Episode TwoHundredTwentySix

To Differentiate, Focus on Your Sales Process

Guest: Joshua Stalnaker, VP of Inside Sales at Amplify

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About This Episode

It’s the one thing you have to get right along the way — a sales process.

How you’re adhering to the buyer’s journey.

How you’re adhering to your market and your product mix.

Recently on Sales Engagement, I interviewed Joshua Stalnaker, VP of Inside Sales at Amplify, about hitting quota every year, year after year, by building a sales process that doesn’t lose.

“It’s the journey, not necessarily the destination,” he said.

Joshua shares his team’s overall sales process and the ideal outcomes for each stage. 

The components of a winning sales process 

Here’s the overall sales process map. We’ll be diving into some details for the highlights.

  • Research & targeting
  • Hunting & prospecting (a.k.a. “savage discovery”)
  • Positioning
  • Presentation
  • Piloting
  • Commitment
  • Followup

“With my team, there’s a few baseline things when it comes down to our primary objectives — the overarching theme out of our sales process,” Joshua said.

Pardon the sports analogy, but…

“We want to create a competitive mismatch with the other sales rep,” Joshua said. It’s strategic positioning of reps based on how the sales process sets them apart from everyone else.

That, and focusing on lasting relationships instead of making a transaction.

Best practices for the sales process

Research, research, research

In the education industry, Joshua and his teams do a ton of research. 

“Who are the 5 to 7 folks within this district that would have a say-so? Who will directly and indirectly influence a decision?” Joshua said.

Researching on social media is definitely a component, but it’s more about finding the little things that make them tick in their industry (such as their views on different learning styles or virtual learning).

Questions to ask at this point:

  • What topics pique their interest?
  • How can we start a conversation that provides value?
  • What can we send them that would help them out?

“Right now, it’s give, give, give, give, give,” Joshua said. “Give them some ideas, give them something that may not be on the top of their radar.”

Why “savage” discovery

There’s no denying that you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.

Well… on the other hand, there’s no need to waste your ammo either.

When your discovery is savage, that means you’re getting as targeted as possible.

You know who your ICP is. You aren’t spending your time on the wrong people.

Particularly in the education industry, there are some prospects who won’t buy your product no matter how ideal of a solution it seems.

“We want to win every deal,” Joshua said. “But at the same time, we need to be focusing all of our best energy with the best opportunities.” 

That’s how you have a strong, hyper-focused sales team: they know who they are and who they’re not.

“Once we identify those two things, they can get after it and get to work,” Joshua said.

Self-discovery methods

Ideally on a discovery call, the rep can help the prospect discover that they have a need — or that they need to make a change.

Someone with a good question strategy can help identify areas the prospect may have a challenge with or help to get decision makers on the same page about the fact that change is necessary.


  • Who needs to be part of that change
  • What the obstacles are to influencing other team members to make that change
  • How to partner with them in the steps of the change journey

That last one might include tips on ways to start key conversations or navigating things diplomatically.

Joshua praised his veteran sales team for being able to help potential clients forecast their needs. “We can identify problems that they may not be able to see,” he said. “Little things like that help savage discovery.”

One other thing that shifts the response time is the communication style of the rep.

Here’s my cell phone, not my work phone — that kind of thing can galvanize the relationship and truly make the rep a partner, not just a vendor.

Positioning outcomes

You can’t reasonably get to know everyone on a committee of 10, even with a long sales cycle.

Here are Joshua’s best tips for some small things that make a big difference:

  • Get to know the “mediator.” If the person who has your cell number is the one who has contact with all 10, you can reach everyone.
  • Identify sympathizers. Get on a call with the members who are most open-minded about change and listen closely to what they have to say from the perspective of their different roles.
  • Find resistance points. When speaking to those who don’t want to change, find out why they feel resistant and bring their concerns to your sympathizers or the ultimate decision maker.
  • Keep in touch. Be sure to reach out continually with personalized emails, calls, and items of value (“I just read this article and thought of you!”).

“Once we get an ultimate decision maker and a few champions on our side inside that committee review, that’s when things really start taking off,” Joshua said.

Joshua’s 3 takeaways

  1. When researching and targeting, focus your best effort with the best opportunities. 
  2. When prospecting, make sure that you’re aligning your sales cadence to your best product market fit.
  3. During savage discovery, have a question strategy that is well thought out and pays attention to the details.

Get in touch with Joshua at LinkedIn.

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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