Episode OneHundredEightyThree

Part 2: Throw Out Your Pre-Recession Message & Create a Fresh One

Guest: Todd Caponi, Founder and Speaker at Sales Melon

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About This Episode

82% of us seek out the negative reviews first.

In other words, we mostly ignore the 5-stars and scroll down until we see some 2-star reviews.

A 4.2 to 4.5 rating sells better than a 5.0 — that’s psychology.

Today’s podcast guest is Todd Caponi, author of The Transparency Sale. We’re so excited to talk with him about coping with a recession.

Todd used his interest in human behavior to analyze our attraction to negative reviews.

“I started thinking about it from a B2B or human-to-human selling perspective,” he said. “If our brains are wired to seek out the negatives first, what would happen if we did that  in the human world?”

His findings were that the sales cycle sped up. 

“The point is that when we only see ‘perfect speak,’ whether it’s five-star reviews or salespeople leading with perfection, we’re wired to not believe it,” Todd said.

Selling transparently in a pandemic

Todd has expertise selling through recessions (he won an award in 2009 for doing exactly this). 

“When you think about what’s going on in the world, part of it’s transparency, but part of it is just behavioral science and mind reading,” he said.

  • Everyone is tightening up their discretionary spending.
  • Everyone is reevaluating their essential spending.

Another way to interpret these two points is this:

  1. Cost reduction
  2. Risk reduction

“We know that we should be optimizing our message around those two things — extend the runway on essentials and reduce risk,” Todd explained.

Redo your messaging

Another aspect of behavioral science during a recession is that revenue growth gets dumped into the discretionary category, like buying a new couch.

Get rid of the revenue growth language in your messaging. “If your message is, ‘Hey, I can triple your revenue,’ you sound like an idiot,” Todd said.

Start over completely with your message. Share who you are right now, recession and all.

Optimize the journey

Here’s where transparency comes into play.

Downmarket buyers won’t spend time on any organization that makes buying hard, evaluating hard, signing the contract hard, or implementing hard. 

They just won’t.

“You’ve got to optimize the journey, and one non-obvious way is to lead with your flaws,” Todd said.

Present both the pros and the cons. That way, your buyer has all the information they need right there.

(No homework required.)

Focus on trust

If you deliver a contract that requires 60 days’ notice or auto-renew language, you’re eroding trust. 

It looks one-sided towards you, and nobody wants that.

Think about your customers as neighbors. 

“If you had a neighbor who was in trouble, if you had something that you thought might help them, would you at least share it with them? Of course you would. That’s how we should feel,” Todd said.

If your contracts or your selling style or your offerings can’t pass the neighbor test, you need to throw it out right now.

How to pivot on a dime

Todd was teaching reps at a company in the security space.

He tasked small groups to answer this question: Endpoint security. Why should I give a crap today?

“They came back in 15 minutes with these incredible message points that they could make the highlight of their outreach,” he said.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s endpoint security or widgets. Find out who will care today about what you offer.

Through the last downturn, Todd was VP of Sales at an engineering data company. 

“It took an hour in a conference room to figure out what is our shift that really hits to the core of what companies are waking up every morning worried about,” he said.

It’s not that hard.

What do you do to truly help reduce costs and reduce risk?

That’s your message now.

What the pandemic will change

Isolation is hard on sales and on leadership. 

“Leadership has always been a bit of a lonely role,” Todd said. But now we’ve dispersed our teams to their homes.

“We’ll take loneliness there and then we put you remote — in your house all by yourself,” he said. “Now you’re really lonely.”

Todd said we need to acknowledge the risk of anxiety, depression, drug overdose, and suicide. 

“We need to make sure as sales leaders that we can share our anxiety, share our  feelings, share the ideas around what our strategies are going to be with somebody in a safe environment,” Todd said.

He reached out to his clients and former coworkers to tell them he was a person they could just talk to, share some ideas, discuss problems.

Todd received an amazing response. “I sent out five notes like that. Within a half an hour, I had four CROs reach out, going, Todd, yes, when can we talk?”

Every sales leader right now should look for someone to talk to.

(Hint: Offering to talk to others will reduce your own loneliness, too.)

One-on-one connection is essential for us as humans. Neurologically, our awareness goes up and creativity goes down when we are lonely.

“We’ve got to seek ways to make sure that we remain connected at work. Connection drives engagement, which drives decision making and creativity and all the things that you want in a good leader,” Todd said.

Connect with Todd on The Transparency Sale blog and on his LinkedIn. Be sure to mention that you heard him on Sales Engagement.

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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