In this episode of the Sales Hustle Podcast, Collin Mitchell welcomes Steve Richard as he shares about the areas where a lot of sales folks are having a bit of trouble: Prospecting messaging, testing across channels, and cold calling sequences. Let’s hear from Steve how suspending your personal judgement and bias then testing and measuring new ideas can turn things around.
Steve Richard is the Chief Evangelist and Co-Founder of ExecVision. A conversation intelligence platform that is built on a simple, almost inarguable premise. It aims to improve performance by changing human behaviours with insights-based sales coaching and applies it to uncovering actionable insights from customer-facing conversations, allowing organizations to make better decisions, coach and develop their team at scale, and ultimately generate more revenue through performance improvement.
Steve just recently sold an award-winning sales training firm focused on prospecting, qualification, and discovery called Vorsight in which he co-founded.
You can follow and connect with Steve on LinkedIn and check out his huge library of “tip of the day”.
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Episode 114 - Steve Richard
Welcome to the sales hustle. The only no BS podcast, where we bring you the real raw uncut experiences from sales makers across various industries. The only place where you can get what you're looking for. Uh, your sales game today's episode is brought to you by sales cast sales cast helps sales professionals transform the relationship building process and win their dream clients.
[00:00:30] I'm your host, Colin. What is happening? Sales hustlers. Welcome to another episode today. I've got with me, Steve Richards. We're going to be talking about prospecting messaging, testing across channels, cold Colleen sequences. One of my favorite topics. Steve Richard is the founder of exec vision and Vorsight.
[00:00:49] And we're going to dig into these things that he loves talking about. Steve. Welcome to sales hustle. Thanks Colin. You actually sold Vorsight last week. Yeah, a company called acquire it bought the company bought, bought foresight. Awesome. Yeah. That's thank you. Thank you. So now I'm focusing on one, which is exact vision, but yeah.
[00:01:07] Excited to be here. Thanks. Yeah, man. You forgot to update the bio for me. What the heck?
[00:01:14] Um, before we jump into this topic, which I know we're going to have a ton of fun with, um, in a, in a, like to preface it with, give me the short version of your sales story, short version, uh, family business susceptible. Uh, I was a finance major undergrad. I didn't want to go work for my uncle. Jim had septic tanks.
[00:01:34] I couldn't get a job in New York as an investment banker. I went over 22. Like everyone in my class became investment bankers, except for me, not everyone, but like half. And then, and then I went into sales because someone's like, you're good at presentations. Maybe you should do that. At first, I was failing miserably, doing what we call sales development, that corporate executive board.
[00:01:53] But fortunately I had a hundred people around me that did the exact same thing. So the thing that I did differently is rather than fail and wash out, which I was about to, I was just about on a PIP performance improvement plan. Uh, I sat with the best people. I observed what they did, Collin. I did not judge.
[00:02:11] I was neutral and objective. And then I tested what I learned. And lo and behold, the stuff, the top five people were doing work better than what I was doing. And so then I said scrap all of your natural inclinations. So I was very much not a natural, I was not one of these kids that was selling lemonade to people.
[00:02:28] Uh, sales was something that was acquired over time, and then I came to love it. And then the patch I'm passionate about studying, buying, and selling, and then the sales coaching topic, and certainly prospecting. Mm. Okay. Okay. So, uh, you stuck with it, huh? Even after just getting, getting hammered for quite some time, about 60 days getting hammered.
[00:02:51] But again, the turning point was we had a leaderboard and the leaderboard wasn't digitized. This was 2002. There was literally like a. Thing on the wall and they would take this woman every day, Jennifer Hampton walk up there and she'd take the name and move it into a different position. And so you knew who the leaders were and the people who were in the top five were almost always in the top five.
[00:03:09] It didn't really change. So I was like, okay, look, what I'm doing is not working. I got to go do what there. And otherwise I'm going to be in the septic tank business because I also had 60,000 in school loans to pay off. So I paid my school loans off in like two years, two and a half years. I was eating ramen noodles, living with a roommate in my room.
[00:03:25] Like literally, like he slept on a bed up here and I slept on a futon mattress on the floor for two years. Nobody does that anymore. Um, but I got my school loans paid off. We started a business called. Outsourced sales development reps is the way we think of it. Now, outsourced appointment setting, it became a laboratory.
[00:03:41] So we got to test a lot and observe what's working. What's not, how did it change over time? All those kinds of things. And then we brought that into a exact vision where exact vision is all about what's happening in conversations. How do you use conversations for the purposes of training and coaching and helping reps get better at what they're saying?
[00:04:01] Because ultimately. That's a huge differentiator. You know, there are a lot of, a lot of companies where you say, what are your average reps do in terms of conversion rate, win, rate, revenue, whatever. And then what are the top reps do? And then you go, what's different. Like, do they get different leads? Do they have different territories?
[00:04:18] And when a lot of times law companies will go, no, it's all kind of the same. Then the only thing that explains it is what they're saying. But up until now I spend this black box. Nobody knows. Nobody knows what's there. So anyway, very passionate. As you can tell about this, especially top of funnel opportunity creation, especially about sales calls, the phone, zoom, things like that, and actually getting your, your, your message to me, your video to me was great.
[00:04:42] Very good. I don't remember what it was, but thanks.
[00:04:48] It was like a video sent on like a vid yard, I believe, or, or an, and you said, I see your content online. You'd be a good guest for my podcast, but like you, you knew something about me, which is great. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love the new, um, video card integration with links. Just absolutely love it. Um, but anyway, I love, I love, you know, what I love about what you've told me so far is how, you know, what you're so fired up about today really ties into like your, your origin story, your origin sales story, like being on the sales floor, you know, getting your ass handed to you for the first 60 days, figuring out what the hell is wrong.
[00:05:26] I need to be saying whatever those top five or six. You know, what are they doing that I'm not doing? What do they know that I don't know? And I need to get to know that or else I'm going to be working at the septic tank place. Can cryptic systems again, I mean, great, great business. Like it's a really good business, but I just wasn't for me, you know what I mean?
[00:05:45] I wanted, I wanted something different, you know, I can give you some examples of the kind of stuff I saw. That the average reps or the low performing reps would just call the name in the database, which at the time was a Siebel CRM. This is all kind of Salesforce was just getting going. And other CRM is of course, but call the name in the database.
[00:06:06] The best reps would go call executive assistants, switchboard operators, other people to find out. Who who was, who had turned over? What, you know, what, what new executives that come in, what people had left now, I was calling the CIO chief information officers. So you're asking about the senior most contact in the it department.
[00:06:24] And it had to be for, for it to count for my compensation at the time. It had to be senior most CIO level. Sometimes they were director of VP, but they had to be the top in the department and the company had to have 750 million in revenue or more. And I had to have an appointment that occurred back then 80% in person, 20% phone.
[00:06:46] So that's changed, right. That world's changing. Now, how many companies are sending an initial for initial discovery or sending out an account executive on an airplane? Uh, you know, so. The, you know, some of the lessons learned, finding the right people in the first place, even calling strange places like the it help desk, like why would you call the it help desk?
[00:07:05] Well, guess what they know who the top person is in it. And if you can't find it any other way, and if you're old database back and day, it was. Was all, it was never right. It was never right. You know, so you gotta figure out who it is, but the average people are 50 50 right now. We've got zoom info, sales Intel, which is, they're a customer of us love sales, Intel, seamless lead IQ and others.
[00:07:28] But back in the day, The data was pretty suspect. And honestly, even today, 20% of the time, you're going to find context. You didn't know it existed. So, and then direct lines, mobile numbers, the value of that, the value of sending emails during times when people wouldn't expect, you could send emails around the executive assistants, you know, we would go in on the weekends.
[00:07:48] So back then you couldn't send an email unless you were in the office. Like all this stuff that we take for granted didn't exist, but we would go in and send you emails on Sunday afternoons and coming on Monday morning and you'd have two or three appointments sitting right in your inbox where people said agree to a meeting, because if you send it out Monday morning at 10:00 AM the executive assistants there, they wouldn't even.
[00:08:08] And they would just immediately intercept it and delete it so that, you know, there was, uh, it is a little bit of a back, you know, a flashback to the past because the, the world has changed in so many ways. But so many of these old school tactics, he actually pulled them back. If you test them again, You find that actually perform really well.
[00:08:25] Yeah. But the key takeaway there is like thinking outside of the box, right? What are the top people doing that the average people are not doing? And, you know, do you want to be average or do you want to level up and, and be on the leaderboard? Right. And if you do find out what the people at the top are doing, and you know, don't just call the name of the database, don't just, you know, Send emails during the week, you know, like all of it.
[00:08:48] And there's so much technology and tools to now make these things a little bit easier. Um, right. But really testing, messaging, testing, timing, um, you know, getting going, calling people to just acquire information, to then reach out in a much more meaningful way. It seems, it seems so obvious. And now, now there's something you said there that's key, which is the and measure.
[00:09:11] So again, what I did. Suspend your personal judgment and bias. I can't emphasize that enough because cause I will observe salespeople, watching their colleagues, basically trying to figure out what the best people are doing differently and call them what they do every time. It's the same thing. Same thing in common is they go in there with all their head trash.
[00:09:32] They think they know what works. And then they question. So rather than shadowing for the purpose of acquiring new ideas, that you can then go back to your own laboratory and test instead. They're like, why would you do it that way? Oh, I don't think that's going to work whenever I start hearing think or feel.
[00:09:49] What do you, what do you feel about, how do you feel about this email? What do you think about that call? Do you think it's a good idea to leave voicemail? I don't think anything. I, I, you know, if you leave voicemails across a hundred prospects, two of them are going to call you right. I mean, it's, that's the data.
[00:10:03] I mean, you can get it up to 5%. You know, I actually put on my LinkedIn these little tips of the day, I even put up the exact voicemail we used, we used to use to get 5% callbacks in Vorsight, but that's, I think more than anything else, the hardest thing of all is the average sales professionals out there have to suspend their personal bias and instead observe.
[00:10:22] And then when you pick something up, you go, that's interesting. It's different. I got to test it for me. Yeah, and I think. Just even going deeper on like, what does testing mean? Right. Because you even see reps that are like, oh, I've tried that like video doesn't work or cold emails no longer working. Like I've heard these things recently.
[00:10:46] Right? And it's like, there's so many variables that dictate whether cold email is successful or not. You can't definitively say. Cold email doesn't work. Like, is your messaging good? Who are you targeting? What are you saying? Are you going all in on email and ignoring other channels then? Yeah. Emails, probably not going to be that successful of a channel for you.
[00:11:07] Um, so like it just in your own words, like what does a good test look like to test, you know, messaging or a specific channel where you can get enough data to feel like, Hey, is this working or do we need to fine tune this? Number one separate the messaging from the medium people, conflate the two and confused that all the time.
[00:11:32] So people are obsessed with the medium. So I always have people ask me what about it? What about SMS text? What about, and this is, you know, related to the top of the funnel, but honestly it could be anywhere in the funnel. It could be middlemen middle or bottom. What about the V sending a video prospecting message with like a video card or a drift or a bomb bomb?
[00:11:50] Like we talked about before. Yeah, but that's the medium. What about the message? Start with the message first. Get a baseline on a message. I just got off the phone with one of our clients. Okay. And now in their world, this is, they're very lucky either in New York, they, they sell this kind of research, uh, and round table product.
[00:12:11] Uh, and they're very lucky in that they have great email success. They are running, uh, you know, cadences or sequences as defined by to of sales, engagement vendors, like outreach sales law. Conquer, which is the one that we use, uh, you know, sales view. There are many of them that do this front spin, many other Zandt.
[00:12:28] We got a great partnership with Zam. They're running those and they do email only. And they're for every 100, they do, they get five appointments. That's amazing. So there's a big enough sample size. So when you hear the sales reps, like, oh, I tried that. It didn't work. I go great. How many times did you try it?
[00:12:45] They say seven. That's not a big enough sample size when, when we were determining whether or not the vaccine was effective, did we try it on seven people and then go, nah, it doesn't work. I mean, posture is, but, but this again, it's personal bias. You know what it is. Most cases they're lazy and they don't want to do it.
[00:13:03] And they didn't get the immediate feedback ratification. Then you get the immediate feedback of getting a couple of meetings from those seven. So instead you got to do it like a hundred times, 200 times, 500 times. I'll give you an example from a client, we had a client that tested LinkedIn, they use this kind of social selling formula.
[00:13:18] We teach, you have to connect on LinkedIn. They don't ask for anything. Then you share some content. Then you go for the meeting, but you go for the meeting as a direct message, not as an InMail when they connected on LinkedIn. 32% of the prospect accepted the connection request. That's awesome. That's a great number.
[00:13:36] You know, how many appointments they got? They did 270 0 appointments. They got zero meetings when they did the first three. Well, I stopped and said, so what's the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But now we know we have the data that based on this is the key Collin, what you sell and who you sell to.
[00:13:58] That doesn't work. What does work is the connection? So I said, moving forward, we know every single sequence cadence contact plan you create for the top of funnel needs to include a connection request because it works. And there's a lot of benefits to being connected. Once you're connected with the prospects, they will see your content.
[00:14:18] So if you post content on LinkedIn, they're going to see it. When they move from company to company, you get notified. That's. Maybe they're not talking to just because of their current situation, but the new company, they want to talk to you. So this was an insight of like, we never would have known that if the sample size wasn't big enough, so N equals 270 and not an equal seven.
[00:14:37] And if you know, we didn't see it through all the way through, and now we know to get the appointments, guess what they have to do pick up. Right. And that's what people, that's where I think people have that bias of like, well, I got all these connections, but I booked zero meetings. Well, you're not leveraging the other tools and channels that you have.
[00:14:56] If you're posting content on LinkedIn and you're connected with these people in your list, it's a much warmer. It's a much warmer, it's a different conversation when you actually call them. And you're always going to, I mean, in my experience, you're always going to book most of your meetings over the phone and email and LinkedIn are just going to make those warmer conversations.
[00:15:15] You're going to book some on email. You're going to book some on LinkedIn, but I, from what I've seen, as long as I've been in sales phone is always going to be the best tool for booking meetings. But those other channels can warm those conversations up sick. Amen to that. Now I'm going to give you something even more concrete that shows how it's not, people want to think of this as being aligned like a straight line with a thread.
[00:15:38] It's not, it's a braid. Think of it as a braid, all the different things work in harmony with each other to create a stronger fabric or a stronger, you know, rope. If you will. One of the biggest benefits of being connected on LinkedIn is about 30% of the time people include their personal cell phone.
[00:15:56] About 50% of the time they include their personal email addresses. So if you've tried emailing their work email, and if you've tried the data providers and they don't have accurate contact information, or maybe they have an office direct line, but not their mobile. When you're connected on LinkedIn, you click on the contact info and boom, there was their mobile numbers.
[00:16:15] So now if you have that and you put it in your CRM, the probability of then getting that person on the phone just skyrocketed, which means you can then deliver the message as in an actual real time conversation in column, this is just like lost on people. You know, what I mean is, is because it, because they get fixated on one thing, we're going to do bomb bomb videos.
[00:16:37] We're going to do video yarn. W in the context of what else? And then how are you gonna know if it's gonna work? You gotta measure it. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And then just to add to that too, uh, once you know, whether, whether you're connected or not, um, I love just saving them in a sales navigator list and, you know, having that, that feed of the people that you care about most and engage when they post there was another great one.
[00:17:01] When you have that save list in navigator, it's one of the reasons, you know, I hate spending money on LinkedIn. I got a confession to make. I can't see the changes they've made ever since Microsoft bought them are such that spending money really makes a ton of sense. The save lists, uh, the, the enterprise version lets you connect with your CRM and add the contact right to your CRM from LinkedIn.
[00:17:24] That's pretty slick. And then you'll see if they're already there. So you don't create a duplicate. Here's another one that most people don't know about with LinkedIn. They have a navigator has at the top. It's called Smartling. You know what I'm talking about? Smart links. So what you do is you put whatever content you want to share, you create as a smart link.
[00:17:42] And then when you send that link, which is a URL to anybody. If someone clicks on that link, they don't have to fill out a web form to access the content. But you get notified if they're logged in on LinkedIn, which most people are logged in on LinkedIn. If, if your buyers are logged in on LinkedIn, like if you sell to like janitors at public schools that probably not on LinkedIn, but probably most of the people listening, your prospects are active on LinkedIn in some way, meaning they're logged in on a daily basis.
[00:18:08] By default. So you'll get the information and they don't have to, your prospect, doesn't have to fill out a web form or that's a great thing to do when you send content. Mid funnel is send it via SmartLink. Um, it's a little bit of a better, you know, relative to the other solutions in the market. Because again, if they're, if they're already logged in on LinkedIn, they don't have to fill out a web form, less friction for the buyer.
[00:18:29] How do we know that we tested it? It performs better about three times better than just sending content versus old school. Because nobody wants to fill out a web form and then actually see who they are. You know what I mean? I can see someone looking at our co we have a call recording laws, uh, brief, which is a big thing for ExecVision prerequisite is people have to record calls.
[00:18:48] A lot of people don't record their calls because it's illegal. So we get this like two page PDF. It kind of walks them through what you can and cannot do and what companies are doing in order to get that they click the smart link and then guess who sees it? Um, I, I just learned something I didn't know about smart links, so I'm definitely going to be checking that out in common.
[00:19:10] I learned it from someone else before. That's what we do in our community. We help each other out. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I mean, I, I love that. I love saving people to a list because before they had that, I used to have all these people on a Google sheet with their activity URL, and it's like, Hey, here's the people that I'm now trying to nurture relationships with.
[00:19:28] And then, you know, a couple of times a week go in there and see if they post anything, engage with it. I mean, that, that was the old hack before that. So I love that. Any, anything else, any other, any other tricks you have up your sleeve with LA LA lots and lots and lots. I'll give you, I'll give you something very concrete.
[00:19:47] Um, this was an AB test. We ran with a guy named Connor. At a company called hip lead in the bay area. This was back in 2013 14 in group a, we did a generic sequence or cadence of email in group B. We did the same one. The only thing we referenced was the second degree connection. We referenced the name of a common connection and it was actually automated.
[00:20:10] I've got a pretty big network on LinkedIn. So sometimes like you and I probably have like 156 shared connections, the computer would just pick one or two. You know, so nobody had to think about it and, and it turns out your 563% more likely to get an appointment just by referencing a common connection.
[00:20:29] And, oh, by the way, it doesn't matter if it's an email or a call or a smoke signals. When, when there is a common connection, you're more likely to get someone's attention. It's actually brain science were the prospects in system one. You're trying to move them into system two. Mentioning somebody we know in common does the trick.
[00:20:47] I think again, I think you actually did that with me too. So again, these are the kinds of things that you, you know, most sales reps, they do that like three times and they go, it didn't work, go with a bigger sample size. When I was looking at the data with Connor, when this was done, the test was done and we had 112 and group B and like 2,100 in group a and that turns out it's a statistically significant sample.
[00:21:11] So if you really want to geek out and you want to go back to your old high school and college. This was statistically significant. We, we controlled an isolated, the other variables. That's a big part of testing, isolate the variables and just test one. In this case, the test we were running was the second degree connections work.
[00:21:27] And the answer is, oh yeah, big time. So then, then when you actually start working with people, you know what they say, they go, but I don't know that person. Do you think I knew the people on LinkedIn for the 112 that we sent? I don't know. It didn't matter. Again, personal bias, personal bias, leave it at the door.
[00:21:45] I don't care how you feel. I carry about how you feel about your family and your friends. But when it comes to something like this, as long as it's legal and ethical test and measure, and if it works better, that means you're not working at the septic tank business. I love that. I love that. Yeah. I mean, test, test a big enough sample size, you know, have an open mind, leave your bias, you know, out out the door, um, and test all these different things.
[00:22:11] And that's kind of the common theme. That, that I hear you saying today, Steve, and it sounds like you've tested a lot of this stuff already. So, you know, we we've, you dropped a lot of, a lot of examples here that people can start using, um, that you've already tested for them. That's true. And then you still have to do it for yourself.
[00:22:32] The reason being everything depends on what you sell and who you sell to. So we sell to sales leaders, VPs of sales, chief revenue, officers, sales, enablement, revenue, operations. If you sell to them, I can tell you pretty soon, it's a great degree of certainty. Some of these things I'm telling you are going to work, and I'd like you said before, picking up the phone is going to work the best lead with, we call it three by three research, three key points on the company or contact in three minutes of research, um, you know, talk about the, the topics and the trends.
[00:23:02] Don't talk about your product and your features. Like we know that kind of stuff. If you sell to. Uh, church directors, like we actually have clients that sell to church directors. It looks, some of the things look very different, you know, than they do in our world and the way that they actually go about their business looks quite different again, because they've tested it.
[00:23:21] So you gotta, you gotta, you gotta do that for yourself. You gotta do that for yourself. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I mean, all these channels work, but you know, depending on who, you're, who you're reaching out to, uh, how you reach out and what you say you're messaging matters and that has to be tested. Bang time, LinkedIn, for example, if you sell to mid-level or low-level it people, the LinkedIn is not going to be a great approach.
[00:23:44] The senior, most people on in it departments frequently are active on LinkedIn, but as a general rule of thumb, the kind of manager, analyst level folks at ditch. Yeah. Yeah. Steve, thanks so much for coming on today. Really appreciate it. Love this topic. Uh, tons of fire here for you. Sales, hustlers, any final thoughts?
[00:24:03] Uh, let people know where they can follow you. Find out more, any good stuff you want to share? Yeah. Yeah. LinkedIn, I do a tip of the day. Every day. Look sales as a profession has been really good to me. Like I said, I just sold my company foresight. You know, live happily in my, with my family of four in Arlington, Virginia, and I owe it to sales.
[00:24:19] I really do. Uh, so I like to give back, I do one minute tips of the day on LinkedIn, which reminds me, I got to do mine for today and I've got a huge library of these and they're just totally free. So I'll give you the link. Uh, people can go and look all the tips in one place, but connect with me on LinkedIn.
[00:24:34] And if it doesn't let you connect, follow, but then you can hit the three dots and connect with me anyway. And, uh, just, you know, check those out every day. It'll help all free. Yeah. Awesome. Appreciate it. And if you enjoyed today's episode, write us a review, share the show with your friends and as always we're listening for your.
[00:24:51] Thank you for tuning in to this episode of sales hustle. Are you a sales professional looking to take your sales career to the next level? If the answer is yes, then I want you to go over to sales cast.com, check us out. And if you feel that you are ready, set up a time to talk with me and my co-founder Chris, I'm your host, Colin Mitchell.
[00:25:14] And if you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a review. And share the podcast with your friends.