Brent Keltner, Author of Authenticity Wins
Brent Keltner, author of Authenticity Wins, joins Gary to discuss strategies for sales team to succeed and techniques used by top sales people to close more deals without acting pushy, shady, or unethically.
- Brent’s background story (01:22)
- Product and service AUTHENTICITY is important for your brand, marketing, and sales. (05:05)
- Personality type of approach (07:19)
- Marketing and Sales Alignment (10:12)
- Anchoring buyer value (13:03)
- Finding the right questions to ask and statements to make with clients (17:03)
To get in touch with Brent Keltner:
00:00:44 Gary Ruplinger
Hello and welcome everybody to another episode of the Pipelineology Podcast. Today I am pleased to introduce our guest, the President of Winalytics, author of The Revenue Acceleration Playbook. Brent Keltner, Brent. Welcome to the show.
00:01:01 Brent Keltner
Hey Gary, thanks so much for having me.
00:01:03 Gary Ruplinger
Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to this one as we were kind of just talking a few minutes ago about some of the topics here I. I think our community and listeners are gonna be really excited about today. But before we jump into all of that, could you just give me a little bit of background a little bit about your story before we jump into the topics today?
00:01:22 Brent Keltner
Yeah, yeah. My story we were talking about the PhD right at the beginning. My story is I started out life as an academic I worked at the Rand Corporation Australia, Stanford, work with the Rand Corporation. I did a lot of qualitative research and was also pretty good at selling stuff. And so, at some point after raising, you know, three and a half million in one year and I got a 5.5% pay raise rather than a 3.5% pay raise. I said there’s got to be a better skill set. Better place for this skill set, and so I went to work in capital in their higher education group going to the dark side his academic said and from Kaplan then went to Eduventures had a very quick success growing a new division went to CollegiateLink had a quick success. The CEO of that company exiting went to Plus Delta Partners up with our growth trajectory. There’s you know, develop this kind of growth methodology that we now call an authentic buyer journey and the funny thing about it is when I went to Eduventures, my first two revenue leadership role, I went to all my buddies in business. Tell me about go to market strategy. Tell me about sales strategy. Tell me about how you accelerate deals. I get back all these resources that were all about the product. Product positioning competitive battlecards pricing to close passers like where the heck is the customer in all of this and what they care about the most, so I went right back to the methodology I had developed the lead qualitative research interviews at Rand. I was working with business executives and the service industries. Insurance, banking, telecom. I was an academic trained by educators, so I wanted to develop a commercial persona. So, I would always just reach. Out with hey, you know This is why? What’s in it for you? Why do you want to do an interview with me? And I’d share examples of peers, other Chicago banks, other big telecoms we’re working with right to build social proof and build like so, you know they were interested. And then when I do that. Call I was always kind of quick to recap and understand what they were working on, what their objective was right and for human capital strategy. And I was always quick to at the end I’d send an email. Recapping what we talked about. If there are any next steps with their team. I took that and I then applied it with my go to market teams on. Basically, if you’re going to have calls, if you’re gonna have interactions with a buyer, always anchor beginning, middle and end on what they care about the most and you will get more engagement. You’ll get more velocity, so I took that qualitative research methodology. I turned it into a revenue methodology. I did it’s kind of intuitively in my revenue leadership roles before. At the end I was like, hey, there’s a method to this madness, so haven’t started a consulting firm called Winalytics. And now we’ve been doing it for dozens of companies and having great success.
00:04:24 Gary Ruplinger
That’s awesome, I guess. The rest is history as they say. Yes, cool. Well, I think I think that probably leads right into it. Then as we were kind of discussing with the authenticity thing as I mentioned on the on the Zak Stahlsmith episode, he talked about influencer marketing and we’re talking about authenticity and kind of how that kind of plays a role in your brand and everything, and I’m really kind of interested to talk about authenticity now as we get into that marketing and sales alignment and get into the sales side of things as well. How that all really helps so?
00:05:05 Brent Keltner
Yeah, I mean so we when we think about authenticity, we think the starting point is a posture. And a posture of service, right? It’s not about you. It’s about the buyer on the other side that you’re working with. Like where are they walking today? What are the things that keep them up at night? What it what would make them more successful? So, we think about think less about your product and more about how your product drives value for your buyers. And your customers in an expansion motion put him down into we column value plays. What, how, how does. Your product drive value for your customers that could be increasing revenue. It could be reducing costs. It could be building efficiency in your staff or your plant could be changing a user experience which builds more engagement. How does it drive value? What’s the evidence in terms of your existing customers? What’s the social proof, right? That you’re driving value. So, the point of connection for us is start with your buyers. Start with being service to your buyer and start with empathy. Empathy for your buyer. Then you gotta do you have to be a problem solver. Right, it’s really about not thinking about closing you. That’s the old world of selling. It’s about fit right? Where do we have the most fit, the most alignment? Whatever you call about it, where do I have a problem, I can solve for you or the win? The success on your side is big enough that you’ll do something. About it, you’ll take actions to bring others in. So, for us we think about authenticity. It starts with empathy it continues with. Problem solving that we are now we’re trying to solve a problem together. You have a business challenge. My product can solve, and it ends with this idea that end of inter, every interaction I’m looking for. How are we doing on fit? How are we doing on alignment, do you see the value? What actions? Will you take right, so empathy, problem solving and fit kind of replaces this old world of I’m going to pitch to you. I’m going to kind of prescriptively tell you what the right solution is, and then I’m going to close you down around that solution.
00:07:13 Gary Ruplinger
Kind of that old, but that old, charismatic salesperson who just gets by on personality type of approach.
00:07:19 Brent Keltner
And it looks. I mean, I grew up I’m older than you, and I grew up in that world and part of why? The reason I feel passionate about this is everybody got to make a transition to be successful, and what’s changed is the Internet and social media shifted the power dynamics. The seller does not control the information anymore. They don’t control the product information. They don’t control the pricing information they don’t control. Their competitive lens. That’s all out on the Internet. That’s computer review sites, so you gotta show up and you gotta add value, right? And you have to engage people around what they’re thinking about. To really win in this environment, and honestly when we talk about authenticity wins it’s you will have more success, but you’ll enjoy your job more. I mean, nobody likes like the combat of people trying to avoid you. Do right or not picking up your calls or not committing to the next call. And if we start from a posture of empathy and I’m gonna wear, are you walking today? How can I help you solve your problems? They’re not going to win all our deals, but they’re much more likely to give us more. Time to bring in other people on their side, right? To help us navigate. Their buying process, ’cause now we’re on the. Same side of the table.
00:08:38 Gary Ruplinger
Yeah, that that that shift you mentioned there it really kind of stands out to me early in my career I sold cars and it was at this kind of transition point of, you know, the old school salesperson to the everything on the Internet. All the information is there so you know customer comes in and learned more about the product than you do, you’re just. They’re not really getting away almost, it was it was really interesting because you know you’ve got the old school management style of you know they’re still stuck in what they learned back in the 80s. And you’ve got all you know; young people like me at the time. They’re like, no it’s the Internet, you know, we just, you know, we’re just here to help people, and that was that was a big culture clash at the time because of this.
00:09:21 Brent Keltner
Right ’cause you feel there’s an if you’re raising that old school, you feel a loss of control. Well, I used to be in charge. And now you’re really more of service and we do we work with a couple of companies that sell into the dealer space. And it’s all. I mean, I think your instinct is right. It’s like buyers show up and you’re like, hey, I know you’ve done a ton of research, anything jumps out at you. Anything that brought you to our dealership today, right? And boom, they’re talking about why they’re there. And now we can align to that.
00:09:52 Gary Ruplinger
Yeah, absolutely. So, I know one of the things you mentioned then is marketing and sales alignment and I think that I would love to kind of hear more about your take on that. I, I think so many times that those are just almost two completely separate departments. That really won’t even talk to each other at so many organizations.
00:10:12 Brent Keltner
Yeah, 100% and one of the reasons we. We do work as I mentioned on this is what are your value place? How do you derive value for your buyer and how? Would you know? It one of the great things about doing that work is it makes it those handoffs easier, ’cause now it’s not the buyer navigating our organization, it’s us figuring out how to connect the buyer to the next stage around. What they value? And so, there’s a story in the book we talk about a company CeriFi Adams Ellingson, who’s the executive Vice President sales there and they work on Ceri 6, Ceri 7 and the CFP Licensures, right, and they sell them to Corporations. I love this story because when he started the interview we did for the book, he said we focused the entire buyer journey, right? From the landing on the website through the sales through the upsell motion on 2 questions. What’s your success rate today in terms of your pass rate on those exams, and how could your success? Great go higher and they have some specific probes. Is it the content is at the individualization of learning? Is it another area? But what’s great about the ideas that value here is all around helping you graduate? Have more people on your financial team passed that exam rate? How can we work on it? So now. If you know if that’s the value literally when you hit the web page. They’re already sort of asking you those questions. Where are you trying to take around? Which license exam are you trying to increase your success rates, and have you thought about? Is it the right content or is it the delivery modality or is it you know individualization of learning and so now they’ve already educated? For the sales conversation, people are just probing on the information you’ve already shared. Take me deep or what would be success for you, the expansion team? The success team coming back to those same questions. As a way of OK, maybe we started with one division of your company. Can we move over to a second division? Is there a need to increase pass rates so when you think about buyer value and again it could go back to you? You know it could. It could go back to pass rates. So, it could go back. That’s a user experience. This could be just; you know how well are you leveraging your staff right? How well are you you’re leveraging your advisors or financial service advisor in this case, but once you capture those value plays now, it brings that marketing, sales and success better into alignment.
00:12:52 Gary Ruplinger
That’s great. So, I know another thing you’d kind of mentioned then is kind of anchoring that buyer value.
00:13:03 Brent Keltner
Yeah, and we talk all the time about a success statement, right that the goal of discovery. I think there’s so much kind of superficial or we call it shallow discovery. All salespeople have heard about. A customer centered selling or value-based selling or whatever so everybody starts. With questions now. And questions are great, but really what you want to do we think about is ask follow on questions around OK, you’re working on a certain area. What would get you know what’s keeping you from what you would make you successful there? Like what’s? Do you have any capability gaps that would lead you to be more successful? Where are you between your ideal? Your current saying your ideal state? What would be a win like getting the buyer to articulate not just what they’re working on, but what would make them successful in pursuit of that goal? Getting to a success statement? Anchoring on that. Across the entire arc of the deal. So, let me give you a specific example of in the book.
Another story is a company called Wisps that has a natural food cheese crisp snack. I had worked with Alana Fisher at Eduventures. She’s a whip smart. Uhm, kind of Columbia, MBA. I reconnected with her. I’m just curious like why would somebody that smart going in the natural food industry and for her it was that she saw an opportunity by anchoring on value to drive a very different growth trajectory, right? She said most natural food products people show up and it’s like blah blah blah a highest quality product. You know, baked with love, natural ingredients and she said, we show up and we talk about are you interested in making more money with your shelf space? You have a certain amount of shelf space, or you interested in kind of getting better utilization of those shelf space and, how could we? Help you with that so the question. They start in discovery is you know what would be you know? How can you better use your products? To get the right product on the shelf to move more product, have you thought about that? Have you thought about that in your natural ingredients area and so, what they’re trying to do is get somebody to articulate what would be a win? In terms of better using utilizing their shelf space and then it’s yeah you know we have a goal of increasing by this much. OK, that’s the buyer success statement. My follow up email is going to anchor on that when I go to a next meeting with the merchandising manager and their boss about moving around, it’s hey, remember we agreed this isn’t about. List product this is about how much your goals for moving more product from your stuff. We had agreed that you’re interested in getting 10% more sales out of your natural food product shelves. We think we have a strategy for helping you to do that by code merchandising. ETC so we identify what the win is, the success statement we try and quantify it as possible. And then ideally, we ask people to invest in that success statement. So, if we identify, quantify, then the. When we ask for the pricing. It’s not just another budget line item, it’s an investment in something they’ve already said they care about. So that’s what we think about anchoring on the success statement. Anchoring on the payoff. That’s kind of the motion we want to describe.
00:16:29 Gary Ruplinger
And how do you kind of go about that initial part of finding that initial kind of success statement or identifying the right questions to ask at the beginning of that. Because this is a pretty, that’s a pretty big shift in that past example from your typical, you know natural foods you know. Like I said, baked with love. Versus no, would you like to get more revenue from the shelf space? That’s a that’s that would never even occur to me as a way to do it so. I’m curious how you work with your clients to identify those shifts.
00:17:03 Brent Keltner
Yeah, and so this is where the, when you think of a value. Just think about what your products, what business outcome doesn’t drive? So, I mentioned the dealer and you started as a card working a car dealership. I mean you could think about this as a marketing automation to one current client, activate or dealer solutions and so they can clean your data, right? So, you’re not now marketing to a bunch of people that no longer have a car from your dealership. You’re not marketing them to service. Uhm, or they have much more targeted campaigns, right? To go to different demographics and different ages. If they get start to get a hook, OK, yeah, we don’t cleanse our data enough for our marketing isn’t targeted or we can’t follow the event to know who still owns that vehicle. OK, great, you got a gap now. What business problem would that help you accomplish? Right, because the interest is so would that help you get more service customers in? Would that help you with your sales on would help you build more qualified leads to your salespeople on the shop floor. Will that help you build your efficiencies in your marketing system? So, you gotta think about the value product. What business outcomes as a drive for your buyer? And be intentional about making those linkages. Is it about dollars? Is it about cost savings? Is it about often a lot of products? It’s just helping staff do something more efficiently. Write an advisor, a teacher rather than 10 students in the same amount of time, can respond to 30 students conversational AI products. We’ve worked with those in higher Ed. We’ve worked those in call centers. It’s about scaling. You have so many call center operators. How many people can you interact with in a personalized? Way in the same amount of time, so I think it’s about connecting your product. Product gaps that you can fill are great, OK, and how would that make you a hero. To your boss, what business problem would that help us solve together? That help answer the question?
00:19:10 Gary Ruplinger
That’s very, yeah it does. And you know, as you’re talking about that, it made me start thinking about, you know, just the even the bad cleanliness thing that all the all the complaints you know the business development center would get if we did a big you know, outreach campaign to pass customers. You know the first day or the 1st 20 people who were. Yeah hey, I don’t have this car anymore. Yeah, you take me off your list as you know we. Sold that you know 2 Years ago, yeah. I talked to you six months ago. I told you the same thing, why am I still on your list? Like gosh, how could? We get this data cleaner, so yeah, trying you know we were thinking about certain pain points to the right person. Now with the general manager, have cared about that no. Would the business development manager have cared about? You know that particular statement. Absolutely, ’cause that’s their pain point, but it wouldn’t bend to, you know, the owner. Obviously, he doesn’t care at all. Doesn’t matter to him at all, he just wants to know the numbers.
00:20:08 Brent Keltner
Right and so I mean, I love the way you’re just thinking about that in real time. It’s we got a data cleansing issue. Who does that cause a pain for? Well, the BDC of the business development manager write. His people are now getting complaints or wasting time responding. They’re going to the wrong leads so they’re operating a lot less. Efficiently, but if we play that out if they’re not calling on the wrong people, probably over time, that contributes to less sale. Hey, Mr. General manager, I just talked to your business development manager on the opportunity to give him higher quality leads. Spend less time working them, do you think? That could help. With your overall sales number, so I think what you said is product capability. Questions are great, let’s. Why does that matter? There’s somebody how does that kind of grow up to affect there you know, the business outcomes that they care about. Uhm, because a lot of times when. We ask for dollars. If it’s just a product substitutes which in this thing for another thing, it’s less compelling than hey, this could save you money. Hey, this could help your staff be 20% more efficient. Hey this could help you drive more incremental revenue that that makes it a lot easier for people to make an investment.
00:21:31 Gary Ruplinger
That’s awesome. So, we’re kind of saying help the sales teams with performance by 20%. Is it really just by kind of refining these targets and these valid errors? This win, authenticity wins I believe is. You call them to really just get better, more effective conversations and with people.
00:21:53 Brent Keltner
Yeah, I mean there are two things right that we find is when you think about starting with what they care about the most and well, you know what success would be for them. And as we finish on that, we always encourage people to develop your own version of this of what would successfully. There’s lots of ways to ask it, right? What would your Touchdown dance be if we can work together on that, what would your touchdown dance be? What will get you dancing in the end zone? What would make you a hero to your boss, right? Uh, one really high performing seller, right? As she said, we developed. We show him all of our capabilities and then I say, and if I can wave a magic wand and you had this in six to 12 months, what problems would it solve for you? And people will immediately answer. I would do this, that or the other. Thing that I’m not doing. Now, so think about everybody should have those success questions like if we were to work together, how would it make you more successful? Right, I would make you a hero. How to get you dancing in the end zone. How to build an ROI case. What if you? Could do 5% more of that. What would that be worth? Could it avoid a risk, right? So just think about your success questions. That gets the buyer to lean in, and then the second thing is at the end you just have to get the buyers, I think. What I heard would make you successful, but I hear that right and what you? What are you willing to do next? Mr., Mrs. buyer. What actions are you going to take to realize that value? So, it’s engaging more, but it’s qualifying actually end? Who actually cares? Who cares enough to take actions when we work with sales teams 30 to 35%, we start to do this exercise of what have they committed to doing next 30 to 35% of deals? Total drift mode because we never asked them to do anything, so it’s hopeful selling as opposed to you know. We got the end of the call. They agreed to bring their manager in. They agreed to prioritize against the three things we identified. They agreed to look at their budget. They agreed to review some content. You know, some great sales seem. Now they won’t engage the next. Call until you’ve confirmed, yeah, I looked at that two-minute video snippet. These are the things that we should. Spend our next meeting. On what did they agree to do next before our next meeting before I agree to spend time so long answer to deal velocity comes around a higher engagement. And better qualification they see value. They will take actions to realize that value.
00:24:25 Gary Ruplinger
I love that I think that’s brilliant, especially kind of essentially getting them to envision the success in their mind and already you know basically in that in their mind they already. They have it so now. Now they just want that that clear path to get there for. If you’re listening at home, go back two minutes. If you. If you didn’t take notes on that, write that down. ’cause that was that’s some brilliant stuff that I rent. Thank you for sharing that with that with everybody.
00:24:52 Brent Keltner
Well, I appreciate that what they should write down is what you said ’cause you captured it much more succinctly. Help them envision their success. Help them envision their success and write down what they say in their words. That’s how the anchoring idea you raised. If they can share their success and their wards, anchor the whole deal on that.
00:25:14 Gary Ruplinger
That’s great yeah, I love this stuff, so I guess if somebody wants more information about this ’cause it’s you’ve got some pretty brilliant concepts here. Where should I go to learn more about what? What you do and how you can help.
00:25:32 Brent Keltner
Yeah, so I will offer 2 websites first one authenticitywins.com. If you go, there you can actually download the forward from David Meerman Scott noted marketing and growth author is my book coach and the first chapter of the Book for Free. So, you can just get. More of a taste of the work we do and how we got to this point and then if they want to come to winanlytics.com. You can find out more about us and some of these concepts we’ve been talking about. You can reach out to me directly, or you can just submit a. We do complementary growth diagnostics for people that we’ll just do an interview of, like. Which of the do you have your value plays in place? Have you connected that to prospecting? If you connected that to sales so we can do a complementary diagnostic to see if there’s things we can help them with, and if not, people always take away a lot of value from this, so those would be my two recommendations.
00:26:38 Gary Ruplinger
Well, excellent, I will make sure we put both of those in the shownotes, so authenticitywins.com for a free chapter of the book and winanlytics.com for a complementary diagnostic. Alright, well Brent dad, thanks so much for coming on the show. I think he dropped some real wisdom for people, and you’ll have to let David come on again sometime soon.
00:27:01 Brent Keltner
Yeah, no I love that and thank you for a lot of great questions. You lead really well in these forums and I’ll maybe well after the book comes out in April. We can do a reprise.
00:27:12 Gary Ruplinger
Yeah, I’d love to. I’d love to. I’d love to hear how the book launch goes and I’m sure our audience at home would as well so.
00:27:18 Brent Keltner
Excellent Gary, thanks so much.
00:27:20 Gary Ruplinger
Thanks so much Brent.
00:27:21 Gary Ruplinger