Our CEO, Joey Knecht joins Sales Paradise podcast host, Chandler Barron to discuss ways to navigate this unprecedented time of Social Distancing while trying to connect with customers. The pandemic has turned many business processes upside down – our customer’s process and ours. What is “Buyer Enablement” and how do we implement it? Joey talks about how we can still build relationships with our customers from a distance… without shaking hands.
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Chandler Barron: "Welcome back. Today, we have Joey Knecht. Welcome to the show, Joey."
Joey Knecht: "Thanks for having me. Great to be here."
Chandler Barron: "Great to see you. I know that we had talked a little bit before, and I know that you came to Nashville quite a bit. Have you bought a pair of cowboy boots?"
Joey Knecht: "HA. To be transparent, being at Omaha, I have multiple cowboy boots. Yep. And even though I'm a New Yorker that transplanted to Omaha, I still do. I love my cowboy boots. Summertime is a little warm. I've got shorts on today. But once it cools down, I'm pretty much in cowboy boots every day. So I'm with you on that front. Totally am."
Chandler Barron: "Well, yes. You know, we were talking about just like as of right now, we're doing the interview. We've had quite a few months of basically around the globe. Everything's just turned upside down, but especially for businesses and then sales reps, the B2B reps, especially the ones that were out doing face to face. Everything has changed. They're having to pivot. I know that you're working with a lot of companies. How do you see that things have changed?"
Joey Knecht: "Yeah, Chandler. It's amazing. You know, we work with a lot of groups that are in selling. Obviously, our primary clients are vice presidents of sales and CCOs. So I've had the fortunate opportunity to have hundreds and hundreds of conversations over the last six months as this environment has dramatically changed due to COVID and really just regulatory policies and states. And quite frankly, a lot of those aren't going to go away. And so we were kind of talking to them and just kind of thematically trying to understand the changes and, most importantly, the opportunities for these orgs. I mean, no doubt some are getting hit hard in a no handshake world, not being able to go into facilities, not going in and being able to do what was normal sales activities and conferences and lead gens and all this kind of stuff. It really was this opportunity to start to think about pivoting, right? And there's always the two ways you can kind of look at this. And I'd say, quite frankly, which I was inspired about, I would say a good 75 percent of my conversations, even though they were struggling, they were positive about redoing or rethinking how they're doing things to take it to the next level. Because I think after about month three, people started to kind of realize this is probably a new norm and this new norm is not going to go away. This isn't a flash in the pan. You know, I remember when COVID first started, some guys were saying and gals are saying, you know, within three weeks this should be back to fine and you can go visit your hospital, you can go visit this, you can start selling again. You'll be on jets every other week, like you used to be. That is not going to happen. And in some of these industries, I know your background in health care and we've been involved in health care, tech sales and other things. They're going to lock stuff down forever. I mean, in many other industries are locking it down and travel is going to be locked down. But one of the interesting things we found out, there were a couple of different thematic strategies that a lot of these sales reps and sales leaders were talking about as they're wanting to shift. And a lot of it had to do was how do we do real digital relationships? You know, some of them knew how to do Zoom. Some were doing kind of prototypical meeting software, but they were really struggling with how do we actually meet new clients and maintain and develop relationships with new prospects. And then, of course, this was equally as important to these organizations for their current accounts, like their current clients. Which, for many of us in sales, those are our Glengarrys. We've already spent a lot of money, already got them, and we want to maintain them. And so a lot of it came down to capital preservation. And how do we make sure we maintain our relationships with our current clients now? Because, quite frankly, let's cut the B.S. here. If you're going to generate new revenue in 2020, more than likely it's going to be with somebody who actually knows your organization already. Right. It's going to be very hard for a lot of your listeners and in any industries to really get net new revenue from brand new logos that didn't know him as of today. Very few are being able to achieve that here."
Chandler Barron: "Yeah, it's crazy as far as just how everyone is just kind of buckled down, like you said, is forced to get new solicitations and people see that as too big of a chance, because there's so much uncertainty. And you also mentioned the game is more of, you know, just trying to keep your client service to them and keep the relationship. And so, like, you're even talking about just taking the relationship to the next level. And it seems like almost that if someone's really prepared, they can use all this to their advantage."
Joey Knecht: "Well said. You know how it is when you're in hypergrowth, you're kind of out hunting, out hunting onto the next one, onto the next one. Some part of this thing, COVID or the reset or the new norm. It kind of led a lot of sales leaders and sales reps to kind of rethink. I'm sure you saw when it first started, I actually was on some other podcast and did a webinar on right away when things really slowed down, like really slow down, no one was answering a phone or anything, right? Like everybody kind of had a real family reset. You're at home with your loved ones, right? You're rethinking things. And multiple CEOs and CCOs I talk to, they're like, you know, I'm really talking kind of meaningful conversations with our clients. I'm not just like, hey, Frank, how are you doing? It was like, long conversations and deliberate. And they're like, I really like this relationship and I wish we could be like this always, right? And it's scary to say that, right? How could one think like that? And it's ironic. I mean, we have a platform for obviously B2B sales. But that was really always the premise is that in B2B sales, definitely non-commodity, if you're selling something that is complex and dynamic, it's going to have multiple people on the selling side, and you're definitely going to have many decision makers and buyers. So how do you develop meaningful relationships and communicate with them and maintain those communications, especially now when you know that you're not going to probably ever meet them, maybe ever in two years, maybe in three years? And so that's been a big shift for groups, is rethinking their relationship strategy on obviously their current clients, because that's the most important. And looking at their account plans and saying, how do we activate these account plans? What do we do to get in front of these clients when we're not going to be able to get a board meeting with them? We're not going to be able to get there to that. And then looking at how does that affect new business development, I'll tell you Chandler, one of the things in a lot of the conversation I'm having, at least with CCOs and others and for your listeners, maybe they're thinking about this or can apply. But a lot of the CCOs they're thinking about, OK, first thing, maintain capital preservation with our current clients. Let's make sure our current clients are good, healthy. We have multiple relationships within that company because there are some furloughing going on. And if you're looking at your book of accounts right now as a sales leader and you only know one person in that account, it's now time to figure out your activation strategy, to get account based and and to know more people, protect the House, protect the revenue there. So a lot of the sales teams are redirecting their energies to current account, right? Because you can get them on the phone a lot easier, the new business. So that's tip one. Activate that, get going on that front. Right tip to then they're all saying, oh, it's OK. Now, if we feel pretty good about that, how do we start to leverage maybe referrals or relationships from our current clients and activate new business sales? But it's a different kind of new business sales. It's much more just a high level relationship development, empathy based, really getting to know them just on a very high level, knowing that,more than likely, there's not going to be a transactional opportunity here for you in 2020. But this is going to be the shift for you in 2021 and 2022. I can tell you confidentially, I was talking to another CCO $1B group, very, very successful. They had to adjust their numbers and their size. He's like, 'Joe, here's my military plan to do this, protect the house and then we're going to go build a ton of relationships, start to develop those.' And he's like, 'I know it's hard for a lot of people to understand, but I'm working on 2022 right now. And I said, 'That is awesome thinking.' First of all, I love the spirit of it because none of this is fun. Nobody wants what's happening to be happening. But ultimately, you've got to put the fight on and how can we get there? And I just really was inspired. I was inspired by him. I'm an energetic guy. And I was like, I just love that kind of talk because it helps you reset your mind, right? You got to rethink. Like, I think when we talked in previous conversations, it's about pivoting your mind, right? It's either negative or positive. And I'm not saying there aren't bad things happening. Everybody knows that. I'm talking about how you approach the day. If you approach the day like, I have an opportunity to do this, I have an opportunity to continue to grow our company or maintain our employee count today and make our clients more successful. That's what it's all about. And in today's sales, it's not about slinging and brochures and trying to hit a quota necessarily. It's about being empathetic, understanding the challenging circumstances, more than likely lot of your clients are having and build that trust and relationship. We all know that's what sales is, is really strong relationships, and that's going to be beneficial to you and your organization for the next five years."
Chandler Barron: "You mentioned to, that's a really good point as far as being empathetic. Because when you're calling on these people, even if you get them on the phone, you don't know what's going on at their company as far as like whether they're worried that they're going to get furloughed, whether their best friend or what. You just don't know what they're having to juggle."
Joey Knecht: "They've got kids crying in the back and, you know, people are apologizing. You're like, shouldn't be apologizing. That's what it's all about, right? And yeah, like you said, it's not only them, it's their loved ones, husbands or wives. Then do they have older parents? And how are they thinking about that? I mean, it's very few and far between when there's a commonality across everybody all at the same time, right? Like every once in a while you hear a coworker say their friend's dad got cancer, or a mom got cancer, or was in a car accident. They're kind of more transactional type of empathetic experiences. But when all of a sudden everybody on the same day all knows the same thing and every day is hearing the same thing, and it's affecting all layers of everybody's family on all levels, everywhere. I think that was the reset button for a lot of folks. It really wasn't about selling. It was about almost sharing energy and building each other up and understanding that there's a much bigger thing in this world than slinging software or selling, or hitting your quota, things like that. It was just, care about somebody and it's amazing. They'll care for you back. And what happens from there, who knows? And I talked to tons of folks that I'll never sell them, probably any of our software or anything like that. But that's great. That's OK. I feel like we had a positive impact. We're sharing good ideas and hopefully that are able to apply them for their business and again, ultimately make businesses strong because the economy here in America, we need it, right? We need a strong economy. We need the businesses to be doing well. So if anything makes you feel good about it, contribute to that. Hopefully the economy keeps growing."
Chandler Barron: "Yeah. And hopefully to, you know, whether or not this really passes completely or whether it becomes the new, everything is the new normal. Still, eventually, whether it's because of everyone adjusting or passing, we kind of went through it together. We're all stronger. Now, I'll tell you if something like this had to happen, we're fortunate that it's happening now regarding technology. I mean, you know, to be able to do like video chats with people. And it's just unbelievable, like even for schools, just for them to be able to [do video]. My kids right now are doing the video school."
Joey Knecht: "It's amazing. Everyone was saying it can never be done. And, all of a sudden, it got done. Everybody in America, all at one time. I mean, it's absolutely amazing, right, how much that came across. And the same thing is happening in business. The last six months or two a year has really been like a dog year. It basically collapse technology by six years for so many industries, including B2B sales, the one that we operate in. I mean, we have a very successful product called Engage, which obviously navigates B2B transactions and brings buyers and sellers together in an ecosystem. But, you know, obviously some of that was still bleeding edge technology and concepts when most people didn't even know what Zoom was. And now everybody. My grandma can buy Zoom stock and she's like, 'I fully know what Zoom is.' It's mind blowing to folks now, right? So virtualizing sales and developing relationships online, we basically went from zero to a thousand miles an hour in the span of a month because so many people started to realize, this isn't just a short term thing. How are we going to really build relationships online and manage those relationships with our current customers or new business customers? Purely digital, purely virtual, sharing information, meeting resources, and all this kinds of stuff. Not just the meeting itself, but what about the ninety thousand things that happen in between meetings to build relationship, communicate, and share information? So for us, it's been timely awesome. But it's also been great to see so many industries and verticals that we thought might be really laggards and no way can adopt technology like my grandma or somebody like that, right? Somebody that you're like, no way they're going to do it, all of a sudden coming to the front of the line and being like, 'We're going to go hard core and really buy into this.' Because people are seeing the adoption of it and that it's not too bad, right? Like it actually is really good. You know, it's funny. Everybody talks about travel changing, right? Like, you wouldn't fly to go see clients. You know, you're in Nashville and I'm in Omaha, so us flying back and forth to each other were kind of bigger trips. And you might still do those trips. Where I really think, Chandler, the opportunity is is that a lot of those medium short range trips, where you're gone for an hour and a half, just back and forth in meetings and doing all that, the transaction number of those is exponential. That's way more of your time. And think how much more you can do now and communicate with people. And so the use of technology is really hitting every single vertical, every single segment of buyers and sellers. It's crazy."
Chandler Barron: "Well, what can, whether it's a sales rep or a sales team or an organization, do to really prepare or pivot?"
Joey Knecht: "Yeah great questions. So, you know, in conversation with all of these CCOs and of course, many of our clients across the country in varying verticals, we really summarize this down to what we're seeing right now, definitely over the last six months, really being amplified up are these four shifts. The first one is transparency and this kind of parallels with our empathy, right? So authentic relationships. And so as you're communicating to clients, whether you're doing that just on the phone or through a platform like Engage, it's sharing meaningful resources, it's sharing things to help their business be better and being completely transparent in the relationship. Not hard selling, being empathetic, sharing information, really being a resource for them right now. And that's really what people are looking for, is being a resource. So our tip there on that shift is just be a resource to people, be transparent, be empathetic, flip the cards. If someone was calling you, how would you want to be treated during this time? Like you mentioned, who knows what's going on in your household? So the first shift we've seen is this transparency concept. It's really, really affecting sales. And I personally, I know from previous conversations you, in a good way. That's when sales is. It's relationships. Stop, stop hard selling. Stop 'shamwowing' just get to understand people and they'll navigate you to the right opportunity, whether it's with their organization or another organization. Be authentic. Be transparent. Because with technology, that's going to be a key of coming across as transparent. You're not going to be able to shake their hand and take them out to dinner. A lot of things there, obviously trust and trust building and consensus. The other thing a lot of groups are going to have to work on and deliver correctly through digital, is stakeholder centric relationships. What I mean by that is, in a virtual relationship, different than being able to sit maybe at a dinner table or a conference room or an environment where you have multiple stakeholders all at one time, it's very hard to get all these people now, together because they're very busy all doing things. So during sales, it's disparate now. In our platform, we're able to bring everybody into a deal room environment. We call them workspaces. But then you can communicate to the different interests of the people, the buyers and the non-buyers. So the CFO wants this kind of information. The compliance officer wants this kind of information. The internal champion can share stuff with others on the team. You have to rethink how you're going to disseminate your value prop and your business case to the key decision makers. And it has to be in a terminology that they can embrace and understand, because you're not going to get many chances. We like to say, what are they saying when you're not in the room? How do you achieve that? And that that's a big challenge for a lot of firms. So stakeholder centric relationships, right? Real key. The third shift we're seeing is, and some of the listeners, I'm sure, are aware of this or have been affected by this in the past. It's really death to the one and done and swinging for home runs here. What we're seeing is a lot of companies risk adverse right now. A lot of unrest and uncertainty. So from a sales rep perspective, you've got to be thinking long game here. You need to be thinking about how can I build relationship? And this relationship might not transact to opportunity for 12 months to two years. I think earlier in the podcast, I was saying think about 2022. How do you start thinking about how to develop and maintain long term relationships right now? That's really the game. And stop worrying about swinging for the fences, signing a $250,000 or $1 million contract today. Try to identify their bleeding point right now. And maybe that's $20,000, $10,000, $5,000. Or guess what? Maybe it's free, just because you know the answers already in your corporation. You can do that and you have resources to make that happen. Help a brother out, like I always say, like help a brother out, like call them, help them out. That goes back to the empathetic. Give them some ideas. Help them out, right? Help a sister out. Doesn't matter. Help them out. And that will transform the relationship moving forward. But then again, what that brings in to the challenges is maintaining a long sales cycle in a relationship, right? So you've got to have an environment to do that because that's going to be challenging. And the other thing that we're seeing, which shouldn't be a shocker, I'm assuming, Chandler we didn't talk about this, but I'm assuming you use Netflix, right? I don't think there's a single U.S. person who doesn't. But the last shift is on demand. And I don't think anybody has to know that this environment now has completely switched everybody to on demand. So we can't think sales is any different."
Chandler Barron: "It can't be like Blockbuster."
Joey Knecht: "Right. It can't be like Blockbuster. They should have learned, right? And also a lot of people have unique working environments now, right? They're at home with their kids. They're home schooling. Their husbands/wives are working at home. So they're consuming a lot more information on demand when they can. So you got to provide an environment for them to be able to consume that information on their schedule, in their own time. In our data, this isn't just a hypothesis. This is supported substantially by statistics and analytics in our platform. As far as consumption rates, we're Central Time. So I look a lot in the Central timezone, 5-8 p.m. Central Time, of course, normalize that for your time zone and then weekends and Sundays at night. The people are consuming sales information and relationship information completely on demand. And again, that shouldn't be a shocker to a lot of folks, but it is to a lot of folks. And when you kind of connect the dots, when you're like looking at your phone and looking at your Netflix tonight and doing all that, why wouldn't you consume sales and relationship information in that way? So I like your listeners to think about it from that perspective, how they're doing their sales. Remember, just calling in the middle of the day thinking that's relationship development is not going to get you there. How do you use video? How do you share resources and provide that in a way that that person on the other end can consume that on their own schedule, when their kids are in bed or they're not even up yet, as we all know, right? And you've got that precious 30 minutes of time, right? I mean, that's really the world we're living in. And it's only been amplified when half of the workforce isn't even going into the office. So those are the four big shifts we're seeing, transparency, stakeholder relationships. And remember, being targeted to what you're saying to folks, death to the one and done. I always like to say, I know it's a good sales podcast. This is lifetime value, care about the LTV and your customer acquisition costs don't destroy it. It might be a little high, because you're bringing them in at a low price or for free or whatever it is. But remember, the LTV is where it matters in the long run. And so that's real key on shift three. And then, of course, shift number four is just really the on demand. And it's just it's a no brainer, but it's been amplified, obviously, with everything that's been going on."
Chandler Barron: "Yeah. Because it's not just us in sales that are having to pivot. They're pivoting also, you know. So they need it more on demand than they've ever needed."
Joey Knecht: "Exactly. And this really applies as a sales leader and as a sales rep. This is really on both sides of your equation. We're seeing this substantially in MBD and we're seeing this substantially, obviously, in current account. So your current clients, activating your account plans and growing them and maintaining relationship. So it's really both sides. Some sales leaders kind of own both numbers. Many don't, just depending on the firm. But it really is both sides of that equation."
Chandler Barron: "And for the listeners that are too young to remember the "shamwow," he referred to that earlier, I'll put some kind of link in the show notes."
Joey Knecht: "Yeah, I do use a lot of those kinds of terms. Me & you, I think we have a few years under our belts here. You know, I even say like Rolodex and things like that. I hope some of your listeners know about that. I mean, it's amazing what some folks, I did the 'same bat time, same bat channel' the other day to a group, which was the old Batman TV show. And they went to a dead crowd, like no one knew what I was saying."
Chandler Barron: "So most people won't even know if you even refer to a payphone, you know."
Joey Knecht: "Exactly. Exactly. It's awesome."
Chandler Barron: "Yes. Well, it's been great being able to talk to. So just to close out also, just ask a couple of different questions, too, just for the listeners. Is there any type of piece of technology, you know, besides your product that you just feel like, OK, this really is something I'd love to recommend?"
Joey Knecht: "Yeah. And really, our platform delivers a lot of video. But I'm really just coaching people up here. If you have the ability to leverage video in some sort of way, shape or manner during this period of time, it really resonate with folks. Again, with being on demand and those types of things really, really resonates. We use, obviously, a really strong CRM and support tracking all of this. Because, again, this is long term play and you're really going to have to have your ducks in a row. And then, of course, our product Engage for actually doing the relationship management. I encourage, if you're trying to start small in your little shop and you're just trying to figure out how can I get incrementally a little bit better on doing something, a drip video or any of the simple video products that allows you to engage with customers or prospects. That way is a great starting point. Then when you're starting to look at more complex B2B sales relationship development, that's where obviously a platform like ours comes to play."
Chandler Barron: "And you guys integrate with the CRMs?"
Joey Knecht: "Yeah, we integrate with all the key sales, all the key CRMs. That's a big value point of us, is providing the buyer experience is what our platform does. We call it buyer enablement instead of sales enablement, because so much of our platform is the buyers actually doing things and collaborating and doing things within the platform."
Chandler Barron: "Well, Joey, what's the best way for people to get in touch with you?"
Joey Knecht: "Sure, yeah. The best way is they can go out to our website thats www.proteus.co. And from there we got tons of white papers, insights, webinars, and things about how we really see, what we call 'the shift to Buyer Enablement 2.0,' which is basically Sales Enablement 2.0. Everything is shifting to the buyer's experience and we've done a lot of research on that and have world class companies proving it out every single day that the buyer now controls the sales process. Then the sales rep is now a consultant to help navigate value to them. And not only that, but it's how many people are now involved, right? The average sale now has five people on the selling team and anywhere from 15 to 25 people on the buying side. And so many stakeholders. How do you bring them all together? You got to have an environment to do that. And that's really where we knock down the park. So we have resources and free tools and tips for your listeners on how to knock that out of the park. And of course, if they're interested, I'd love to have them talk to a member of our team."
Chandler Barron: "Sounds great. Thanks so much."
Joey Knecht: "Awesome. Appriciate it Chandler."