Winning the Sell in the new market with Jen Allen

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With all the changes in the sales landscape, Jen Allen has had to adapt. Mistakes will happen, but by falling back on the tried and true Challenger methods, those mistakes won’t be as costly. Join Brad and Jen as they discuss the changing market, and what it means for salespeople and the Challenger method!

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Winning the Sell in the new market with Jen Allen

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Episode Transcript

With all the changes in the sales landscape, Jen Allen has had to adapt. Mistakes will happen, but by falling back on the tried and true Challenger methods, those mistakes won’t be as costly. Join Brad and Jen as they discuss the changing market, and what it means for salespeople and the Challenger method!

[00:00:00] Brad Seaman: You’re famous here. We love having you. So I’m so glad to have you so glad to have you on. Um, let’s talk about, um, I’m gonna sort of give you the floor and let you sort of tell me what, uh, you know, what’s exciting. That’s going on in the sales space. I know we got a lot of layoffs, um, that looks like that’s maybe starting.

So that’ll be interesting topic to talk about. Um, but you know, you can ha you can have the floor and I know you got, you’re passionate about a lot of stuff.

[00:00:28] Jen Allen: that I am. And, and I will say, like, I was just, I was talking to Kelsey, your producer when we were, um, getting ready for this. And it’s just really disheartening to see how much of it’s happening.

It almost feels like, you know, the first few came out and now everybody’s like looking at each other, like, okay, well, let’s just jump on the bandwagon. Why, you know why we’re not gonna be singled out. and I mean, I think about like, even, I think I’ve talked to you about this, even though I took on this different role, like I still carry a bag because it just helps me stay relevant and understand what’s going on.

And I’ve had a couple deals this month that were literally at signature stage, gone, gone through all of the like approvals, all the stuff you needed. And then as a result of this stuff are, are falling out now. And so I personally feel it like I’m talking to a lot of sellers who are feeling it. and I think there’s like, there’s one big apparent lesson to me that I know, but just like, we, it happens in sales.

Like we know something and then we forget it and then we realize like, shit, like it happens again. Um, for me, like in a couple of these deals, like I was so focused on getting the consensus, like getting the many. On board. So like some really cool stories that happened. Like I disrupted a competitor who was like in signature, stayed with them.

They went back 20 stakeholders, like all the stuff that we normally talk about. But I think incorrectly, I focused a lot on making sure I won over the many. What I failed to do in one of them was recognize there was someone else who had the ability to say no. And it’s always a reminder to me that like one no can outdo 10, 15, 20 yeses.

And I got hit with it. And it was just like one of those things where I’m like now, did you know

[00:02:04] Brad Seaman: that that no existed? Did you know that you just, no, you didn’t

[00:02:07] Jen Allen: know. It wasn’t even a no to us per se. It was. Someone else had an order that was different. Like we need to do this and then that. And so like where we’re at signature stage, we’re going through terms and red lines and all that stuff.

This pops up. And it was like nobody in the buying group knew it was going on. And so that was a, that was a hard one.

[00:02:28] Brad Seaman: Huh? My, my son learned one of his first sales lessons, which he got some, so he plays lacrosse. He put a bunch of lacrosse. He found a field that just was like littered with lacrosse balls.

So he, he grabbed like a whole trash can full of these lacrosse balls. And his coach told him he’d buy. Or maybe the team managers maybe better said he’d buy ’em the balls. So, or by the balls from him. So he is like, okay, I’ll buy, I’ll buy all these, I’ll buy all these balls for you. One thing led to another.

And next thing, um, the, the, the coach is using the balls, but he hasn’t made his payment. And my kid’s like, Hey, I need, I need to get paid. I need cash. I got two guys on the team that help me put ’em together. They need their, they need their money. I need to, I need to get paid. So the coach comes after practice.

And he puts the balls down. There’s a lot going on and he put the balls down. He’s like, um, Hey, they decided they didn’t want the balls. And he walked off. My kid’s like, who’s they point where he didn’t know all the, he didn’t know all the buyers. Right. So he up the balls, but it was just really funny.

Cause he’s I, you were the guy. Yeah. Mean, I don’t want the ball. You, my lawyer.

[00:03:35] Jen Allen: I love that story. It’s like, so, so real. How often do we make that mistake?

[00:03:39] Brad Seaman: But anyways, he, he did end up getting, he did end up getting paid. Oh, good. As he should. He paid all his, he paid all his, his employees. So he is good. All his little workers.

So good.

[00:03:49] Jen Allen: More to be said than a lot of companies right now. So good for that’s that’s right. So do you think,

[00:03:54] Brad Seaman: so what I think’s interesting about the layoffs is do, um, do you think it’s gonna trick there’s lots of companies that haven’t been able to hire. Because the market’s been so tight. Do you think those trickle down or do you think that we’re going in, do you think people need to tighten up their belts?

Cuz we’re getting ready to get into a Rocky easement.

[00:04:15] Jen Allen: Yeah. It’s so hard to say like I’m the last person to make like commentary on the economy. What I will say is I do think. Moments like these are when sales leaders recognize that like the volume game is just not it, right? Like we putting more bodies towards a growth challenge is never the right answer.

And I do think the very best leaders who maybe like stumbled into it or felt pressure to drive growth that way will take a step back and realize like, we’ve gotta go for quality over quantity. And like there’s no bad quantity that gets us out of this thing. But I do think for people that are hiring, I guess, My concern is it’s really hard to sit back and not feel like, Hey, that could be us.

Like the it’s just the uncertainty of it. All that I think is the scary part. Cuz even if you have open positions, it’s like, you don’t wanna be the next company that brings someone on. And two weeks later has to let them go and I’m seeing. So much. I mean that, and like, this is the era we live in, right.

Where like people get put on blast for that. Like, I’m seeing so much of that on LinkedIn where it’s like finger pointing at the companies and the executives and all this stuff. And so I think those same

[00:05:16] Brad Seaman: people are the people that are shouting everybody out when they’re raising money. I mean, you can’t the same people that are like high fiving.

Everybody when the fundraising rounds are going in or the same people that are point at everybody, when they’re getting fired, they go hand in hand. I mean, you can’t have. You can’t have the growth without the, the, um, they, I mean, I think they go, I think they go hand in, I think they go hand in

[00:05:36] Jen Allen: hand. Yeah.

No, I agree with you. And I just, I think it’s a time when like every individual seller really has to sit back and say like, is this a company where I feel safe? Is this a company where I see them investing in like the right type of things? And that’s hard. Like I’ve never been part I’m almost like don’t wanna say it.

Cause I don’t wanna like have it come true, but like I’ve never been part of a layoff. I’ve been part of an organization where we’ve done layoffs. I just can’t even imagine when I read these posts and I’m just like to wake up and then all of a sudden, like your safety and your security is gone is just, Ugh.

Can’t imagine.

[00:06:09] Brad Seaman: Well, one of the companies that, right, so there was the, so one of the comp their lots companies, but a company that I saw did a bunch of layoffs. Um, I remember maybe probably a year and a half ago, they had raised a ton of. I remember being kinda like, look, we’ve bootstrapped the business. I had raised a bunch of money in my previous company.

I really had been committed to not raising money. We’ve done it so far. I can’t say we won’t do it in the future. Um, but I really felt like we were in a market that we could grow a profitable business. I, I, this could change. I don’t feel like we’re in a, I do not feel like my space that I’m in is in a winter take all market.

So I feel like, and that may change and I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to adjust my, um, expectations and what, but, but optimizing for control and want to be wanting to create a business that, um, that I got to run and that I was able to, um, impact my clients in a way that I felt like was in, in their best interest, not somebody else’s best interest is really important to me.

Now, without that being said, there’s a lot of money going around and there’s been times where I’m. Man that’s that, that seems that would be awesome. You know, but one of these companies that I had a little bit of jealousy about, just let a bunch of people go. Um, and, um, I talked to some of their people and I just, you know, it’s like, you just don’t, it’s the, you know, the grass didn’t always greener on the other side.


[00:07:34] Jen Allen: just it. Right. And it’s, and, and like, I can empathize, like, if you’re super passionate about your business and someone’s walking over the bag of cash, like I get the temptation. I totally do. But I do think it’s what separates kind of great leaders is the ability to say like, okay, what am I signing up for?

And like, what am I actually gonna do with this money? Like, it’s a huge responsibility and it’s. . I mean, I think some of it probably, you know, I think our upbringing sometimes shapes how we look at things like that, but spending someone else’s money recklessly, like I, I couldn’t sleep at night with that.

[00:08:08] Brad Seaman: Yeah, definitely a midway. I mean, it’s, we have totally different topic here. Here’s the thing that I think is interesting is that, um, you sold in a, you were in a recession, like you sold in the great recession, right? Were you at CB when. So doesn’t sound like there are any layoffs that you were part of. So that’s awesome.

Um, but there’s a lot of people that don’t know what it’s have any idea what it’s like to be in a, to be, to sell in a recession. Yeah. Um, so it’ll be real. It’ll be interesting. Um, and every recession’s different. If we go into one, we may not even go into one who knows. Yeah.

[00:08:43] Jen Allen: Maybe not. I think we’re all just like we’ve got, you know, they could iron out.

You’ve sold in a recession, right? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. What did you think was like, I mean, if you had to tell yourself, like, go back in time, like, what would you tell yourself to be prepared for?

[00:08:59] Brad Seaman: Yeah, no, that’s a really good, I think, um, just your expectations need to be adjusted. I mean, I was in, we were, we were winding a business.

I was winding a business down in the recession. I mean, it was painful. Um, I think the big thing is your expectations have to be. Um, adjusted, and then you really have to think about the things that bring value to the, to the client and what’s important to them. So you immediately have to really start understanding how they’ve been affected in how the, whatever the new normal is and look, every recession’s really, every recession’s really different.

I think, um, in what you sell really makes a, makes a huge impact. So I think the first thing that happens in a recession, and then we saw this in COVID. For for a little bit is anything somebody can do themselves. They immediately cut. So that’s like your marketing team, your SEO agency, your any service companies getting, getting hacked?

Um, I that’s my that’s my belief, my, my belief through observation and through just logic, right? Immediately you say, Hey, what can we do? What can we not do? So you slash everybody. um, that you can’t any vendor that you can’t do yourself. Then you start looking at companies that you can’t, you just can’t live without.

And so I think the, the important thing and that, and this is really where that challenger sale came, came to birth, right. Is in, this is like, Hey, there’s a group of people that were not being affected. Um, but I think at the core, I mean, you could correct me at the core of the challenger, I think is insight and value.

Right? Mm-hmm, , it’s communicating. Insight and it’s communicating value when everything else is falling apart. So I think those are, I mean, I do agree with that. I mean, I think immediately vendors get cut based on whether or not somebody can do it. And then they start looking at value, um, purchases and it, and it could be a service.

I mean, there’s some things you can’t do that you have to have a service, but I think those service companies are definitely the first to get salt.

[00:11:02] Jen Allen: Oh a hundred percent. Yeah. I, I mean, when I sold at CEB, we sold like an annual research subscription. Like when you’re going through your list of stuff that you can cut, it’s like, get that out of here and it’s tough.

Right. And I think so how’d you guys handle that? Yeah, for me, it was, it was definitely a roller coaster because I kept trying to use the same things that worked in, um, you know, in a good economy and realized like that. It’s just not like it’s not doing anything. Um, what ended up happening is like, The, the thing that works to our benefit that we often under appreciate is in a market like this.

There is so much uncertainty and it’s not like, Hey, we know the right things to do. It’s just about executing. Like you get people who, I don’t care if you’ve been a leader 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, like. When you go into these uncertain times, like you candidly don’t know what to do, and it’s this really terrifying moment.

And for many leaders, it’s something they sit with independently. Like they can’t tell their boss. They’re worried because that’s not gonna signal a ton of confidence. Maybe they have a network, but maybe they don’t. And it’s, it’s a really, really tough spot to be an executive. And I think when you look at sales conversations, it’s why.

In that market. When we first studied challenger, people who were out there just talking about their product and their solution, how great it was, just fell off a cliff and people who were out there saying like, this is a really tough space to be in, to sell whatever you sell. Right. Like I am here because I notice that you’re doing this when in reality, it’s causing all this risk and cost over here.

And like, that is this, like, you know, when we talk about challenger, like we can be super, you know, researchy about it. But like, to me, The whole idea is like, how do you have a conversation with someone that they wish they had in the time and the day to have, or they wish they had the data and the insight to be able to have, like, how do you as a seller show up and help them with that?

Because candidly that’s where executives wanna spend their time. Nobody wants to spend their time at that level, looking at like solutions for the most part. I try to say, no, I try not to say nobody, but very few people like, like tell me about something I can spend money on. A lot of people are like, I, I need a safe place where I can be honest and, and express things I’m unsure about.

And you don’t get that right off the bat in a sales company, you gotta earn that. Right. Cause like, if it would be a creepy, weird world, if every executive just like took a sales call and was like, you know, what’s really scary for me. so it’s like that to earn it. You’ve gotta lead with something that’s like provocative and something that really is meaningful about the way they’re running their.

[00:13:24] Brad Seaman: Um, that’s really, that’s really funny. So I think the one thing that the, um, um, oh man, why am I gonna, I’m just like totally drawing a blank on my, on my favorite. Um, oh, okay. I’m I’m I’m good. I’m good now. So I think the thing that, um, the challenger uncovers. You know, you talk a lot about research. You talk a lot about providing insights and I think there’s, there’s a, there’s an insight that David Ogilvy made that I think the data supports.

So what he said was the good ones. Just no more. So, what he was saying is people, if you want to be the top, he was talking about advertising agencies. He’s like, look, if you want to be the top, um, you just need to know more than your client knows about their market. If you sell petroleum, you need to go to a petroleum plant.

Or if your client sells petroleum, you do go to a petroleum plant. You need to get all the manuals that you can, you need to read. All of, so like the ad that they did on rolls Royce, that’s famous that it’s like at 80 miles an hour, the only thing you can hear is the clock was the famous rolls Royce. He got that from the manuals that he read from the, from the dealer.

So he got all the dealer like, or he got the manufacturing manuals from the engineers. So this wasn’t advertising that he was reading. And he just read how you met, how you build a rolls Royce, like how they build it, you read through it. And one of the things that was in there was like, 80 miles an hour.

You, the only thing in the rules rush you could hear is the clock. And that was an engineering observation and they turn around, build a big ad campaign. But I think that’s what I think that’s what you guys really uncovered is that, that at the end of the day, people who sell and good economies and bad economies just know more, but that, but that’s, that’s a, I think that’s any mark, any, any good, anybody that’s good at something has to master the, the domain in which they’re.

[00:15:13] Jen Allen: Yeah. And I, I mean, I think it’s the really good sellers that I admire do it regardless of the economy. Right? Like that’s just how they win to your point. And I think what an economy like this does is it widens the gap, right? You learn very quickly who is capable and who’s not capable. And the thing that drives me absolutely bonkers is when someone’s like, oh, but they’re three months in, or they’re six months in.

They, they can’t know that yet. Like that is a failure on the organization. If you are not spending. A good chunk of time when someone comes into the business and teaching them customer acumen, like, what is it like for the stakeholder we sell to? And in a market like this. Like teaching them. What are all the things that are likely going off the rails that they’re not gonna wanna open up about that we’re gonna have to find a way to broker that conversation?

I think the other day, one of our, our VP of sales gave me really great advice and he was like, you need to be going into these conversations. And asking about how this market’s affecting the client and it’s uncomfortable, cuz it’s like we wanna protect ourselves from hearing. Like maybe it’s gonna be bad news, but the reality is if it doesn’t come out early, it’s gonna come out late.

And I think there’s all sorts of things that great sellers do differently. That’s another one is just making sure you’re asking the hard questions front so that you don’t invest a ton of time productivity and then have to let your business down with a forecasted deal that doesn’t close because you failed to just like.

Be open and talking about some of this stuff with your customers,

[00:16:31] Brad Seaman: you should tell your VP of sales. Nobody tells the VP or the chief of evangels officer what to do

[00:16:39] Jen Allen: from everybody. I’m like, what do I do?

[00:16:43] Brad Seaman: That’s that’s so see what he, like, see what he says. Uh, hopefully you don’t get fired. Uh, yeah.

[00:16:51] Jen Allen: Thanks.

I’ll be on your next, like, don’t looking

[00:16:55] Brad Seaman: for whatever you want. oh, okay. So let’s talk about, let’s talk about training. What’s the, um, so you kind of highlighted it. What’s you’ve been in a lot of organization. What’s a good sales training program look like. And how impactful is it to, to bringing on. Good reps.

[00:17:16] Jen Allen: Yeah. I mean, I don’t care what partner you work for. Obviously I work for challenger, I’m biased, but I think as long as your training program right now is focused on teaching sellers, how to behave in the conversation itself. That’s the thing I think really matters. And what I mean by that is. There’s a lot of great training programs.

I do not wanna knock them, but they focus on everything around the conversation. Like here’s how you have an account. Sorry. My dog is like wheezing. Um,

here’s how.

[00:17:49] Brad Seaman: For your model.

[00:17:51] Jen Allen: like, here’s all these related things outside of the conversation. And then what we do is we say, all right, seller, now go into the jungle and see what you find and good luck having the conversation. Like that’s a really terrible way to prepare someone for the types of conversations that they’re gonna have.

So regardless of who you work with, make sure the substance, the content that you’re teaching. Is really, really focused on the conversation, cuz that’s the part that gets hard right now. Like process. Great. We all need process. We all benefit from process, but what do I say when that person says we’re making layoffs?

What do I say when that person says you’ve been cut for my budget? Like we need to make sellers safe in that and not make it that that’s their first experience trying to figure out, like what do I say in response to that? And that, that to me is the most important thing right now. The focus on the conversation, what do you think?

[00:18:37] Brad Seaman: No, I think, I think that’s great. I mean, I think part of, you know, we’re working through, um, Our training, which is sort of what brought, kind of brought up the, the question mm-hmm . Um, you know, I sort of think about selling is a lot like, um, anything which let’s use, um, it’s summertime, so I’ll be doing a lot of golf.

So when you play golf, the most important thing is that your club is square on the ball for it to go straight. And so there’s lots of ways to hit it. Just like there’s lots of ways to. um, and when you’re not hitting it straight, then you gotta go back to the best practices and prac and figure out the things that, um, that work.

But if you’re doing something weird and the ball’s going straight, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to do that until it doesn’t work. And I think so when you bring on, when you bring on sales people, what happens is people that do weird stuff, get on the internet and say, everybody should do weird stuff.

And that’s that’s, that’s not true. Everybody should do weird stuff. If you’re everybody should just pick their own way to do this. And it’s like, no, no, no, no, no. Just cuz you have been successful in a unique strategy does not mean that everybody else should take up those same, um, kind of running gun decisions that we’re just gonna do.

What feels I think that’s real dangerous. So I, I do think it’s super important to when you bring a, uh, a person in that you try to create a framework and that you pick some kind of methodology that you’re gonna teach them. Because you don’t want to confuse them. And, um, there’s a book about creativity and I can’t tell you who the, uh, unfortunately I can’t remember the guy’s name, but he, he brought up some good points.

He said the book’s about creativity. I might have to Google it real quick, just so I’m gonna do one Google search um, on. Creativity book. I’m really struggling here and see what I get. We’re

[00:20:27] Jen Allen: the day after a long weekend. Like we, we are able to struggle.

[00:20:29] Brad Seaman: I don’t think that’s it. I think , I really appreciate your grace and kind.

I’m pretty sure that’s not it, but I think I just don’t it’s I don’t know too much. I got brain swell. I dunno. Um, but, um, but so in the book, the guy talks about how things are created. How we are creative and how we think about creativity. And one of the things that he said was that typically, and there’s kind of a couple different ways to, to create things.

But, um, a lot of times what happens is people copy and then they start making adjustments to the copy and then they create their own unique process. So they use musicians as an example, typically, great songwriters have, have learned to copy and cover somebody else’s material. then they start making their own adjustments.

Then they create something that’s totally separate. And, uh, um, is your dog on the mic? Is that your dog?

[00:21:29] Jen Allen: So they went nuts, so I just needed oh, like a

[00:21:31] Brad Seaman: gremlin uh, but, um, um, so I think the same thing is true when you train is that you need to create something. Hey, do this and copy. That’s why I think if you’re prospecting, I think script.

Who people get really mad. I think they’re important. Copy the script. Say it just like this. Then we’re gonna make changes. Then you can start doing stuff. If you don’t like this word or that word, let’s do this a hundred. Let’s talk about a hundred people and let’s do this one script. You’re gonna copy this.

You’re gonna do this. You’re gonna memorize it. And we’re gonna talk to a hundred people. And then after you talk to a hundred people, if you don’t like, and you don’t feel like this, or that’s natural, that’s fine. We’ll change it. You know, of the a hundred people that you called, we can call ’em up. We can call ’em all back in two weeks.

They’re not gonna remember. They talked to you unless you really screwed it up. If you really screw it up, they’ll remember, but you gotta really screw it up. And how forgetful people are is, think about babies. If you had a baby, if you remember how painful it was to have a baby, you’d never have another baby.

And so you just see all these people running around just like forgetful, like that’s how forgetful we are. Cause nobody would do that twice.

[00:22:32] Jen Allen: If they remember, and I, I love what you said, because you cannot figure out what is working and what is not, if you don’t have a control mechanism. Right. And like when you’re first starting out, it is not the time or the place to try to like, let me just blow up something and, and, you know, create something all on its own.

I’m huge for creativity. I’m huge for like, Finding your own voice and not just reading a script like a robot, but I agree with you a hundred percent that you have to understand, like, when I say X, what happens to be able to know how do I have to say it differently? And I think if you just leave it up to your people and you say, here are all the things that we talk about or here’s all the, the reasons our solution is valuable.

Now you go pitch, you’re really setting people up to fail. And it’s not to say that they have to keep saying the script. But I do think repetition’s important to understand how do I predict what’s gonna likely come out of my customers. I can’t do that if I’m changing every

[00:23:21] Brad Seaman: single time. No you can’t. And I, and I think what happens is, and certain personalities do this.

I know, um, I know that I’ve been culprit to it. Um, and so every Wednesday we have a, um, uh, we do live phone calls and we bring in a sales consultant and one of the sales consultants said, Hey, you can’t, every time you pitch, if it doesn’t work out, you can’t change. You gotta stick to it. You’ve gotta run it.

And then after a period of time, then you can change it. But if you’re changing, based on what everybody says, you’ll never come up with a script or you’ll never come up with a pitch that that’s gonna be worth anything. And the same thing is selling. Like whether you’re selling a meeting or whether you’re selling an actual deal, you have to come up with some consistent responses and try to figure out how you’re, what your response.

I say this, what are they gonna. Because if you don’t do that, you’re just, you’re just all, you’re just a windy salesperson. You’re just all over the.

[00:24:13] Jen Allen: A hundred percent. I think what I love about what you described too, is I think it’s, it’s another thing. I don’t see sales organizations doing enough, which is like that team.

Like we’re all gonna come in. We’re gonna make cold calls together. What, by, by not doing that, I think what ends up happening is then everybody has to individually learn the lesson. Like I have to mess up on a cold call to hear versus if I can hear so, and so said this, the customer said that it bypasses that step.

Now I learn not by my own failure. And I think that’s another thing. When you ask the question around, like what should sales organizations be doing now? As much of that stuff as possible, like having win loss conversations, talking about the losses, what did we learn? What could we do differently talking about the wins?

Like how do we navigate this in this economy? Like, these are all things that I think I see really great leaders just recognize, like we gotta come closer together on this stuff. Otherwise we’re all gonna learn the lesson individually. And that’s just a waste of everyone’s time.

[00:25:06] Brad Seaman: Yeah. I, I, so that’s one of my favorite things on the Wednesdays.

When we do these calls, we that. Um, they’re all done like together. So like one, guy’s taking a call, another, guy’s taking a call. You’re learning as they’re, as they’re happening. I, I wish more of our clients would do that. Cause I think it’d be really beneficial. Just get on one big call, make ’em all at the same time and mute out, you know, love it.

Like everybody else mute out while you listen. Yeah, yeah. Um, yeah, no, I think it’s so I think it’s so important, but it’s so easy. Um, I mean you’re on the internet a lot, so you probably understand like people. Grab random cliches and then spit them out if they’re as if they’re TRUS. And, um, I, some of the things that are said, I’m like, man, I don’t know that that’s true.

I don’t know that that’s true. Or like, uh, it’s like my, my, uh, my wife said when I told we were hanging out and I thought we were having fun, we had gone to dinner and I’m like, we’re having a blast. She’s like, except for, we’re not, like,

[00:26:11] Jen Allen: lemme go back and Craig, then I’m having fun. Yeah. I’m

[00:26:14] Brad Seaman: having. She didn’t drink. She didn’t too many drinks, so, uh, but anyways, yeah, same thing is, you know, you pull stuff off the internet and it’s like, sometimes it works except for when it doesn’t. So,

[00:26:27] Jen Allen: yeah. Yeah. And it’s it’s, I mean, that’s why I think like the messaging aspect of sales is so.

So incredibly important, like you could have the best product in the world. You could have the best service in the world, whatever, in, in these types of environments, you need to get to the point quickly and you need to make it so relevant so that the customers, the star of the story. And, and I, you know, I know we’ve talked about this on previous podcasts that the whole, like pain of same has to be greater than the pain of change.

The point you made earlier around, which I completely agree with where. People in these times, look to see what can we do ourselves. We have to put that at the forefront of our minds as sellers and recognize I’m not just competing against the next competitor. Like I’m competing against this customer saying, I think I can do it myself.

And I don’t have any evidence to the contrary that would suggest differently. Like some of the coolest messages I see are where the seller exposes. Like. Yes, you can do it yourself. Like doesn’t disagree. I agree. You absolutely can. Here’s what is happening as a result of you owning this, this big thing over here now fails, or this thing over here slows down because you’re spending time doing something you can do, but really shouldn’t do, but it’s not even the fault of our buyers, right?

Like. They’re all like trying to figure stuff out too, and they’re in a really crazy time. And so that’s why I think it really works when you a, are able to go into your point and know your customer’s business and know what’s the impact of them making that decision to do it themselves.

[00:27:48] Brad Seaman: How, how many clients, this is a random question.

How many people sell products? Like I think of ourselves as being unique. Like we sell the product, like we are the client to the product we sell. Most companies are not that way. Like you sell a product that, and, and you’re kind of that, I mean, you guys might be kind of that way, but most companies don’t sell solutions that they’re actually clients for.

So we sell logistics software. We’re not a logistics company. We sell a finance software software. We’re not a bank. Uh, we sell revenue revenue. We don’t really recog. I mean, there’s just, you could just insert any, um, do you, do you think most people are that way? And so therefore it’s really hard to think about the client, cuz they’re not.

They have no se no, no. Like ground. I,

[00:28:31] Jen Allen: I, I definitely think it makes it harder. Right. And I think that’s why you see in industries like that, there’s so many subject matter experts or product engineers that support sellers on a call. Like we have it easy in the sense that like we do the job, we know what the problem, we don’t know the individuals take on the problem, but like we have enough information you could go in.

There’s not like a head of sales. I’d be terrified to talk to. Um, but you put me on the phone with a CFO and try to talk about a CFO’s challenges. Like that’s a lot harder of a hill to decline. And that’s where I think. To your point, like it is on the organization to help that seller understand the world of the CFO, forget about the product we’re selling them.

Like, and we skip over that a lot. It’s just like, here’s the thing that we do. And here’s why it’s helpful without thinking about the 40, 50 other things in that sphere that, that CFO would care about, that we are ultimately competing against.

[00:29:20] Brad Seaman: Yeah, well, it’s gonna be, um, it’s gonna be super interesting.

Just how things, uh, pan out. I don’t know if you know, we may have a market correction may not. I don’t. I think at the end of the day, can’t worry about that. I mean, you can’t control. There’s literally only one thing at your company that you can control is the people you hire. Everything else is like no control.

I mean, you don’t have, you can control which clients you bring on or to some relevance, or you can. Stop bad clients from being on. If they’re not good clients and you can, and you can pick the people that you work at your business, but everything else, you don’t really have a lot of control over. No

[00:29:54] Jen Allen: it’s.

So someone wrote this the other day, I asked this question of like, what would be the one thing you’d go back in time and tell yourself as a new seller and, um, oh shoot. His name is escaping now he’s a VP at Qualtrics and he’s Brad Seman. I know spreading. He was like, I would, um, have learned the lesson to stay between like a three and a seven on my mindset scale.

In reaction to events like this, meaning like when something bad happens, don’t drop down to a one. When something good happens, don’t go to a 10, like stay between three and seven. I thought that was really clever. I thought like that is true.

[00:30:27] Brad Seaman: No, I think that’s, I mean, you gotta stay between the mountaintops, right?

Cause if you get too high or too low, um, well, and I think the one thing that’s interesting about, you know, if we see a correct, you know, now we’re talking, if we see a correction, um, how many people are gonna be shocked. About their skills, you know, like you, everything seems, um, looked having the conversation.

What’s your dog. What’s your dog’s name?

[00:30:50] Jen Allen: That one’s Mugsy. Oh, you

[00:30:52] Brad Seaman: got two Mugsy Mugsy, Mugsy, bugs, Mugsy.

[00:30:55] Jen Allen: I wasn’t even after Mugsy Buggs and everybody thinks of this. I just thought he looked like a Mugsy. He looked like a Mugsy. Toby.

[00:31:04] Brad Seaman: So I gotta, I gotta tell you sidetracked. I can’t even, I can’t even remember what we talking about.

Bugsy bugs, the basketball player anyways. Um, oh, it’s so easy to forget, you know, I, I think the thing that happens here is people are gonna get checked. Because your skills, everything’s going good. I’m selling a bunch. I think I’m great. Right? The economy’s gonna adjust and you’re gonna see a lot of people that are gonna get confused because you’ve gotta understand that a lot of times, like guys having a conversation with, uh, with an employee who, who was saying, um, was really spending some time patting themselves on the back about how good, um, the business was doing and how that was a representation of their, um, Their effort.

And I thought to myself, I didn’t say this. I probably should have said it to ’em, but Hey, if we, if the economy changes and that’s not the case, are you gonna feel the same way? Are you gonna continue to, like, you can’t really use our success as the barometer for whether you’re successful or not? I, I don’t think I, I think too much, we look in the like, oh, we’re doing really good.

And, and, and, um, you know, I’m a big John wooden fan, so he talked a lot about this. Like he wasn’t trying to get the score, you know, he wasn’t trying. He wasn’t trying to win as much as he was trying to get everybody to be perfect, because it’s easy to be deceived when you’re winning that you’re doing the right things and you can do all the right things or you can do all the wrong things and get the right result.

And so as a seller, I think there’s other questions you have to sell yourself. You have to ask yourself, um, Besides, Hey, did we get the deal? The deal is not really. I, I don’t think, I think you gotta look at other things. Did we solve a problem? You know, how do we do the presentation? How did they respond?

You know, does, I mean, I think there’s a lot of things. And as I were talking, I’m sort of challenging myself with like, what are some of those things? What are some of the things that when you’re selling or good indicators of success that might not necessarily be. Contributed to the close. And I don’t know, I’m gonna spend some time thinking about that.


[00:33:01] Jen Allen: I mean, I, I couldn’t agree more with you. I think, you know, in, in situations like this, it becomes very obvious what is order taking and what is selling? Like, those are two distinctly different. I can be an excellent order taker and absolutely suck at sales. And I think there’s, it’s been interesting.

I’ve been in this business for a really long time. It’s it’s like usually like three to six months after any event like this. You start to get like an inbound flux of demand because it takes that long. I think for a sales leader to realize, shoot, we got a lot of order takers. And now that we have to go out and create demand, not just capture it or react to it, we we’re struggling.

And we don’t know what to say because we’re used to people saying they’re interested and when they’re not, we don’t know how to fix that part. And that’s like, I don’t wanna undermine it. Like it is a huge, huge difference maker. I think between a great order taker and a great salesperson is you gotta create the demand.

It doesn’t just exist for you to take. So

[00:33:55] Brad Seaman: I’m so glad we entered this subject. Cause I think this is a great kind of anchor topic. How do you identify the difference between an order taker and a seller? Because they’re obviously it, it, when you know, economy’s good, it’s hard. So what are some of the things that, or attributes that you’d say.

Um, you know, it’s like, uh, David Foxer, you might be a redneck if , but you might do an order taker if

[00:34:18] Jen Allen: yeah. I think you might be an order taker if you, I love this,

[00:34:22] Brad Seaman: all this do question.

[00:34:27] Jen Allen: If you are waiting for marketing to send you leads and you’re getting really frustrated that they’re not. Like I was one of those persons, so I can say it.

I realized like I was angry because I wasn’t getting the amount of leads I felt like I deserved. And then I realized it’s because there’s just not demand that exists. Right. And I could point the finger at marketing, or I could show up and do something different about it. And. Should we get leads as, as being in sales.

Sure. Like, I mean, that would make it a, a really easy job, but in those moments, like I think a true seller recognizes I’m not gonna get enough leads to sustain the type of, you know, growth goal that I have. So I’m gonna go out there and create it. And I think people who are creative and innovative at outbound.

Who realize there’s no like easy answer, but they’re willing to try different things and different channels. And just open-minded about it is one of the biggest signals to me, of someone who’s like a true seller, cuz they realize like it star, it starts and stops with me. That’s one.

[00:35:27] Brad Seaman: Any more anymore. You got, I know we’re on.

I know you’re on the, uh,

[00:35:31] Jen Allen: so a second one would be, um, how you manage in a buying group setting. So what I mean by that is, let’s say you get one interested stakeholder, whether it’s a lead, whether it’s you’ve created that outbound motion and they react to it. I think the other thing is like an order taker goes into those conversations with the expectation that everybody is on board and people generally want the solution.

And my job is to show up and talk about how it’s great the solution is. I think great sales people recognize that in environments like this, getting one interested stakeholder. Is nice, but you are nowhere near the finish line. And your job as a seller is to go in and surface all the disagreement that likely exists on.

Should we even be solving this problem or should be using that money for something else? Like all of those problems, great sales people show up and they have those difficult conversations and they’re able to be comfortable. In discomfort and uncomfortable moments and having that client debate with one another and facilitating that like that to me is another mark of someone.

Who’s a really, really good sales person. I think

[00:36:29] Brad Seaman: good sales people are comfortable. Maybe it’s the it’s like the mountain. I think good sales people are comfortable with, um, or have a little bit of faith to realize things are gonna work out. Um, things are gonna work out and they’re not so. um, you know, they’ll tell you, Hey, go talk to this person or that person, if they’re not a good fit, like good sales people know when a product’s not a good fit that you should go somewhere else.

I think ultimately the root of that is like that they, they have, um, they, they believe that things are gonna be better in the future than they are today. So we could talk about positivity or you could probably put all kinds of different labels on that, but I think you gotta be as a good seller. You gotta be comfortable with saying, you know, Hey, this is with a no, you gotta be comfortable with a.

Bad sellers hundred percent are, are always. And, and I think sometimes, and this may be service to service. Some of this is my observation from people who sell services. Uh, it’s service selling is hard. Cuz you can get your ego in your product. Really confused. Like are they buy, like did they buy me or did they buy the solution that we.

And you can have like a real identity criteria.

[00:37:41] Jen Allen: yes, you can. I mean, and like the research that we have done on what drives client loyalty suggests that like over half of it is them buying the seller. And so it’s like, but I go back to what you said before. You’ve gotta be very careful about not assuming that that’s what they’re buying. If someone came in, because they loved your product and really want your product.

And you are the person that facilitated that, that might make you a great order taker. If you were the person that took someone from saying, I don’t need this solution or service or whatever it is, and you converted them to saying, oh shoot, like I actually do really need it. And I need to go pound my fist on the table to get it.

That’s a SA like that is a true salesperson. And I think this is the environment, like as scary as it is, this is the environment where you just gotta experiment. You gotta try different things. And you gotta look to people that you admire, who you think are figuring it out and study them and learn them.

No, one’s gonna give you the answer to the test here.

[00:38:33] Brad Seaman: Who are some of your, you said you have some who are some of your favorite sales people.

[00:38:37] Jen Allen: Yeah. So Josh bran is one of my favorite favorite sales PLA people. Um, he’s amazing on LinkedIn, he shares so many practical tactical ideas. Like you can read his post, get an idea, go write an email differently off the back of it.

I, I, I’m a huge fan of people who write like that. That’s one. Um, two is the Bela Bero, uh, he is, he started a sort of death to fluff community. Um, and he works for GTM buddy. He’s someone that I think is like, My north star of who I would look to in a tough time, because he always has a different way of thinking about sales.

Sometimes it’s small things like he was on our podcast the other day, and he was saying, you know, when you do get in a live meeting, Um, one thing that people discount is when someone laughs and you look to see who they’re looking at when they’re laughing, I guess it’s like, it’s proven that like you look to the person you feel most comfortable with.

So you can start to observe what are the interpersonal dynamics of the people in the group setting just by doing that. So he has actually like a spotter. On his, um, virtual calls, cuz you can’t like if you’re sharing your screen, sometimes it’s hard to do both. And that person is literally taking notes.

[00:39:49] Brad Seaman: How do you do that? It’s like, I’m gonna look up at your look up at that. Like who I they’re gonna guess who they think I’m looking at. Yes,

[00:39:52] Jen Allen: yes. Yes. And it’s, it’s wild. Like things like that. I’m like, that’s a really small thing, but what we’re often struggling with in sales is like, how do you read your audience?

And so that’s what I mean about him. Like he’s always got like sort of really different ways of thinking big and small about things. So I, I really admire him a lot. Um, there’s so, I mean, there’s so many, there’s so many good people right now.

[00:40:14] Brad Seaman: Um, so I’m gonna ask you a couple for a couple more, but yeah, one of the things, so I’ve got a friend of mine that always says in a relationship, the person with the least amount of interest has the most amount of power.

And that’s so true in the sales cycle because the, you know, what happens in when we sell I’ll repeat it. The person with the least amount of interest has the most amount of power in a, in ALA, in any relat. And what typically happens is you’re selling to people who have the, are most interested in your product, cuz it has the most value to them.

And then you’re typically being shot down. The people that have the least amount of interest, um, are vetoing. It’s a CFO, it’s a CEO to know what’s going on. It’s some guy that’s been putting in this department to manage these. Marketers. And he doesn’t know what’s, you know, he doesn’t know what’s going on.

So I think that that’s very true when you sell is that you’ve gotta pay attention to who’s the person that cares the least about this. We always ask who cares the most, right? Who who’s this most impact? Who’s who’s this gonna make the biggest difference for, you know, when we go sell to this person, who’s gonna, we never say who just get, doesn’t give a rip who shut this sucker down a second.

Cuz they could just care less.

[00:41:26] Jen Allen: I love that. I’ve never thought about it like that way. And I think it is so, so smart. Cuz those are going back to my example earlier of the deal that I lost. It was the person who candidly cared the least. Yeah. Right. And it’s so it just takes that one. Powerful. No, to blow the whole thing up.

I love that breath.

[00:41:43] Brad Seaman: I was just sitting here laughing, cuz I’m like, Jen, who hates you? Who’s like totally gonna smash this. Like who just would love to see you like


but no, I think that’s so true. You spend a lot of time thinking about people who are gonna be. Who you’re gonna impact who, I mean, have you ever been in a sales training where they said, you know, I mean, think about the buyer’s table. We always focus on the person’s life. We’re gonna make the biggest difference for, we never say to ourselves who just could care less about this deal, and you need to spend your time trying.

We sort of talk about it, like, you know, tell me the buyer’s table. Tell me who has to be involved. Um, you know, is there anybody that, you know, um, you know, you gotta get approval from, but you never say just like, who cares the least, like who could just care less about I,

[00:42:46] Jen Allen: I think it’s an awesome question, especially right now to be just like putting into your process to say, like, just ask it.

[00:42:52] Brad Seaman: Yeah. Yeah. Um, anyway, but anyways, so any, any other buyers that you just real or sellers that you just really

[00:42:59] Jen Allen: love? Yeah. So I actually met this guy, um, Robbie Raja, uh, last week for the first time I had a bunch of people coming to me being like, you gotta meet this guy. He’s like so great. He basically is, um, he started off selling in finance and then he moved, um, completely changed directions.

He trains on storytelling in sales now. and I had him had him on the podcast last week. And I mean, talk about someone who just like, you know, you read body language. Like I was just leaned in the whole time. He’s fascinating. He’s so he’s one of those people that just like, it almost comes across like magical.

And then you real listen to him, break down how he does it. And you’re just like, thank you. Thank you for not just making this like so ethereal and hard to understand. So I really, really liked him and I. The thing, the reason I mention him as well is just because in moment in, in markets like this, the other thing we have to do is like a rational case for change is not enough.

Like you really do have to appeal to someone’s emotional sort of like decision making side, because sometimes they can look you in the face and be like, absolutely, it’s the right call. I can see the ROI. Yes, let’s do it. But I’m so fearful to go to my boss and ask for money when like these things are happening around us.

Repeat that

[00:44:08] Brad Seaman: quote. What was the, what was the quote?

[00:44:11] Jen Allen: Um, you said a rational. In times like these like rational decision, like rational cases for change are not enough. I, I make that, I made that mistake all the time. Like, well, you’ll get enough ROI of X and it’ll solve your problem. Right. But that person still has to go to someone, ask for money to explain why they want that money to go here instead of somewhere else.

And I think unless you really make a strong, emotional connection to that person, it’s really difficult to compel them. And I will say the last point on it. We actually studied a few years ago, we looked at, out of all the buyers champions who want what you have to sell. Like they, they actually really want it.

I think it was 49% of them would advocate for it. So basically. One out of every two will advocate and the other person won’t, which is insane. So they

[00:44:58] Brad Seaman: might want it, but I’m not gonna advocate for

[00:45:00] Jen Allen: it. Right. They’re not one and the same. And I confuse that a lot. Like they really want it clearly, their next step would be to advocate, but there’s many buyers who just don’t wanna put themselves out there.

Like, yeah, I’d love to buy it. I’ll support it. If my boss comes to me and asks about it, but I’m not gonna be the guy or gal that does it. That’s crazy. Like that person it’s kinda like

[00:45:17] Brad Seaman: referrals though. Like when, if you have clients that refer a lot of work to you. They refer work to you, regardless of whether like they’re just referers.

Yeah. And then there’s other people that doesn’t matter what you do to try to get them to do it. They’re just never gonna refer business. Yeah. Whether the intrinsically, I don’t know why that is, but some people just like to connect and some people don’t, um, exactly. So, well, this was awesome. Like, I always love having you on.

I feel like we covered so much good ground. I know we’re coming up to an exit ramp here, so we’re gonna have to hop off, but this was so much fun. I’m so happy for you. So congratulations.

[00:45:51] Jen Allen: It’s so much fun coming on here. I just love talking to you

[00:45:54] Brad Seaman: so much. Yeah. I love it too. We had great, great time. So thank you so much and we’ll see you again.


[00:45:59] Jen Allen: right. Thanks Brad.

With all the changes in the sales landscape, Jen Allen has had to adapt. Mistakes will happen, but by falling back on the tried and true Challenger methods, those mistakes won’t be as costly. Join Brad and Jen as they discuss the changing market, and what it means for salespeople and the Challenger method!

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