Marketing Podcast

Shaking Up Your 2020 Sales Strategy with Peter Strohkorb

Season 3 – Episode 7

Crisis Series: Imagine a perfect world, where sales and marketing unite, and work together hand-in-hand with the customer experience in mind… This is the world that is possible, with some egos left at the door, and some better processes in place to get everybody rowing in the same direction.

My guest, Peter Strohkorb, Executive Consultant and founder of Peter Strohkorb Advisory, spends his days working with companies striving to improve their sales and marketing processes and boost productivity, and revenue along the way.

We discuss:

  • The problem with sales teams doing business-as-usual
  • Ways that sales can improve, with ownership from the top
  • Sales and marketing collaboration in 2020

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Transcript

Fiona:

This is the 2020 Crisis Series of This Marketing Life, I am chatting with Peter Strohkorb, CEO and Founder of Peter Strohkorb Advisory.

As an Executive Consultant, Peter offers sales and marketing advisory services to the B2B, Tech and Services Sector, and he is also a published author, and his main mission is to help business grow their sales results.

Welcome to the show Peter.

Peter:

Thank you Fiona. It’s great to be here.

Fiona:

How are you doing? How are you surviving during this pandemic and lock down?

Peter:

Well, I’m probably coping as well as anybody else that’s, working from home and reaching out to prospects. My three kids are all home remote learning but they’ve adapted really quickly and easily.

They… kids are very resilient and very adaptable. So, look, I always say to people, “the news by how we’re doing is it could be much worse we could be lying in a hospital bed somewhere. So under the circumstances, we’re doing really well.

Fiona:

Yeah, you’ve got a lot on the bright side I think. We haven’t had a playbook for what this kind of scenario looks like in business, in education, or in life, so we’re kind of making it up as we go along.

So yeah, so I would like to talk about what you’re doing at this time, and what you think about this pandemic and how has this impacted the way sales performs, and did sales strategies need to change when this pandemic kicked in?

Peter:

Yes, they did. So what I observe, personally, was that in the initial stages of the pandemic, and particularly the lock down, a lot of businesses are really focused inwardly.

They had to re-arrange the staff to get them to work from home. They had to re-arrange procedures… routines that had been established for years were all of a sudden all thrown up in the year, so they didn’t really pay any attention at all to any marketers or sales people trying to still do their jobs.

And even the sales and marketing businesses themselves were affected by the change. What has transpired in the recent times is that, a lot of people didn’t really want to be sold to, ’cause they’ve had enough on their mind already and they didn’t want to… they were worried, about their own future, their own jobs, their family, their health, their life that… whatever else.

Fiona:

Of course, when you’re worried about those basics, the things like having income and not catching this Coronavirus too. You know, if you’re worried about basic health and basic accommodation and food, it’s really hard to think about those other bigger picture things that you might need to get.

Peter:

Yeah, that’s right, so… So if you’re focused on the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid, you don’t really wanna think about the top too much, I guess.

But I think recently, that has shifted a little bit in so far as, I think, people are getting used to working in the new environment, working from home or whatever it is. Whether you have kids at home or you are on the road or not.

And I think there is a sense that people want to get back to something resembling normal or we’ve just become used to this new normal and now we wanna get on with it. And I particularly refer to a conversation I had with a Sales Leader in a mid-market company in Queensland.

And they contacted me and they basically said, “Look, I want my sales reps to stop making excuses, get off the hands, and start selling again…

Fiona:

Nice idea.

Peter:

So yeah, that was kind of like an early indicator for me, that people wanna get back to something that resembles some sense of normal.

Fiona:

Of course. And also, I know these business leaders are saying, “Oh yeah, get back to selling. But I think the way we sell has fundamentally changed, as a sales team.

And I think remote selling is something that a lot of BDMs and Sales Consultants aren’t used to ’cause, a lot has been face-to-face a lot has been making visits and having face-to-face meetings, so I think there’s been just a change in the processes and how selling actually happens now.

Peter:

That’s right, and because people don’t want to be sold to, they preferred to be engaged, as I call it, they want to be informed by subject matter experts, in terms of how can you help my situation get better?

They don’t want to be spammed, they don’t want to be cold called, they just want to be engaged and educated. And so that’s a big wakeup call for a lot of sales organisations who’ve been, dare I say, a bit lazy, by having a mass reach out to a large number of suspects to hope to turn them into prospects by catching the one or two of them that happened to be interested in what you’re selling at that time.

I think those days are over. That lesson’s been learned and we now need to think much more sophisticatedly about how we want to engage with ideal prospects. And I actually call that sophisticated prospect engagement, as opposed to lead generation.

Fiona:

Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. I think now, especially in this time of a health crisis, it’s about reading the situation and using judgment and empathy to change the way you sell a little bit.

Peter:

Yes, and the key to that is really to see what you’re doing from the customers, or from the prospect’s perspective. So the old, I call it… we-we-syndrome, the old, we are, “This is us… And that’s our name, and we do this, and we do that, and we have these customers.”

Nobody cares. People want to know what can you do to help me?

What is the outcome that you delivering? And by the way, I don’t wanna be spammed, I’m don’t wanna be pummelled with e-mails. I want to be educated and guided.

So it’s quite a paradigm shift for a lot of sales organisations who are used to… dare-I-say… the old pray-and-spray. That’s not going to be effective any longer.

Fiona:

No. Well, it’s funny that you talk about that, because even if we back up and we look at what sales and sales teams were like before this crisis, even back in 2018, 2019, coming into 2020, I think that old model of that, like you said, this spray-and-pray, the traditional sales dog, the traditional sales lead gen. I think it was changing. I think it may have even changed for good.

Peter:

I think that’s absolutely right Fiona. I actually wrote an article about them and said the old pray-and-spray was dead before COVID19 came along. It’s just totally given the death knell now.

And let’s face it, the crisis is actually… if you wanna look at the bright side, the crisis is actually a great catalyst for people to rethink their business, their approach, their go-to-market and how they’re gonna treat their prospects and customers in the future.

I think it’s a great opportunity for businesses to actually rethink, not only what they’re gonna do right now, during the crisis, but also what are they going to do differently, post-crisis?

Fiona:

Yeah. It’s really pressed “pause” on the whole situation. We were all so busy and running around.

And then since this crisis has come and people are forced to work from home and set up new technologies, and put things in place, and we’re actually kind of realising that things really did need to change. And this is kind of drawn a line in the sand, to make that change.

Peter:

I hope so, because a lot of organisations have cut costs and shed staff, and they’re operating on skeleton resources. And they’re still busy doing their day-to-day thing.

And the risk for these companies is that they’re so focused on this week, and next week, and the end of the month, that they don’t take that opportunity to press the pause button, and think about what they’re doing, and how they could do things better.

So I think there’s a real risk there, by companies still being busy on a day-to-day basis, and not working on the business, instead of in the business.

Fiona:

Well, that’s a good point. This is could be a good time to work on the business. This could be a good time to take a step back, and look at your sales processes, and look at your sales funnel, and see how it’s actually operating, to see if it’s actually effective.

I mean, just by pressing pause and stepping back you may actually realise that there is so many missed opportunities. A lot of businesses do focus on getting new customers in, but maybe this is a good time to step back and look at, maybe, older prospects that you’ve spoken to or even existing customers, and seeing how you can better serve them.

I mean, this time could just be really a chance to have a look at how everything is operating.

Peter:

Well, that’s totally right. So I think if executives and business owners and business leaders just take a day out, of their life, and just look at…

Fiona:

A whole day?

Peter:

Take a fresh look at what they’re doing and whether there’s a better way?

And in terms of lead generation, and going back to existing customers, you should be nurturing your existing customers anyway. There’s all sorts of studies out there that say, “It’s between 7 and 10 times easier and cheaper to get repeat business from an existing customer than to win a brand new customer from scratch.”

Fiona:

Now we’re getting into talking, I guess, about sales and marketing working together…

Peter:

Yes.

Fiona:

Oh, heaven help that should have ever happen.

Peter:

Well, as you know, I’m a big fan of the term, smarketing, and in fact, that’s the title of my new book, Smarketing: sell smarter are not harder. It’s available at all good Amazon shops, if you want to know.

Fiona:

True, true.

Peter:

But you touched on something quite relevant that, the collaboration or the interplay between sales and marketing is very important, and I actually have a new perspective on that would you believe, Fiona.

Fiona:

Oh really?

Peter:

In the sense that the old sales funnel says…you stick leads into the top. So that’s the domain of marketing. And then they get qualified, so that’s the main of marketing. Then they get handed over to sales and then sales follows them up. And then, turns him into a sale.

Fiona:

In a perfect world.

Peter:

Well, what was pointed out to me recently, and I totally agree with, is that from that post-transaction point-of-view, that should then become the realm of marketing again, to keep the post-transaction relationship going, and get the customer to… not just remain engaged and give us repeat business, but also, so that they become a raving fan of our business and tell all their friend about it…

Fiona:

Refer business…

Peter:

And you get referrals, right? So, this smarketing function should actually be marketing, sales, marketing, and then sales again, and it should be like a circular arrangement.

Fiona:

I completely agree. I’ve disliked the funnel, as such, for such a long time, because I don’t think it is a funnel.

I don’t think there’s this definitive beginning and this definitive end, where the customer just falls out the bottom, or falls into a big dish at the bottom… I think it is cyclical, I think it is, in this cycle that you keep going from a customer to being nurtured, exactly like you said.

I mean, it’s interesting when you look at these sales and marketing versus each other kind of thing, it makes me laugh actually.

Why do you think sales and marketing almost have this competitive thing?

Peter:

I think it’s the fault of the Consultants.

Fiona:

Oh really?

Peter:

Yes.

Fiona:

So those pesky consultants?

Peter:

If… you’re probably too young to remember Fiona, but last century, there was a lot of talk about…. “We’ve got a create centres of excellence in our businesses”, right?

And so what they did was they created the centre of excellence for marketing, and a centre of excellence for sales. Gave them each a separate… Head… separate Manager, right?

And then over time, because of these artificially created silo structures, they started drifting apart mentally as well, and they were then given different KPIs.

So for example, marketing may be goaled on the quantity of sales leads that they’re generated for sales right, or the number of events they run, or the number of clicks they have on their website right, but that is not directly related to generating… helping sales generate revenue, right?

And so you have this, you know, disconnect, that was created by… creating… by wanting to do the right thing originally… creating centres of excellence, and lifting the quality of each function.

But the almost unintended consequence was that they actually started to drift apart, and so we stuck with organisations have huge gaps between those departments.

Fiona:

No, I have witnessed that myself. They put marketing in one corner and they put sales in the other corner, and never the two do meet, except argue once a month at a meeting.

Peter:

That’s right and you know what, in 2016, we undertook some research and I probably haven’t told you about this in the past.

We looked at 185 B2B organisations. And we…

Fiona:

Where was this? In Australia?

Peter:

It was drummed up in Australia. We had some American input there as well. It almost didn’t matter by… the geography almost didn’t matter ’cause here’s what we did, we divided them… we asked them in the last 12 months, have you grown your sales revenue? Yes or no?

So divided them into those two camps and then we asked both camps the same question, namely, “What is the structure of your sales and marketing organisation? Like… do the each report into an individual head, who then reports into maybe a COO or CEO, or do sales and marketing report to the same… one and the same Head?”.

And the key outcome from the whole research. I mean, there’s a 32-page report available, right. But the key outcome from that research was, that those organisations have managed to grow their revenue, over the last 12 months, overwhelmingly had in Head of Sales or Marketing.

And in fact it wasn’t just a difference of 10% or 20%, it was a difference of 200%. So, twice as many organisations that had their sales and marketing report into one Head, actually made… increased their revenue over the previous 12 months than those had separate silos.

Fiona:

Wow, okay, that is fascinating. Is that… where is that data? Can I link to that data in the show notes? Or that research?

Peter:

I’ll send you a link, or I’ll send you report. Because it’s not… it’s back from 2016, or something, so it’s not totally up to date, but it was a remarkable finding and it was pretty consistent like I said, across geographies, and also across industries.

Fiona:

Wow, no, I think for Marketing Managers… I think, due to these two different silos that definitely still exist. I wish it didn’t, but it totally still exists. I think, marketing just needs to understand that we need to take responsibility and step up and engage with sales more and connect with the sales team, and connect with the sales leader, and hopefully as a Marketing Manager, they’re doing that.

I remember when I started at Console, this software business, that one of the first things I did was I said, to the sales team, “I wanna come out with you on the road.” And they’re like, “Why?”

They were like, “Marketing doesn’t come out on the road” and I said, to them, “Of course, marketing should come out on the road.” I said, “You guys, all you do all day is visit customer’s businesses, and how better to get expedient marketing research and understand the needs of the customers then spend a day on the road every month with you, just listening to what the customers are talking about, and what they’re saying. So it was, it just seemed natural to me to do that, but everyone had never heard of it before.

Peter:

That’s right, but I don’t wanna shift the blame or to either sales or marketing.

Fiona:

Haha. Sure you don’t.

Peter:

Personally, it’s not really constructive, but also it’s not fair, right?

Fiona:

No, I know.

Peter:

Because the thing that often happens is that because they’ve drifted apart and their operating in separate silos, whenever times get tough or sales don’t happen, or in this current environment, it’s marketing whose budget gets cut first, right?

Fiona:

I know.

Peter:

And then three months later, then you figure out that, ahhh… Because we cut the budget, now got fewer opportunities, so it’s not a matter of marketing to reach out to sales and say “Hey, I wanna work with you”.

But it’s actually a structural thing. And dare I say, I don’t like mentioning it out loud, but sometimes it’s a cultural change management issue as well.

Fiona:

I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to. I think the culture for that relationship comes from management. It comes from the leadership in the business setting the culture.

So I think it is mostly that. I do joke about this angst between sales and marketing, but at the end of the day, everyone is just trying to do the best work that they can, whether they’re in sales, or whether they’re in marketing. But no, I think you are right. It comes to the leadership in the business, the management of the teams, whether it’s the CEO or… Well, of course, it’s the CEO, the buck stops with the CEO, in terms of setting the tone and setting the culture for how sales and marketing work together.

Peter:

And you know, it’s actually not rocket science. It makes a lot of sense if you just stop for a minute and think about it, because if you imagine a triangle, and you’ve got sales and one corner and marketing in the other, and the customer in the third… let’s not forget about the customer. Then imagine this…

So sales interacts and engages with the customer, and the customer will give them immediate feedback on what they think about the content or the website or the lead generation or whatever they’re talking about.

So sales has all this really valuable know how… and messaging that they’re getting from the customer directly. And now imagine if they didn’t just keep that to themselves, but actually fed that forward to… fed that back to marketing…

Fiona:

That would be beautiful.

Peter:

Marketing just get such a better impression of what their stuff actually does at the coalface. And then that would it help marketing to make a better informed decision in terms of how they can support sales, right?

Fiona:

Well, it would definitely impact the messaging that marketing would use in any campaign.

Peter:

So now imagine if the market research that marketing does with the customers, with the market… that can then be better informed as well that can be fed back to sales can actually do a better job at representing the organisation, of what they’re selling, in the industry, and their know-how, their personal brand, that business brand, much more effectively than then each sales rep trying to… do it on their own.

So I call that the ‘virtual cycle of collaboration between sales and marketing and the customer’.

And it goes around because… marketing talks to the customer. Sorry, marketing gets research from the customer, sales talks to the customer, customer talks to sales, and sales and marketing talk to each other, and everybody benefits… sales benefits… marketing benefits and the customer benefits.

Because they’re getting a much more pleasant experience, because the sales rep won’t say something different to what it says on the website, for example.

The rep won’t be surprised when the customer says… I’m interested in talking to you about the special and the rep says… “Oh, what special?”

So everybody will be on the same page and talk the same language, and it’ll be much more consistent and that’ll give a much better, higher quality customer experience.

Fiona:

Well, we are in the age of the customer experience now. We are in this stage where the customer truly is king and they… having a great experience from first interacting with your brand, to becoming a prospect, becoming a customer…

This seems to be where we are at the moment and all marketing, and all sale, now seems to be pivoting towards this. How can we give the customer a great experience?

Peter:

And it’s about time too. There’s a lot of lip service paid to customer experience.

Yes, we do, we do everything with the customer in mind… and then at the end of the month, it’s like quick, get the sale.

Fiona:

I know.

Peter:

So what conviction is that right? So it’s about time that we actually start doing what we’re saying we’re doing.

Fiona:

Well, this is the thing. So you talk about setting up this cycle, but how do you do that?

How do you change this cycle, to get it to focus on customer experience? I mean, who takes the lead on that in the organisation?

Peter:

So I can answer that one from practical experience, the… If I…

Fiona:

Do it.

Peter:

Whenever I’ve gone to marketing and said, “You can do better helping sales.” They go… “Oh no, no, we’re doing really well with sales and sales are really happy with us and there’s no problem here go away, right?”

Whenever I’ve gone to sales and said, “I want to help you work better with marketing, so they can help you to get more sales. They go… “No, we’re too busy. It’s coming up to the end the month, the end of the quarter, the end of the year. If you wanna fix up marketing, talk to marketing”.

So, talking to the individuals about doing things better, has not been proven to be successful. Right?

But if you go to… wherever the two report into next, right?

Whether that’s the COO or the CEO, and you address it as a strategic matter whereby you say that you can gain much greater benefits in terms of productivity, in terms of sales outcomes, in terms of customer experience, in terms of staff experience… employee experience, because I would much rather work in an organisation where people are helping me to be successful, rather than whether fingers pointed at me, saying, that’s your fault, that we’re not selling.

So, there’s a multitude of very strategic benefits in getting sales and marketing onto the same page and practicing s-marketing.

Fiona:

But the thing is, obviously, if you’re in a certain process, and way of doing things to introduce this new process, as the leader of the business, or as the leader of the team, even if it’s the CMO or whoever, working together with Head of Sales, is it just… How do you transition that?

You can’t just do a cold stop, and then start this new way of working. How long have you seen it take to transition from that siloed way of working to more collaboratively.

Peter:

That’s an excellent question, ’cause nobody wants the business to be disrupted. You want to build the car while it’s moving.

Fiona:

People….. yes….

Peter:

And so the answer is quite simple. The title of my first book is The One-Team Method, and it’s actually a now proven methodology that outlines the precise steps, in terms of how you bring s-marketing into an organisation without stopping the cart to change the wheels. And the philosophy behind it, is that everybody is going to be part of the solution.

Nobody is going to be the problem. Because the idea is… if I come in and say, “Look you’re doing everything wrong, let me tell you how to do it well”, then you gotta say, “Well, what would you know?”, and you get your back up, and you resist.

Whereas if you say “Look, this is what we’re hoping to achieve. Here’s a vision of the future for us. Is that a vision that you can… That you would embrace?”.

And everybody says, “Well that would be much better than what we’ve got now, ’cause sales would be selling more and marketing could better recognised for what they’re doing, and the customer gets a better experience. The CEO can achieve their targets. The board will be happy, and the shareholders will be happy. So everybody wins.

So if you can paint that vision, where everybody wins, then there’s going to be less resistance. And then if you support that with, “You’re actually part of the solution. You can make a contribution to getting us to that end point, to that Nirvana, to that future outcome”, then there’s less resistance implementing it.

And the One-Team Method starts off with something very simple, with a very basic assessment, then leads to… what I call… discovery session where people can understand what the areas for improvement are…

Fiona:

Like a workshop.

Peter:

And how they can be achieved, and then we can work on a plan together, so that, as I said, everybody becomes part of the solution and then when you implement the plan, everybody’s already onboard and they’ll be less… resistance to it.

Fiona:

Resistance. And how, how long is that process? How long is that?

Peter:

It depends, of course… Depends on the size of the organisation, how bad things are when we first engage. And also, how onboard the people are… So I’ll give you an example if you like.

So, there is a company called Momentum Energy, in Australia that is a listed provider of electricity and gas in Australia to businesses and households.

And I had breakfast with the CEO, I was introduced to them a few years ago now, and during the breakfast, he said, “Look there’s something screwy going on between our sales teams, and our marketing teams and… I can’t put my finger on it. Can you help us find out?”.

And I ran the initial assessment for him, and gave him the s-marketing score for his organisation. That’s actually a metric that helps you measure the maturity of the sales and marketing collaboration called the s-marketing score. And he presented the findings to him in his board room, and he was horrified.

No seriously. He said to me, “Oh my God, I had no idea how bad this is. We will need to fix this, I will take this on, as my personal initiative.  He actually said, “The buck stops with me”, which I thought was really great, because he could have easily said “No, that’s… That can’t be right. Get out of my office.”

So he took it on the chin and he wanted to do something about it.

I then referred to, to the research I mentioned earlier and he said, “That’s what we’re gonna do, we’re going to hire a new Head of Sales and Marketing. One person that both teams report into, right?

Now, that set us back by about six months ’cause we had to recruit and on board this person but he hired this lady called Amy Childs. And she came on board as the brand new Head of Sales and Marketing, and we worked together for, I don’t know, six months or so, and aligned the sales and the marketing teams, we put new procedures in place. We relocated people in the office, so that the marketing teams and the sales teams, could actually sit as close to each other physically, as possible.

The call centre staff who are normally on the very periphery of the sales side of things, were brought into the fold, at least not geographically, ’cause they were actually located in Tasmania, but at least we had organised a call with these guys on a weekly basis and the call was not a monologue from head office to Tasmania ,as had been the case previously, but it was actually a dialogue, a two-way call where they could make suggestions and deliver and bring back observations and actually give that feedback from the coalface to the management team… straight and directly.

And the organisation has been thriving since and Amy Childs has now become the CEO of the entire organisation.

Fiona:

Wow, that’s a great story.

Yeah, that initiative does have to come from the top. The top really does have to drive it ’cause… Yeah, if they don’t, it’s a wasted exercise.

Peter:

I don’t even like to pretend… it’s just a sort of shifting things around at the edges type exercise. It is actually a strategic initiative, but it doesn’t need to be disruptive, that’s my point.

So it needs to be strategic, it needs to be supported from the top, but it’s not going to be disrupting your business while you’re doing it. You can’t change the colour of the car while it’s moving.

Fiona:

Well, yeah, well the thing is, it would be nice to have that kind of leadership and to have a CEO driving that, but obviously there’s a lot of Marketing Managers out there who may not get that buy-in from the top.

I mean, is there anything that individual Marketing Managers and their small teams can do to work better themselves with the sales team? What advice would you have for Marketers like that?

Peter:

I mentioned that in my book, it’s in the last chapter on the call-to-action, and it is actually a call-to-action for marketing leaders to step up. To present themselves as leaders and to say, “I think I can do a better job helping sales to achieve more. I want to work better with sales to help to drive more revenue and I encourage my counterpart in sales to work with me.” Right?

Now, if you were in an executive meeting, and you were the CEO your Head of Marketing got up and said “I wanna do a better job helping the sales team to achieve their targets and maybe even exceed their targets, and produce some better customer experience at the same time. I’m willing to step up to it, and I’m encouraging my counterpart to work with me.”

What impression with that make on the CEO do you think?

Fiona:

It might work. It’s worth trying.

Peter:

Yeah, so I think… marketers have done a shit job marketing themselves. Here’s an opportunity to really step up and be noticed.

Fiona:

I… I think it’s worth trying.

Peter:

But look, you’ve got two choices. You can keep doing the same thing you always have, and try to hide behind the clicks and the numbers, or you can actually be accountable for revenue and actually do something at a strategic level.

And how good would that look on your CV by the way? How much would that raise your personal brand and your personal profile? How mobile would that make you? Upwardly mobile? Would that make you in the workplace and in the job market?

So, you really, either are somebody that wants to keep doing the same thing expecting a different result or you want to step up and be seen as a leader.

Fiona:

True, no, I think that sounds fair enough. I think there’s definitely… I was talking to Akshay from Optus the other day and he was saying the same thing about marketing leadership having to step up and do what needs to get done. So yeah, maybe that’s… Maybe it’s just worth trying.

Peter:

It’s not just worth trying… now is the absolutely right time.

If we go back to what we said earlier, that now is the time to step back and see the forest and the trees and look at what are you going to do differently when the crisis is over… now, it’s the ideal opportunity to plan that out and to get that process started because the crisis has given us this pause that we can now utilise. We can take advantage of…

Fiona:

Yeah… no…spot on…

Have you seen businesses doing the right thing in regards to sales during this crisis?

I mean, I’ve received some messages that have been totally tone deaf from a sales perspective. I’ve had people pitching me and I read it and I’m thinking “Really?”

But have you seen some businesses doing the right thing from a sales perspective?

Peter:

Yes, I have. I’m sounding a bit cautious because of two things. One is that I’ve had salespeople reach out to me and say, “What can I do? Help? My Sales Manager is putting pressure on me to perform and there’s nobody that wants to talk to me, what can I do?”

So these are the Sales Manages that are doing the same thing, and just thinking they’re gonna do more of the same to get the same result which is not really practical in this environment, right?

On the other hand, I’ve seen the flip side where organisations all of a sudden they’re saying, “Oh look, this is our COVID19 initiative, and we are here to help you. We’re all in this together…

Insurance companies are ringing… sending the emails saying, “How are they dealing with COVID19 and how they can defer their premiums or whatever else, right?

But they’re not really helping, they’re just saying, “Look, you pay us the same, but you just pay us a little bit later. “They’re not solving a problem, and you know how trends that emanate from America eventually make it to our shores?…

Yeah, well I spoke to Christine Crandall in the States who’s a colleague of mine, and she said, “There’s now a lot of backlash against this… this supposedly helping with COVID19 messaging that’s coming from organisations, but they’re all calling out bullshit. They’re all saying, “We don’t believe you one bit you’re just putting lipstick on the pig”, right?

Trying to sound nice, but you’re not really nice, you still wanna get my money, right?

Fiona:

Because it’s not part of their culture… this caring…

Peter:

That’s right. What I’m saying is, there’s a lot of backlash against this… “Let us help you”… you know, the soft approach.

So I think the key is really to be authentic, to be genuine. And yes, individual sales reps absolutely should reach out to their existing customers, and say, “How are you doing? “Is everything okay?” Even without intention of selling them something, just to keep the pipeline going, to now actually build a pipeline for the future. For when the fog lifts and we can all get out again and we all wanna start doing business again, that there is a pipeline. And it’s okay not to sell, so it’s okay not to reach out to somebody with the sole intention of selling them something.

And those organisations get that mix right… between authenticity and engagement, they will be the ones that will be the winner.

Fiona:

No, you’re absolutely right.

I think all that sales can do right now is just keep those relationships going, keep them open.

Peter:

Be authentic , you know.

Fiona:

I think, yeah, because I’ve seen from a marketing perspective, there’s been some good initiatives, and there’s been some terrible initiatives. I mean, I suddenly got an email the other day from a taxi company that I think I used five years ago basically telling me that they’re here for me, and they understand what I’m going through, and I actually burst out laughing when I got the email, ’cause I thought it was hilarious.

I’ve never received an email from this taxi company before, and it just made me think, Yeah, these guys are not really in touch with… You can tell that they are suddenly wanting to do the right thing because obviously people are not getting taxis, but from the other perspective, it just feels so wrong that I was just looking for the unsubscribe as fast as I could.

Peter:

They’ve just obviously found an old list, saying, “Oh let’s do something with that, right? It’s good.”

Fiona:

They dusted it off and they thought, “Oh, these people used to be customers, let’s tell them that we love them and we care about them.

Peter:

Possibly some Consultant said, “Well, you’ve got to nurture your existing customers”. And that’s how they interpreted it.

Fiona:

You gotta love those Consultants. Gotta love those Consultants. Where would we be without them.

Peter:

Fiona, if I may, I just wanna touch on something relevant as well.

And you mentioned the sales funnel earlier and we’ve discovered there shouldn’t be a funnel, it should be circular, and it shouldn’t be sales, it should be s-marketing, because sales and marketing together, but… But what I want to talk about is that…

Fiona:

Agreed.

Peter:

If you look at the traditional sales funnel, I think it’s superseded. It’s gone. It’s old and grey and the teeth are falling out of that thing, right?

And it’s completely aimed at looking at the organisation from internal selling perspectives. It’s about how we want to sell, not about how the customer wants to buy.

And I’ll give you an example, right? So you got the sales funnel, leads go in the top, then they get nurtured, they get qualified, they get turned over to sales, sales then follows them up, the sales makes the sale, right?

Where is the customer in that picture?

So I’m saying that the old sales funnel, is pretty much dead. It’s long in the tooth, it’s old… And it’s not even relevant these days and certainly not in this environment.

So what I’ve done is I’ve re-thought the sales funnel. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I finally managed to get it into a model, where each individual step within the sales funnel, and there’s 10 individual steps that I’ve identified.

Each of those steps is completely aimed at… “What does that look like to the customer?”

Fiona:

The customer’s journey.

Peter:

Well, it’s kind of aligning the sales funnel, with the buyer’s journey.

And, but I’ve gone further than that. Like I said, identified 10 discrete steps and each of the steps is aimed at the customer, and I’ve now created a self-assessment checklist. That people can download from the website and it’s at peterstrohkorb.com/salesfunnels.

Fiona:

Wow, you’ve been busy.

Peter:

And when you’re download this list, you can actually do that in five minutes yourself, and you will find, what bottle necks and what speed bumps exist in your existing sales funnel, and which parts of it are not customer-facing… not a customer-focused.

And it’ll inspire you to rethink your business. And I think again this is the absolutely right time to rethink what you’re doing, right? So I encourage everyone to go to peterstrohkorb.com and download that checklist, it’s free and run it for yourself. And then, if you’re one of the businesses that are affected by the current crisis, I will make my tools, my skill set and my time available to you, in one I call for free, to walk through the results with you and to help you understand what the opportunities for improvement are. So how about that?

Fiona:

That sounds pretty good.

I actually, I’ll put a link in it in the show notes as well, just so people can go and have a look at the checklist, but no, that’s really great Peter.

I think, this is the time, like you said, if there’s any time, this is it. It’s time now to match your sales processes, to the customer outcomes, to marketing, to the customer journey, if you’re gonna get everything aligned, now’s the right time to do it.

Peter:

Yeah, and it’s the right time… the opportunity is there.

People are telling me… they’re finding they’ve got more time with their hands now, because everybody’s working from home… getting few interruptions in their day. So if you have that…

Fiona:

It’s funny isn’t it… the increased productivity…

Peter:

As an executive, if you have the time, if you have the opportunity, if you have the mindset of changing something, there are two or three things that you can really sink your teeth into, and make a big difference right now, and post-crisis.

Fiona:

Yes, in between helping home-school your children.

Peter:

Actually, I have… no… I find that’s not a problem at all. Like I said, my kids are really adaptable… Adaptable? Really flexible, and they just sit on their computer and go through the lessons and my problem in fact, is to get them off those damn things afterwards.

Fiona:

Of course. You gotta have that down time.

Peter:

Some exercise… and some interactions and stuff. So I think the kids are not actually the big problem. I think it’s… us being used to what we’re doing and not….

Fiona:

It’s the parents that are the problem.

Peter:

Let’s not try to blame anybody, right?

Fiona:

No, true. So yeah, just coming back on that, I think now, moving… we’re starting to see this crisis, kind of, the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re starting to see what restrictions might lift. And I guess if what business leaders can do now is just re-assess, and re-evaluate to make sure that when we get back to some kind of normal, that you can have approved… improved effectiveness and efficiencies in your sales and marketing and customer experience.

Peter:

Absolutely right. So the worst thing you can do either do nothing to hibernate, or to just keep doing the same thing expecting a same result.

Fiona:

Yes. Okay, I’m gonna let you go now.

Peter:

Thank you Fiona. It was great chatting with you.

Fiona:

Thank you so much, for coming…

Peter:

Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Fiona:

I always enjoy a good chat. I’m guessing, if someone wants to contact you, where do they contact you?

Peter:

Well they can contact me via email. They can go to the website peterstrohkorb.com, and they can go to my LinkedIn profile and link in with me.

Fiona:

Okay, perfect, great. I’ll put those links in the show notes too.

I hope you keep doing what you’re doing. It sounds amazing that you’re really getting this time to help these businesses re-assess things in this crisis, so I hope you keep having fun…

Peter:

No thank you Fiona. It was great chatting to you, and everyone please take me up on my offer. It will be to your own benefit.

Thank you, bye.

Fiona:

Awesome.

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