. It's a place to dig in and say, wow, I hadn't thought about that, or can you tell me more about that? So we're we're giving people prompts to sort of accelerate their curiosity and help them learn more information. That seems very, very important, because some people really don't come to the table with with the right level of curiosity sometimes, and so I think that sounds really useful. So step one is discovery. Yeah, step two is insights, which which has some parallels to this concept of commercial teaching, which comes from a challenge or sales methodology, and then the last episodeceleration. Is that right? Yes, correct. So what happens then? Yeah, so in acceleration we're really helping the seller move into this co creative stance. So we know, right, all of us know, that the more that you you are involved in a process of creation, the more ownership you have. Always love the...

...the someone said to me, have you ever washed a rental car, and I was like no, because you don't own it. So what we're trying to get is the seller to move into a place of CO creation with their customers, so it's not sort of US versus them, but it's us together. So how do you do that? Well, as early as you can in the sales process you want to be asking for feedback. You want to say hey, sounds like this is something that might be useful. I'd love to give you a draft and get your fingerprints on this. So invite them into tailor what you're creating. Use White boards to visualize something and get their fingerprints on it. We talked about using a mutual success plan that is truly mutual. You know, I see mutual success plans where the sort of the end of the plan is you've signed my contract. Versus, the end is when you, customer, have received value, and great mutual success plans are done on like a google docs or something, so that both of us, the seller and the buyer, can add to it change it, so we are mutually owning the process of creating value through this transaction. So there are many different tools around co creation, but it's all about sort of accelerating the deal by co creating with your customer. That makes a lot of sense. Do you you know? One of the the questions that I think keeps coming up is what do you think keeps companies, and specifically sellers, from being customer centric in the way that they need to be in order to do all of these things, Co create and share insights together and focus on the customers? Customer well, actually I have an answer, but I'm curious what you think. You know. Well, fundamentally, I think it's actually like the fundamental thing that you said is is at the very beginning, I think is the main thing, which is a lack of curiosity and a lack of empathy. I think, I mean, that's fundamental, not there are reasons why and there are factors that are driving sort of a selfcentered nests and I think...

...there's a cultural self centered nest that keeps coming into play and but I think, I think there's so perhaps it's generational, perhaps I'm a little but I just think that fundamentally, at the core of the problem, the core of the problem is that people are thinking about themselves and not about other people. Now there are reasons why, but that's kind of where. But but sometimes it's not a business reason. Sometimes it's just this is how people were raised in people behave. I worked at a company and this happens a lot with with technologists in my experience. But again, I'M gonna I'll give you. I want to know what you think, but just to underscore my answer that the issue I've seen with companies that are not customer centric is that they don't really care about their customers. And you know, a lot of times people have built really, really cool technolog Ology, you know, using machine learning and niche natural language processing and they have some new technical innovation and the customer says what Kin I do? And you say, well, can do everything, it can do anything you want, what you wanted to do. Yeah, and that's because that's because you haven't liked you're not solving a specific problem on behalf of somebody else, you're sort of just making something that you think is really cool. Yeah, and I think that that's a lack of empathy and a lack of curiosity about the other person. So, but what do you think? Yeah, I think all of that is true. I think that the I like say the promise of pay and the pressure of sales are two big inhibitors to customer centricity. If you're paying me to close, right, you're paying me a lot of money to close, in fact, often in these tech companies, and so I'm sort of maniacal in my focus of just closing the deal, which keeps me, I think, keeps us from being our best curious, empathic selves when money's on the line. I think the pressure of sales is real, and you know, I hear it all the time of managers will be saying, like you told me you were getting Sam Fiftyzeros this week. Right, you have that in your forecast. Where is it? And you might say, well, I did, but you...

...know it just went away or you know it's not looking so good and I say I don't care, right, you put it in there. Give Me Fiftyzero. So that's extreme. But what is that? I just had that conversation this morning. So you get. No, I'm just getting so what does that do? That? All that does is make me sell anything. Like I'll sell you anything. I'll promise anything. Right, I'm no longer that interested in what you care about. I'm just trying to get the deal done. So I think there's a lot about sales inherently that actually keeps us from doing great discovery. And sometime we want it faster, right, we want it closed faster. There was a great story in Big High Tech Company we were working with and one of the biggest deals they ever sold, multi multi million, multiyear deal took over a year to sell and the AE who was running the deal almost got fired because it was taking too long. And then it closed. So I think there is a lack of ability to like slow things down a little bit for the payoff of a great partnership and a much bigger deal. Well, that is true. The world is mainly transactional and mainly short term focused. One last question before we want to get to your influences. You've said that you think marketing and sales should report into the same person. HMM, yeah, expand on that if you would, because I think, and now the context is a lot of it is increasingly common that that that that's not true and that you know, there's a CMO and the Cro, the chief revenue officer, used to be the person that ran sales and marketing and count management and all of the things, and now it's really just a more expensive head of sales. Yeah, tell us why you think that marketing and sales should report to the same person. Yeah, well, I guess underneath that comment is I think marketing in sales need to be aligned in service of the customer, and what I see all the time is a lack of alignment. Marketing is pushing talk track up, you know,...

...deck a product that's just come out, and sales is trying to let's say in the best case, really listen to their customer and not necessarily push, because maybe the customer doesn't need it, what marketing is telling them to say. And so I think that lack of alignment decreases customer centricity. And so I guess my imagination is if they were actually joined at the hip and therefore reported into the same person or it was almost sort of an integrated function, we would be serving the customer better and those two functions would get along better. That makes that makes sense to me. There are folks out there that will say I want, I want tension in the you know, in the in the bridge and the suspension bridge. Like I need I need constructive tension. I need product and engineering to report to different people, you know, to report to the CEO, but not to one person, and I need sales and marketing to report to the CEEO, but not to the same person. But I think alignment is is the name of the game. Yeah, and I think if you want to be customer centric you need those two kind more closely connected. Great well, we're almost at the end of our time together. Actley, of course we'll talk to you on on Friday, for Friday fundamentals. But this last part is what we what we like to call paying it forward a little bit. We we like to know who are the influences. You know, the could be people, could be investors, could be books you've read that are important. Doesn't have to be a business book. When you think about really ideas or humans that you think we should know about because they've had a big impact on you, who comes to mind? Well, I'll have to say David Strauss, who wrote how to make meetings work and the S and was the founder of the company that I used to work with, interaction associates. Really was profound in my thinking in terms of how do you help people collaborate more effectively, and that skill is so valuable...

...regardless of what industry or roll you sit in, and there are really clear tools and processes to help people listen to each other better, make decisions better, go through a problem solving process or group process in a more effective way. So how to make meetings work super useful and easy to follow book. So that's one of them. I love it, Ashley. If folks are listening and they want to get in touch with you, they want to hire some herself to innovation they want to talk more, what's the best way to get in touch? Okay, wait, actually I was remiss and not saying one other book, which, of course, is our book. I didn't even tell you. A pretty big fail right there. The most influential book I've ever read is the book I wrote, Naked Sales. How design thinking reveals a Customer Moods and drives revenue. So how do they get in touch with me? You can find me on Linkedin and also my email address is Ashley at Somersault innovationcom. Somersault is with one M and it's spelled just like you do. A somersault, not like summertime, and I'd love to talk to anyone who wants to connect. Awesome. Well, I'm sure you'll get some outreach. Ashley, thanks so much for being on the show this week and we're going to talk to you on Friday for Friday fundamentals. Excellent. Thanks so much. Sam. Hey Everybody, Sam Jacob, SAM's corner. Really love that conversation with Ashley Welch. If there's one thing that maybe you want to take away from that conversation, for me it's a simple but really powerful insight, which is focus on your customers, customer right focus on their priorities, their need. So many times we're so caught up focusing on ourselves. We are trying to hit our number, we are trying to do whatever it is that we need to do in order to accomplish the goal that we set out for ourselves. But true sales is about curiosity. True sales is...

...about empathy. True sales is actually being interested, actually not fake, actually being interested in other people and trying to understand what is it, what makes them tick out? Why do they why do they do what they do? How did they make that decision? Why is that? Why are they on the phone? Why are they spending time with you? You know, one of the things I teach people. I had a there was a salesperson that worked for me. He's since gone on to become a very successful entrepreneur and CEO and sold his company and made a bunch of money. But he's to talk about this concept of, you know, the Knowledge Frontier, and I always thought about this concept of the the naive alien. And I know most of you haven't seen the movie star Man. It's a it's an old movie with Jeff Bridges and Careen Allen from the early so you're probably it's probably ten years before you even born. But here's the point. The point is that Jeff Bridges comes to earth and and he's curious about everything. Right, he's curious. Why do you hold the teacup like that? You know. Why do you drink like that? Why do you do that? Why do you walk this way? And I think one of the ways that you can sort of like try to harness curiosity as this concept of like question, what if you were an alien from a different universe and you are genuinely curious? Why the heck do you? Why is it WHO's in control? When you put that rope around that furry beast with four legs and then you walk around picking up its Poop, that must mean that you work for the for the beast. Why do you work for the beast? Why do you get on your hands and knees and feed that beast by hand? In that case it's because Walter's old and he's picky about his food. But anyway, you know. So if you want to sell me something related to dogs, obviously you can see where my heart's at. But the point is that if you come at it from with not with antagonism and not with confrontation. It's not about challenging in this so many people hear about the challenger Sale, the Challenger customer, and they think it's like, Oh, I get it, I know how to be a challenger sales person. I act like an asshole right, that's...

...challenger. I'm challenging them and know it's about challengers frankly, about commercial teaching. Ashley's approach, through design thinking, is about genuine curiosity and about focusing on the needs of the person you're talking to and what they're trying to do in their life, not necessarily what you're trying to do in your life. And and she's you know, she has this concept of being open and I think that's really, really important. So, at any rate, those are my thoughts. We're going to tell you about all of our sponsors shortly, but I hope everybody's kicked off the year in a really strong way and we'll talk to you all next time. And finally, Flock Jay. With sales becoming increasingly knowledge driven and digital first, elite sales leaders are looking for ways to invest in the most important part of their tech stack, their people. Flock Jay helps sales team from five to five thousand do their best work by automatically capturing, tagging and sharing best practices wherever they are. Find out how to elevate your sales team at flock Jaycom. FORWARD SLASH SALES HACKER.

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