Video Length: 1:13:34
David Ding: Kia ora koutou. Welcome everyone. We've got a special guest today. John Dean, otherwise known as JD from Sales Director Central, a company that provides fractional, part time sales directors to help founders and business owners to scale up revenue. So I'll hand over to you, to JD, to do an intro.
John Dean: Fantastic. Do we, shall I get started now or wait a couple of minutes for some others to join?
David Ding: Kick straight into it.
John Dean: Kick straight on, fantastic OK. So thank you. Thank you, David, for the opportunity of presenting today. So as you said, my name is JD. I am the co founder of an organization called Sales Director Central. I'll, I'll touch a little bit on what we do a little bit later. The talk today is really around accelerating revenue in startups, and I'm going to, I'm going to base the beginning of the talk on a concept called research phase to scale up phase and getting people to identify where they're at in that journey. And also share some insight from we've now worked with probably a little over a hundred organizations that are going from research to scale up phase. I'll share some of the insights that we see in the marketplace. So thank you for thank you for, for coming on.
This is going to be a super interactive session, guys and David, happy for you to reiterate that as, as more come in the room as you can see. If you, if you have questions we're gonna have a q and a at the end, but if you have a question you wanna throw at me during the, the session please throw it out there. I'm also gonna ask you a couple of questions as we go through. My aim, ultimately, I'm going to get to a slide in a sec. My aim is to maybe change the way you think about sales for a moment in this presentation.
So at Sales Director Central, our purpose is to use the power of sales to unleash the superpowers of those crazy enough to believe they can change the world. And by talking about people crazy enough to change the world, what we're referring to is founders and investors in those founders. Our no fail promise of value. We did a variety of workshops with some customers and unmistakably the response they came back was we create predictable and sustainable results within organizations.
John Dean: So that is our no fail promise of value. To customers just for a second to, to do some some high level mission and value statements. From a positioning perspective, we help companies sell a complex product to an infrequent buyer. Happy to dive into this. I don't think I've got too much of this planned in the presentation.
And I'm also happy to, as I said, take questions and go down a little bit of a rabbit hole if someone wants me to drill a bit deeper. Complex product typically. It could be any layer of complexity, but it's typically an online product. So there's some layer of complexity either to the product or to the organization, the processes they'll go through.
And an infrequent buyer invariably runs a cost center in a larger organization. So infrequent buyers are people, as the term suggests, they don't buy very often. Invariably, they believe the process within their organization is quite a simple one. Pardon me, to navigate. And so they might say, Hey, there's probably a couple of signatures and we should be good.
And when they go internally to start finding out about that process, what they find is there's a lot more, a lot more signatures. In fact, I'll share a quick story right now. One of the things that we do for our, our, our clients is we interview their customers, if that makes sense, so our clients customers.
This particular client sells procurement software and I talk to the head of procurement for a government agency in New South Wales. And during the interview I've got about a half hour interview and I'm interested in all sorts of things, from creating a business case internally, getting signed off for a project.
How to get into his diary. There's a whole variety of things that I kind of unpack. Anyway, so the head of procurement for government agency, and I said to him, if you add up all of the people in your organization that you spoke to, it's a 70, 000 dollar ARR deal. Just to give a context, if you think about all the people you spoke to, to get this deal across the line, how many was there?
And he started answering and said, I think I know the answer to that. And I said, before you give me the answer, I want you to think about all the EAs, PAs, all the people that could stop an opportunity with, stop this project happening within your organization. And he said, yeah, JD, I'm really clear, really clear. The answer is three. And I got to tell you, a little bit of me died and I'm like, it can't be three. It's government agency. There's no chance you only spoke to three people to get this deal across the line. Anyway, I continue. I've got half an hour worth of stuff. I'm really interested and again, it's something for everyone on this, on this call.
If you've got a customer, interview them around the things that happen in their back office, the things that happen around how they get access to money, the budgeting process, all, all, all variety of things. This is a fascinating exercise anyway. And I continued the the interview with him. And he said about two minutes later, he said, Oh, Joe, I forgot two people. I forgot the CTO and the head of cyber.
And I said, okay, so it's five. And then I forgot about, I forgot about, I forgot about, so we went from five to seven to nine to 13 to, I forgot about the ELT. I forgot about the steering committee. We got the number to 14, 30 minutes later. So, so. Just to put it in context, the head of procurement didn't know within his organization how many people he needed approval for, so all of those 14, and the number may have been higher because he kept coming up with things, all of those 14 could have said no.
So all of those 14, including head of cyber and the head of security, which invariably, sorry, head of cyber and head of CTO, all of them could have absolutely kiboshed the whole thing happening. The challenge with infrequent buyers and the reason we now have our customers navigate this is invariably the prospect we're selling to, the one or two people we've got in contact with, go through an evaluation cycle with us.
And during that process, they don't do any internal selling. And so what invariably happens is they get to a point where they say, okay, we know who we're going to go with. Then they go internally and start doing that. We actually call that infrequent buy, that process, the last mile of a deal. And it's an area in which most opportunities stall in, in our opinion. Most pipelines have a variety of things that are stuck either in late in the process, invariably, and I'm going to talk about that a little bit later, but they're stuck in the, the, hey, it's one or two signatures and they realize, actually, this is a lot more people we need to talk to.
Another really quick story interviewed an executive from Telstra. Maybe about two years ago, mid Covid, and I said to him, Larry was his name head of a business unit in Telstra and I said, Larry, how many people does it take to sign off a 350k CapEx deal? So that was a thing my client was selling, this capEx stuff. Massive batteries that Telstra would use. And he said, oh JD, I added this up the other day. He said, first thing I need to tell you is 10 years ago, I had 600 people reporting to me. Now I've got three. It's a really interesting context to his answer.
And then he said to me, I added it up the other day. All the EAs, PAs, everybody, it's 37. Which, which I think surprised him when he went through or did it, but there's 37 people who can either stall something, make it go no that have some sort of input and they may not be signatories. I'm not saying there's 37 signatures on a deal, there isn't, but there's 37 people have input to whether this thing actually starts happening or not. Whether it conforms to the business drivers, the business initiatives, etc.
Spent too long on this slide. Anyway, so they're the sorts of people that we help as we go through. So what I'm going to talk about today. So we're going to start by sharing some research on what we call WSOs, which is winning sales organizations. I'm going to look at some more research on a graph called risk versus price.
It's probably the most requested slide when we present this. We're going to look at research versus scale up phase and the differences between both of those. I'm going to talk about product versus problem. Most companies we see early on in, in the evolution of getting their product to market stay in either research phase or product phase far too long.
And they continually want to get good feedback on the product, and they lean too heavily, in our opinion, on the product, and we're going to talk about that. We're going to talk about things you should start and stop, mostly stuff you should stop. We're going to look at what we see, and then at the end, I'm going to offer some of my time some, 30 minute free session if you're comfortable doing a LinkedIn recommendation for me, I'll touch on that at the end. Sorry. And last bit of what we can do. Wow. There's an extra little piece to that slide.
So I really want to stimulate some thinking right now. If you think about and create some actionable ideas and customer centric, if you think about your organization today and the challenges you might have, and if you come at it from a, here are the things I can affect and change.
So you may say our website is, is terrible. If that's not something you can impact in the next month, potentially. Then just let's just park that. So if you think about some of the challenges you have in the business at the moment, the economy, for example, I can't change and modify that. What are some of the things from a business perspective that are really challenged with?
Invariably, people come up with two or three. The most common one, one's invariably are, and I'm going to get you to give me some feedback in a moment to understand which direction I want to take this presentation. Is it creating pipeline? That's a challenge for a lot of organization. Deals slipping at the end.
So right at the beginning of the sales cycle, right at the end of the cycle, or is it something else? So one is not enough pipeline. Two is deals slipping at the end of the cycle, that last mile I referred to or in a few words, what's something else you're really struggling with right now? And I'll try and make sure I touch on it in this presentation.
So if you could type into chat. Either one for pipeline, two for qualification, three some brief words, I can, I'll then start as I said, melding some of this information. My objective in this, on this meeting is to really understand where you guys are at and figure out how I might be able to help you take a step forward.
David Ding: I can actually share some stuff on that, JD. The typical thing that we see as Callaghan Innovation working with a founder is the transition out of R& D and onto commercialization and product market fit. So they find, if you're a, if you're a technical founder, they really struggle to deliver product market fit and to have a grunty sales conversation with someone to perhaps like their alpha tester or their beta tester to co design the MVP. There's a glass ceiling right there. So just to provide some context. Maybe that can help steer it a bit.
John Dean: It said R& D commercialization can you, can you go a layer deeper than that in terms of, from a, we think from a sales process perspective, what, what does that mean? Is it, is it finding the clients for the product? Is it, well, what's the?
David Ding: Well, if you, with research and development, you're, you're proving that the innovation does what you expected it to do with, with, and the last piece of that is product market fit, which is how can you take that innovation and create a product around it that someone wants to pay for?
So you'll create a whole bunch of assumptions, with your alpha tester and you'll tailor it and sculpt it using fail fast until there's something that they're willing to pay for ongoing. And then you, then you develop your MVP. So.
John Dean: I'm going to go with that as a, as a notion or this is some, I can't see the chat. Is this any other questions or answers there?
David Ding: No.
John Dean: Okay. Everyone's happy with that. I'll attempt to deal with both of those as we go through. So the first thing I'm going to do is, is share some research from a company called Miller Heiman who came up with a process called blue sheeting and then gold sheets which is a, a sales methodology I'm going to talk to that a little bit later.
What they did was they did some research and they found that organizations that out competed against their peers, what they started identifying them as is winning sales organizations. So here are four things that organizations that outcompete against their peers do consistently.
I'll go through these reasonably quickly. There's four different ones, price concessions, proposals, plans, and stop. The first one is with concessions. The first piece is when we give a price concession, when we give a discount, we always get a comparable value in return. So if I'm giving a price to a customer, that's the best and best and final offer, that's a fair price.
If they want me to discount it, what can I get back from them, which is value in return? Payment in advance, PR case study, reference site, what are the things that you can give us that facilitate some some other value to the next one. The next one is proposals. We always know what key individuals, and I just touched on the key individuals of the opening, in a prospect organisation, think about proposals. And, and again, what we want to do is start writing a document. I'm going to think I'm going to touch on this a little bit later. When a prospect asks for a proposal in a later slide, I've got pro templates are killing your business.
If you've templated a proposal within your business, then templates tend to be quite ubiquitous in terms of the value we offer, et cetera. What we need to do is understand how an organization is going to make a buying decision and then tailor our documentation to suit that. So, the more we have, it is another example, an organization I did, I did a workshop with in April and one of the people in the team said, JD, I did exactly what you said, they asked for a proposal. I said, okay, thank you for that. What should I write in the proposal? She said, two things happened. One is they used, they used they had terminology that we never would have used. She said, secondly, typically when we give a proposal, it's a two to three month window before they go ahead.
They bought 150K in four hours. So understanding the customer, feeding that back to them, there's a, I'm going to talk a little bit later about being a good consultant. Feeding back, there's a concept in consulting called steal your watch and tell you the time. So steal your watch is understand all about the watch. Is it analog? Is it digital? Does it track heart rate? Is it for image? Is it, you know, blah, blah, blah. You want to ask all about it. And then when they say, what do you, what do you do, don't give them the whole pitch of what you do. Just repeat back what you heard from them and say, hey, we do this really well.
Anyway so that's around proposals. The next one is around we consistently utilize comprehensive prospecting plans. Most people we talk to don't have a prospect plan. It is a really good idea to have some consistent process as you're going into commercialization to understand how are you going to get prospects, how you're going to start filling the pipeline up. And last one is we have an established procedure to know when to stop investing in large deals. So when tenders come out, et cetera, what is the process that we have to facilitate those things? So they're the five, they're the four key things that they saw in winning sales organizations. So have a think about your organization and which of those you want to start focusing on a little bit more to improve your capability.
John Dean: Next bit of research is can you, David, can you see my mouse at the moment? Yeah, fantastic. So the level of buyer's concern. So this is, this is a graph that looks at the role in the buyer's role in the market.
And so early on, customers are in solution development mode and we send our people out. That's what we do in a discovery meeting. In the middle time slice, customers evaluating, and we look at our product, our service, our offering, our capability, the thing that we have. And at the end, the customer's looking to make a commitment, and they look at our company. How long have you been around? What does the P& L look like in a bigger organization? You know, can I sue you, etc. So, so what's the roadmap, etc. So there's three time slices, and I'm going to, I'm going to graph four things against this. So up here, the buyer is really worried. Down here, the buyer is not worried.
So I'm going to map four things based on on this time slice here and the assumption at the end is they're going to make a decision. Our belief is your biggest competitor is no decision and that's going to work its way into some more things that we do facilitate during this. So the first one is customer's need.
So the customer starts out reasonably high. They're worried about their own needs. It grows higher. So as they start the process, they start talking to more and more people. They may evolve their needs and they may be continue to be worried about it. But the needs dies down towards the end because they think they understand their needs in the solution development mode and they stop worrying about it towards the end of the deal.
Right, so the needs start out reasonably high, get higher, they're really worried about it, and then drop down to being almost inconsequential late in the deal. So when's a bad time to be talking to a prospect about some of their needs? It's late in the deal when they think they've already sorted it over here.
The next thing is cost or price. So cost starts out reasonably high. You know, if you've got, if you've got enough money to buy a brand new to, if you've got 30, 000 dollars in Australia, you can't buy a brand new Porsche. So you want to kind of know early, kind of what rate, what roughly is the price. That's our cost question early. It dies down in the middle because in the middle, they've already figured out early on kind of a rough valuation, whether they can afford or not. When they're evaluating, they don't care on what the price is. But cost or price becomes more important. So cost increases from a customer's perspective as the deal goes on and suddenly they become more focused on. So again, the customer is all concerned about price towards the end of the deal. Makes sense.
Solution starts out really low. So if we have, you know, I've got a later slide talking about discovery calls. If we're talking about our product early on in a sale, we're wasting our time, they're worried more about their needs, or the problem they have. They're not worried about our solution and how we sort it out. In the middle time slice, that's the thing they're most focused on, is our solution, because that makes sense, they're evaluating. And the need and solution become very low priority bedfellows when they're trying to make a commitment. So at the end of a deal, the need or the solution, the thing that you're selling is kind of irrelevant. They don't want to know about it early and they don't really want to know about it late in the deal. So really, really interesting.
Most founders we see at an early part of the commercialization cycle focus far too much on if you don't see my stuff, you won't be able to buy it because we've got this brand new thing in the marketplace. And it's, it's just actually not true. So the solution is relevant early. Don't, don't talk about it in the first meeting, focus on it in the middle and where we're different. And then, and then towards the end, it becomes less relevant again. Again, happy to take questions as we go through. If something bubbles up, or happy to take them towards the end.
The last one is risk. Here's the big message from this slide. Early on, the customer's not concerned about their risk. And that's not the risk of buying you, it's the risk to their organization. They become more and more concerned and so risk, risk is the most important thing towards the end. All those customers in your pipeline that haven't bought is because we haven't understood their risk to their organization and or we haven't understood the business value of what it is that we're going to solve for them.
So the reason, one of the main reasons why people don't go ahead is we haven't understood or elaborated risk. And or the risk of doing nothing is greater than the risk of buying something. So I'm going to say that again. The risk of doing nothing is greater than the risk of buying something. So it just doesn't create the value in the organisation.
So risk is far more important than price. You've never lost a deal ever on price, is our belief. And again, need and solution are really very down low. So if you've got deals in your pipeline in, in your, your system that have slipped and slipped and slipped. I'm going to suggest to you you have go back and have a risk conversation. Hey, Mrs. Prospect, Mr. Prospect, what is the risk to your organization if you do nothing?
Again, I'm going to talk about that on a, on a subsequent slide. So risk is a really big driver and it's a really big reason why most sales organizations, Mary said, we're fine. She's going to go and get the approval. When the internal sale happens with they haven't understood their own business risk well enough to elaborate why they need to go and spend 70, 000, a million dollars, whatever the number is, doesn't really matter.
Are there any questions around that? It's a very complex graph. There's a whole bunch to take in. Again, the key real key point in this is we need to understand risk from a customer's perspective on, on, if you do nothing, the question is, if you do nothing for the next 12 months in your organization, what is the impact to your business?
And if the impact to your business.
David Ding: Sorry, I'm interested in this one because we see this a lot. What are your thoughts on dealing with, like, do you guess what kind of risks might pop up and address them early?
John Dean: You, you, I don't mind that as a mechanism to start a conversation happening, never guess though.
So the, you really need to understand what are the organizational risks? What are you trying to, what are you trying to solve early on? So, most, most people in what we call research phase just want to show the stuff. They just want to do, just want to show the solution to people, right? What we want to do is understand risk here when it's not important, and then reiterate it, latent deals, say hey, our risk, as far as we understand, this is the risk to your organization if you do nothing.
If you do nothing, you've got brand problems, you've got whatever the... Whatever the thing that you, the business issue and the business risk that you solve, we want to elaborate what that is rather than rather than, hey, if you, you know, we'll take our price from 20 grand down to 5 grand or 10 grand, some other, some other thing.
Does that, does that answer the question?
David Ding: Yeah, that makes sense.
John Dean: A little bit on, on risk. Are there any other questions on, on this graph? There's a lot to take in. Happy to send it to you. If you want to get a copy of it, send a note to David and I'll I'll get a copy of this graph to you. It's a really key one, as I said, because in my, in my mind, one of the biggest reasons why deals slip and slide is that we haven't done enough time understanding risk. We spend a lot of time understanding partly their need. We spend a lot of time understanding what we're selling and how much. I'm going to talk about that in a second.
John Dean: So to the thing we call the founders, the founders life cycle, and I've probably gone over a bit a little bit too early on based on what you said a little bit earlier.
So from a founder's perspective, they've identified a problem in the marketplace and they've seen a gap, right? So they say, hey, well, isn't it really weird that no one actually does that thing? So they get super excited about the fact that no one solved it, as I have in a variety of businesses. And so having identified a gap and seen a gap and identified a problem, they then get excited about creating a product to try and get to MVP and, and go to market with that.
So seeing a gap in the market, they create a product. They then create the product and they want to show everyone they're going to get feedback from everybody as much as they possibly can, and they get in a bit of a vicious cycle for us around focusing really heavily on what the product does, its capability. Is there more things I need to build into it? Where is it at right now? The product, I don't need to tell anyone on this call, maybe, or maybe I do. The product is always going to evolve. No, no product, even a 30 year old product in the marketplace, it's always going to have an evolution. There's always going to be new features, more functions, more capability. It's never going to be finished.
The challenge is then that in these two phases we get stuck in this what we call a research phase where we go looking for revenue and we go and show everyone because no one's seen what the no one's seen our product because it's a gap or a problem that no one had solved before. So we get this, this focus or this myopic process of, hey, if I don't show people, they won't know about it. And I've talked to far too many founders that say, all we need to do is show more people and more people will buy. And it's, it's absolutely not true. If you think about that graph, it's round about the risk.
John Dean: So that's what we see as the founders life cycle. I'm then going to talk to what I call, Research phase and scale up phase. So in research phase, let me define that for a moment. We've become very product centric. We, we get very focused and rightly so. Does the product do everything it needs to do? What other capabilities should I bring it in? There's a mindset or an attitude of, let me show you, I want to prove to you that this thing works.
And I'm reminded of a, of another story. An organization we, we did some work with two or three years ago, had Department of Defense as a really big Canberra client. And they'd been an existing client of theirs for some years. And my business partner was talking to them about a 300k bit of business and they'd scheduled two days later to drive down to Canberra and show them this new capability. And so there was this attitude of approach of, hey, let me shoot, let me prove we can solve that for you. And, and we believe that's an unhealthy process.
Anyway, my business partner had a chat to them about it. He halfway through it, he says, Hey, guys, why don't we just send them a statement of work for 300k? And they're like, is that going to work? He said I don't know, let's just see how we go. They sent them a statement of work for 300k and 24 hours later, they signed it and sent it back. It's a great, it's a cracking story, right?
But the whole point is. Let's not get into the, hey, I need, I'm taking on the world, I need to prove to you this thing works and or I want to show it to you because once you see it, you're going to think this is the most amazing thing you've ever seen and therefore it's going to knock your socks off and you're going to go through and buy it.
So it's a really big element of what we see a lot of people in, in research phases. In research phase, we focus on what we're selling and how much. So the pipeline is full of 10 users of blah, blah, blah. And this is going to be 50 million, 1, 000 dollars, whatever the number is. We're very focused on the thing that we sell, the product early.
We do a race to proposal. So we try and get to proposal and have templates for proposals as quickly as we possibly can. And most important one is deals progress by gut instinct. Deals progress because Mary said we're in good shape because Frank said there's only two more people I need to talk to. So deals progress based on our gut instinct and what we hear and see from the prospect, not based on the organizational goals and drivers and the things that we need to be starting to focus on.
In scale up phase we take a different, we take a different approach. Instead of understanding being product centric, we understand the problem and the customer. So we spend far more time not talking about our product. In fact, we don't talk about our product. We understand the problem they're trying to solve and we understand the customer. I've got a later slide that says stop focusing on a 70, 000 dollar solution. Start focusing on a million dollar problem. So the shift is not into, hey, look at how cool my kit is, the shift is, let me understand how much of a problem you have and the things you need to do to get sign off on that.
And I'm reminded I I used to listen to a guy called Zig Ziglar, who was an American guy who was a sales trainer. I had his cassette tapes in my car. Yes, I'm absolutely that old. And I would listen to them. One of his cassette tapes said, this is a slides from either late seventies or early eighties. I was listening to them late eighties. And he said, if you're a funeral director. How do you look sad at a 30, 000 dollar funeral?
And I'm always reminded of that when you're talking to a customer, we really want to elaborate, Hey, what's the problem? Have you tried to solve it? What does that look like? Who in the business, who in the, who, what, who's the executive in the business that understands the problem? Does it have support?
Is there a project already? We want to understand everything about the problem rather than, hey, let me tell you how we solve that. Let me tell you how clever we are. So we understand the problem and the customer. We only want to show the prospect what they need. We don't want to prove it and show them how clever we are.
And in fact, I might add this on a later slide, if you're trying to be the smartest person in the room, you're missing the point. You want to make the prospect the smartest person in the room, because they can solve the product. If you're trying to be the smartest person in the room by saying, hey, look at how funky my stuff is, we're coming at it from a completely wrong, different perspective.
Instead of what and how much, our focus really changed in scale up phase trying to understand whose going to buy, who are all the people going to buy, when are they going to buy, and really importantly, why they're going to buy. What is the risk they're trying to mitigate within their organisation? That's a really big shift. If your pipeline right now is all about what we sell and how much, and you don't know who, when and why, then, then at least 50 percent of your pipeline is never going to make a buying decision, or they might buy. Whereas if we understand the who, when, and why, we can qualify out our deals later. And I'm going to talk about gut instinct.
Instead of a right race to the proposal, we want to help them write a business case. So what are the things you need to do to get sign off on this? What does that look like? Can you show me an old business case? Have you got a redacted one you can share with me? So rather than get a document that says, here's the 70K and what to do with it. As I said, templates are killing your business. How do we write a custom based thing specifically to an organization that cuts down the friction of the last mile for a customer? So how do we help them write a business case? And part of that is we need to understand that process.
And the last thing is in, in scale up phase, we analyze deals and we qualify out early. So we have a structured approach to understanding whether someone's going to buy rather than, hey, I'm in good shape because Mary said we're, they're going to buy from us.
And crikey, that's, that's true of everyone. We've got a customer, a prospect in our organization for the last six months, every two months, they say they're going to go ahead and they just haven't. Right. So everyone falls folly to that, but we're very we're very rigid about qualifying whether you're actually a customer or not and what you look, what that looks like and the understand the problems and issues you're trying to solve.
So what do you notice about the left side here compared to the right side? This is all about us. This is our product. Let me show you. I can prove it. What and how much race proposal gut instinct. This is all about us. This side is all about the customer. So the biggest thing for me in going from research phase to scale up phase is we want to get away from having this product centric view of the world.
We're always going to evolve the product. As I said in that earlier slide, we're always going to continue to, to have a better understanding of the capability and the things that we're going to bake into the, the platform. What we want to do is get very customer centric. And if you think about all the work we do, it's getting organizations far more customer centric and understanding all of these key components and therefore qualifying out of deals that, you know. So invariably people we talk to, they're talking to organizations that just can't make a buying decision.
We did some work with a company that sells to the healthcare market. And literally, we just started working with them a couple of months ago, there's a salesperson in that business that had a $4 million pipeline for this quarter to September, $4 million pipeline on a 2 million target. They ended the quarter at 30, 000 dollars.
So it's an example. It's a pretty extreme example, but all I need for half of those deals were any good. And if a quarter of those were half of those, we're going to, to actually make a buying decision, he'd be at a million dollars right now and over well over half his target. So we really need to spend more time elaborating, understanding why the customer is going to buy rather than whether they like our stuff or not. So most people's pipelines are full of organizations that like our kit, if you like. They're not full of organizations that have to make a buying decision.
John Dean: So we did some research within a a company called Wholesale Investor. We went through and researched they, they surveyed 3, 000 organizations and we, we then fed some of the data of the research into ChatGPT, has anyone heard of ChatGPT?
We, we fed the data into that. What we got was some really interesting results. So, oh, sorry, gone through that. Of 35 percent that had sales plans had an 80 percent better correlation to being successful. 60 percent that had no sales plans also reduced their revenue, reduced their ability to earn revenue. The 50 percent that had a sales methodology had a 70 percent better chance of achieving better sales outcomes.
In fact, I read a stat the other day, there's a sales methodology called MEDDPICC which is super popular in the U. S. There's about 30 sales methodologies, and we help organizations pick one that's the right size, but they put, they implemented MEDDPICC and I think they got a 311 percent better close rate, just because they had a structured way of looking at customer data, like it's a, it's a massive amount.
People, 50 percent didn't do a demo in the first meeting. There's a 95 percent better correlation to growth if you don't show your product in the first meeting.
David Ding: Wow.
John Dean: It's massive. I was stunned with the results. 95 percent better correlation if you don't show your product, because...
David Ding: Do you have any thoughts on why that is? Sorry do you have any thoughts on why that might be?
John Dean: Remember the graph? Product is irrelevant. They're not focused on it. So trying to show our stuff is really, really, really not important. And there's a bunch of data points to, to underline that. So if we're showing our product in the first, in the first meeting, it harms our ability to actually win a bit of business.
Because we're spending too long, we're spending far too long talking about us and not enough time talking about them. Let me do, let me be a tiny bit contentious for the people who have got a partner. If you, if you met your partner, I don't know, in a pub, at a party, online, whatever the process is, if you spent, the time talking about yourself when you go and meet somebody, the same time you spend talking about your product, you'll never meet anybody, right?
When you go and meet somebody, which is a different sale of different component, I don't want you to do this, I don't want anyone to be, you know, off put by this. If you were to go and meet someone, you tend to be interested in them. What are your likes and desires? What do you do on the weekend? You, you, you're really more asking lots more questions about them.
Selling is no different. If you think about, if you think about meeting someone somewhere, a pub, at a party, whatever that, whatever the environment is at work, you spend all the time understanding them. Why do we spend all this time talking about how brilliant our product is? It really is relevant.
And the last one is 40 percent of the people had no proposal template and they had a 50%, 55 percent higher ability to be successful. So proposals are killing your business. Don't show your product, have a sales methodology and have a plan about how you're going to achieve the revenue you want to try and achieve. So some of the key, key drivers.
John Dean: So the next piece that I want to get on. Conscious David, I want to make sure I don't run over too, too hard. I want to talk to you about a concept called the buyer's journey. And the buyer's journey, I find the buyer's journey coming up increasingly in the conversations we have with our customers. There's a bunch of things on this slide. I want to simplify this slide a little bit to you. In a book by a guy called Hugh McFarlane called The Leaky Funnel.
I think, I don't think he's the first person to reference this process, but he does, he, he's got a series of if you, if you think about a graph where customers starting the unaware, I'm not, I'm not aware I've got the problem, to I'm aware I've got the problem, but I'm not doing about it, to I'm evaluating the marketplace, to I'm making a decision, to I'm making a commitment.
Every step in that would have a different measure from an organization. So what I mean by that is if you're unaware, if I'm got a product that no one's seen in the marketplace and no one's really looking for it, the most of the people you're talking to are going to be unaware they've got the problem.
So you might say to them, Hey, do you know, there's a better solution for picking your kids up from school? I didn't realize that was an issue. If you're aware you've got the problem, you might say, hey, picking the kids up from school, you've got a 10 percent greater opportunity of having a motor accident. There's a far better solution for that.
So there's slightly different messaging. I've picked a really bad example. There's slightly different messaging, but you would message things differently. If you're aware and you're in and you're in a value, if you're in researching mode, then if you're looking for a different solution, picking your kids up, we should be included. You'd have a different message.
All of these stages will have a different set of messages. The problem with most organizations is, they appeal only to the very last part of making a decision. Here's my product, here's my capability. It only really deals with people who are aware from a buying journey that they need to make a buying decision, right?
So if you look at your website right now, how much of it talks to the product, the features, the function, the capability of it? The answer is, because we've seen lots and lots and lots of websites. I've seen hundreds of websites. Most websites deal with people late in a process. They're not dealing with the people that are unaware they've got a problem or the people that are aware, but aren't doing anything.
So if you think about some of the messaging, as you think about some of the stuff that you're doing, I talked to literally a prospect yesterday, sorry, customer on yesterday. And he said, JD, I've got all these LinkedIn ads and they're kind of working. So they're going from LinkedIn ad to my website and then they're, it's killing it.
And I said, I had a look at his website and his website talked all about him. There was no lead magnet. There was no, here are the three biggest problems with, with he does a data cleansing process and improving procurement. He didn't talk to any of the problems. When the customer landed on the website, there was no problem statement of, hey, we helped solve this issue.
So what we want is a website marketing proposals that don't talk about the thing that we sell, but talk about the problem and elaborate that a lot easier. This is really important and really key because if we don't understand where the buyer's at in the journey, I had one customer it was a big corporate based out of Canada and they had five steps in the buying cycle and five steps in the sales cycle on a slide.
And I distinctly remember this one deal review we did where a customer was evaluating requirements and we're in proposing solution. And so the customer is in stage 2 of the buying journey, we're in stage 4 of the selling journey. How you can be out of sync doesn't make sense to me. If we don't understand where the buyer's at then that's where we get far, we go from, let me show you the product to, to let me present it to you to let me do a proposal on it. And they may still be in problem, problem aware or unaware. It could be still in an earlier process. So have a think about the buyer's journey and how it relates to where you're at within your process.
What you'll find is you're getting, you're going far too quick through a journey. What we should be doing is having a more buyer centric view. If you think about the CRMs you have, it's all about the sales stages. We need to have a more buyer centric view of everything that we do. So one of the big things that we do from a scale up perspective is we get people far more focused on the buying process and far less process processed on the sales process. So that the buyer's journey is a really key part.
John Dean: So the secret to selling is, selling isn't telling. Selling hasn't been about telling for eons. Selling is, stop telling them how good your product is, ask questions and be a good consultant. Selling isn't telling. Selling isn't telling them about the functionality or the capabilities. Selling isn't about any of those things.
In my mind, I've said be a good consultant, but the other way sometimes I frame this when we're hiring salespeople is, I want, I want a salesperson to be business curious. So be curious about the business. Why would they buy something? What's happened? What is the impact on their organization?
If they were to make this investment, what would the impact be to their, to their organization the next 12 months? If they don't do it for 12 months, what happens to, what happens to their business? From a, be a consultant perspective, most people think that selling is this thing where we do this magic pitch deck or we have this, this capability which knocks their socks off and we create a product which is gonna sell itself and fly off the shelves and all that sort of stuff.
And it's, it's actually not true. Consultants, what do consultants do that's really effective is they ask loads and loads and loads of questions. They're business curious. They frame everything from a consulting perspective in a customer's view, and we send that customer stuff back to them. So there's a concept here. I'm not sure everyone or anyone's aware of it called I think I said, talked about it a little bit earlier, which is steal your watch and tell you the time. So steal the watches. What does the watch look? You're after a watch. Great. Is it analog? Is it digital? What do you want to track? How are you trying to do it? Does it need to be waterproof? Is heart rate an issue? Is sleep a problem? I want to understand everything about it. Is it an image thing? What are you trying to facilitate by getting a watch?
Once you've asked all, exhausted all of those questions from a consulting perspective. You then tell them the time. So when the customer says, here are the three things I want, you say, fantastic. We do a whole bunch of stuff. The three things we really focus on are the three things that we use the terminology back to them. It's really simple, right? So let's stop with this. Hey, we do a variety of things, aren't we fantastic.
Let's come back to hey the three things you've got a really massive problem with are things we solve. Or the three things you, you want to solve are not things that we're very good at. I'm sorry, we're going to remove ourselves from this process. Either or, the customer is going to tell you a bunch of stuff if you ask them the right questions. So, selling isn't about telling, it's about asking wise questions. It's about being business curious and being a good consultant. That's the whole secret to this entire presentation.
John Dean: So what does a good consultant do? They ask questions, they ask more questions, they create really good context. They understand the pain and they use a framework to qualify it.
They do, they say things like, Hey, we see this problem all the time. I remember talking to a founder about two and a half years ago. It was about two or three of them in, in, in the course of a month. And I said, and he said, I've hired and fired three people. And I said, Hey Hugh, Hugh, we see this all the time. The reason for that is this. So what we're doing is we're saying to 'em, Hey, what you, the problem issues you've got, we get it. We see it. And, and I don't need to say how I'm an expert at it, if I say to you, I, we see it all the time. The reason is these components, without saying I'm an expert, I'm actually saying, oh, hey, yeah, I get it. I understand we solve these things because we understand what we call we understand the symptom, we understand the cause, and we understand the root. And I'm gonna talk on that in a second.
So they're the key questions that consult. What happens if you do nothing? Is this project to get budget or is it to spend budget? Have you already got a budget? I love, I love asking in the budget questions. I love asking question, which is, is there a project for this already? And does it have a name? Because if a project has a name, it's got a budget, it's got an amount, and someone's allocated some process to that, so they've actually gone through a business case to facilitate it.
Who is involved in making a decision? Who is involved in spending money? And do you have to have this in place? When do you have to have this in place? If you do nothing for 12 months, what happens to your organization? If the answer is nothing, it happens in 12 months. If we do nothing, then there's no impact in their business. That's what we call a critical event or a burning platform in depending upon the sales methodology and that ain't ideal for you.
John Dean: So let me just touch on for a moment what discovery is. Does everyone know what I mean by discovery or do I need to explain that a little bit more?
David Ding: I'd be keen to hear your interpretation for sure.
John Dean: So discovery fundamentally is the first meeting with a prospect. So we had that earlier slide. There was a 95 percent correlation between showing the product, sorry, not showing the product and winning a deal. Discovery is that first meeting when we first start talking to a prospect, whether it's an outreach program or an inbound lead.
Inbound tend to be later in a buying cycle. Outreach tends to get people potentially earlier in a cycle. They could be late, but invariably they're early in a cycle. So discovery is that first meeting with somebody, where we go and have a conversation with them. And I want to talk about things that we shouldn't do and things that we should do in that context.
So the first one we don't want to do in discovery is talk about ourselves. In fact, my unpublished book is called I Dare You, which is I dare you not to talk about your company or your product in the first meeting. And it's, it's fair dinkum dare. With some of my clients, there's a hundred dollars. It's a, it's an honor system because I don't track all, I don't spend all the time with my clients meeting prospects.
If you, if you talk about your company and your product proactively in a sales meeting, you have to pay a hundred dollars to a charity of your choice. Right? So we take it quite seriously. We don't want to show our capability. We don't want to sell anything to them. We don't want to have a race to proposal and get to a proposal quickly.
We don't want to get referred elsewhere. So discovery meetings, hey, David, thank you for taking this meeting. You really need to talk to Frank. He's got a project because what just happened when you got referred. You don't sound like me, you sound like a techie person. I did, I think David, the way I met you, I don't want to mention their name, but I, I, I met you via a couple of guys, I don't know if they're on the call or not at an event, and I said, I said to them during the event, I said, so what, what is it you guys do?
And they spent 15 minutes. I don't want to give away too much about what they do because it might identify who they are. They spent 15 minutes talking to me. I'm going to, I'm going to mention a little bit of it about democratizing a DAO. And I kept coming back and saying, guys, that's great. What does that mean?
Like, I don't understand it. And 20 minutes later, I still didn't understand what the problem they were trying to solve was. And it was super frustrating because if I don't understand what the problem is, how do I understand how I can refer you or introduce you to someone, which is kind of the way I work.
What we want to be doing is we want to understand what is the problem. Be really clear about what the problem you solve is. When I talk to founders with an investor hat on. The one question I ask is, is what's the problem you solve and who do you serve? And if you, if you don't, if you're not really clear on both of those, I'm not interested in the rest of the conversation.
If you are really clear on those, I'm, I'm really interested in helping you uncover the next bit. Because, because understanding hey you need to, you need to see, I hear this constantly, you need to see my product to understand the value of it. I don't, I really don't need to see your product to understand the value of it. I need to understand the problem you solve and that needs to resonate with me. So, in terms of getting pipeline, stop talking about your product, start talking about the problem you solve and what are the business issues around that.
Anyway, so discovery isn't getting a race proposal, getting referred elsewhere. When you get referred to someone else, you sound like a technical person. You don't sound like you should talk to me because you don't understand the issues I have. And most executives are just not interested in, in seeing your product. Discovery is being genuinely interested in them. Helping rather than selling.
Understand the problem. Why do I have to act? What is the thing you have to do for you to, to move forward? And you get repeat access when you talk about business drivers and business values. We don't get referred to other people in the business because we understand the things that they're trying to achieve. Right? So discovery isn't about us. Discovery is about, again, probably the fourth slide where I've said, stop talking about yourself, start talking about the customer in a different way.
John Dean: So what is the only thing we measure in sales? And I'll start by saying this is a trick question. What do you think the answer is, David? What's the only thing we measure in sales?
David Ding: The dollars?
John Dean: Everyone's going to say revenue, right? The only thing we measure in sales is the revenue, no matter, or the dollars or, or whatever the component is. We believe the only thing we measure in sales is time. Stop wasting time. Stop talking to people who like your product. Start talking to buyers. If you think about achieving a sales target in a period of time, 12 months.
If you need to talk to 10 buyers, go and find 10 buyers. Don't talk to anybody who will listen. Anyone who's got an opportunity for you to do a pitch or a product piece too, because they can't buy it. The only thing we measure in sales is time. If you look in your diary two years ago at a month in which you're really busy, watch the excuses come out about, Oh yeah, no, that Mary was really cool. And then she left, or Frank had this thing, or they, they, they got bought out or whatever that process is. Spend more time understanding whether someone's going to make a buying decision or not.
So I'll, I'll go through and, and, and do this, cause this again might, might relate to a, a VP of a public listed company said to me right in the middle of COVID. And he said, JD, why do you think deals are fast at the beginning and then slow at the end? And I really thought about it. In fact, I was in my backyard pacing when I was talking to him about it. He said, deals are fast at the beginning and slow at the end. Any idea why they're fast at the beginning?
David Ding: Cause they're not thinking about risk.
John Dean: They're fast at the beginning because it's typically our process, it's our discovery, our presentation, our proposal, it's all the stuff that we do. It's slow at the end because it was never quick. So what I think he was identifying is, we're talking to people who are interested enough to see our product, interested enough to get a proposal, interested enough to go through the cycle we're going to go through, but actually never, it was slow at the end because it was never quick.
They were never in a buying decision. They were either unaware or aware. But they weren't far enough down the track to have to make a buying decision. So they didn't have that need to facilitate the end of the piece. So start, stop talking about your product, start talking about your passion. So some of the start and stops your product is irrelevant.
No one really wants to know about your product. What they do relate to is your passion because your passion talks to their problem. So we, we did this because, because there was a gap in the market and we wanted to facilitate that. That what the answer is to that piece, the passion talks to the problem that customers have.
So no one wants to buy your product. Well, they do are interested in why you did something. Stop looking for an 80, 000 solution. Start looking for a million dollar problem. I've touched on that already. No one wants to buy your product. And the last start and stop is to start tracking the buying process, not the selling process. So most CRMs are set up all about us. If we track the buying process and had quantifiable objectives in there, then the whole buying process would be far, look far different and facilitate a completely different outcome.
So if I told you the lunch today was going to be, so what is value when we do it? So it's, it's a jump to a certain extent to a different idea, but what is value? If I told you today lunch was going to be $50 Dave, is that cheap or expensive for whatever you're going to eat today?
David Ding: Expensive.
John Dean: Expensive. If you're going to a two hat restaurant with all you can eat and all you can drink for three hours, is that cheap or expensive?
David Ding: Cheap.
John Dean: No offense against vegans. If you're a vegan that doesn't drink alcohol, is it cheap or expensive?
David Ding: Expensive.
John Dean: Could be expensive. So the only thing that changes in those three paradigms is actually not value, it's the perception of value. So we talked about risk earlier on in that graph, understanding value from a customer's perspective, not, hey, yeah, we've got exactly that, we're in good shape, I can meet exactly your requirements, is a focus on us. Understanding value from a customer's perspective is really vitally important. And $50, our price is irrelevant because $50 could be cheaper or could be expensive based on someone's paradigm.
So two questions we're getting towards question time, so I'll probably finish in another 10 minutes. I want to tell you the haircut story. There's only one place in town that does haircuts. It's in a country town in New South Wales. It's a $20 haircut. They've been the only place in town for years. Everyone that gets a haircut goes to this one place. Someone starts up directly across the road from them and they all advertise $8 haircuts. What would you do?
David Ding: The cheapest one will be crap.
John Dean: Right, right. Do you go and get a new database? Would you start advertising to people? Like I said, you've gone from being the monopoly in town to having two. What these guys did was they put a massive sign on their window. And the sign said, we fix $8 haircuts. That's a, it's a lovely story of how do you get further up that food chain? So how do you add value to customers? And so they understood their market and they continue to do well.
The other thing is it was an interview I heard from the managing director of Harley Davidson. He's being interviewed on stage at an event and it was a wide ranging interview, but the interviewer at one stage said to the MD of Harley Davidson, so you will, will you guys sell motorbikes?
And he said, no, we don't. And the interviewer said, yeah, you do Harley Davidson, you sell motorbikes. He says, no, we don't sell motorbikes. We sell the ability for a 44 year old accountant, no offense to accountants to ride down the main street of a town and scare people. I love that notion that, that Harley Davidson is not about, you can buy a quicker motorbike, a noisier motorbike, a cheaper motorbike. There's, there's a whole variety of things, but Harley Davidson have absolutely created a consumer brand, which is a must have. And they've gone into apparel and a whole variety of other things.
What is it that you sell? Because it's not the product. And what you, what you sell is whatever that customer experience is, it's, it's the, the outcome we sell repeatable and sustainable results in our business. So we sell the ability to come in as a fractional sales leader and facilitate a meaningful conversation around some of those component parts.
So how do what do customers buy from you is a question. Do you solve a business problem or do you sell a product? How do you really add value? I'm going to skip this bit. Most websites, I've already talked to this, most, most websites talk about us, they don't talk about the problems you solve.
John Dean: We see this all the time. The reason is I'll talk to this one graph. In part of our business, we've defined what we call the pain chain. So the pain chain is here are the five problems, six problems, seven problems our customers have constantly. So you talked before, David, about understanding risk and where that, where that fits in your process.
If you've hired and fired salespeople, there's three reasons for that. So, hired and fired is a business pain within an organization. Invariably, they've looked in the wrong place for the wrong thing and you've left them to fail. So, let me explain what I mean. Looked in the wrong place, any job board, because sales is in your bag as a technical founder.
You've gone and hired a salesperson, the product should sell itself. So, if you can sell, then away we go, right? One and one equals three and away we go. They look for the wrong behavior, someone who's going to talk a lot. What they want is someone to be business curious, and we leave them to fail. Because they're not a salesperson, they don't provide any sales leadership, and the person is then left to flounder in their own devices.
So we see that over and over and over. So what I've done there is I've talked to the pain, I've talked to the problem, and I've talked to the reason for the problem. So none of that is me talking about our product, but in talking about all that, what I've come from experience levels, say someone. So I've had customers say, I've hired and fired three times let me painfully go through every bit of the process. This person cost me this much money. They did that. They waste their time here, etc.
Once they heard, once we've said this to them, they said, I don't know why, but we're going to hire again. So they realize that the ability of getting out of research phase and scale up phase is how do we make this a repeatable process where we can hire a sales team, we can scale revenue, most companies do a bad job. There's a bunch of, there's a whole bunch of other things in here. I just want to touch on that one from a pain perspective. So that's our pain chain and the things that we talk to with customers.
So here's what we see. There's no sales methodology in most businesses. There's no way of structured looking at customer data. The website is around the product, not around the business problem. Proposals and presentations all about us, not about the customer. This concept we've got called education versus qualifying. Educating is educating the marketplace. Let me show you the things that we do. Qualifying is understanding whether you're going to buy or not.
So again, that shift in focus, and rather than understanding what and how much, the focus becomes on not on why, when, and who, what is the risk. So what do you need to change? How do you add value? What are you going to do differently? And the last bit before I tell you a little bit about what we do is, if you're excited about the growth, you want to book a 30 minute mentoring session with me.
Then please hit me up on I should have put a six one in front of that on my mobile or email or email David, and I'd be happy to have a 30 minute mentoring session. If you're excited about the mentoring session, then, then I'll a recommendation on LinkedIn would be fantastic.
So what do we do when we come into business? We, we're a fractional sales leader. So we come into businesses that need to scale revenue. They get into that scale up phase. We implement what we call PAMICE which is our six pillars of peak performing teams. Planning, accountability, methodology, indicators, cadence and execution. If one of those items is low in your business, by improving it, you improve revenue.
We've got four clients we've got to exit in a 12 month period at one stage. What we do with these graphs down the bottom is we actually rate where you're at compared to what a benchmark should be within your organization. And then we so this is where a one of our companies was when we started doing the review with them.
And the benchmark is, is there. And perfection is way out there. So we then worked with them on identifying some recommendations. So go through and review everything in your business, come back with a series of recommendations using the model. Then one of our team, one of our mentors, then work with you in improving all of these different elements to the process.
So if you wanted to book a time with me, that is linked to my Calendly. I was going to say WhatsApp. It's linked to my Calendly thing. Happy to take any questions that people have.
David Ding: Yeah, J. D., I'm keen to get your thoughts on when's the best time to engage an organization like you for a founder?
John Dean: It's typically when you want to get a... So most... Founders are very good at selling because they talk about their passion part. Passion is baked into some of the stuff that they do. A good time to engage us is just prior to hiring a salesperson or maybe you've got a couple of salespeople and you just can't create a a repeatable process within there.
So we will come in, we spend between one and two days a month in the organization and we run all the back office componentry. So we hire and fire, run the sales teams, run the meetings, do the one on ones, do the deal, the deep dives, we do the territory planning, we do all the planning. So all the temple center visits, we run that.
So if you think about everything a sales director does, we do all the back office stuff. We don't do any of the front office stuff. We don't do any of the customer facing stuff. So we run, so the best time to engage us is invariably when you've just had a tranche of, of capital, which isn't happening a lot at the moment. Or you're looking to scale and grow and you're just not sure how to do that.
And you want to bring sales leadership within your four walls to facilitate it. So, so literally I'm a sales director in five different organizations on a weekly basis now. So do that. I run all in every different business from retail software to an MSP to a company that has agri tech that solves an agri tech problem.
Trying to think of another one. I mentioned the retail one already to a company that does in the education space. So the common thing with all of our clients is I'm the domain expert. I don't understand any of their product, but we have improved revenue. Our best is we've quadrupled revenue, but it's not unusual for us to double, double the size of revenue in 12 months.
So it's a company that wants to scale and grow and wants to get away from the founder lead team. Although the founder could be in the team. So many companies, the founder is in the team and they gradually get to a stage where they go out and we hire sales people to facilitate our, our framework.
David Ding: Interesting. So, so potentially, like after a series A round or, or even... Potentially...
John Dean: The most of the bulk of our clients tend to be somewhere between a million dollars And 10 million dollars. So at a million dollars, at a million dollars, someone can sell the software. So even if you're just friends and family, you can sell the software.
We want to scale the thing you've been able to do. Gotcha. So. So it may be that you've maybe you've got capital, it may be you've had some early success. Invariably, like I said, people have hired and fired salespeople. So we then come in and help them facilitate that. So I think I'm interviewing three clients at the moment are looking for staff, in this economy. So they're looking to scale and grow. And again, we hire based to our framework. So we hire people, not that have just done sales, but all our mentors in our business have got minimum of 20 years worth of sales leadership experience. They've done over a thousand deal reviews. They're all super experienced and they've all helped organizations scale and grow throughout their entire career.
David Ding: So what's your, I'm keen to get your advice on, because the stuff you mentioned about, you know, a founder, they're technical, all they do is talk about themselves and their product. We see it in the pitch decks, we see it in engagements. It's like, almost like a disease, they can't stop. What are your thoughts on how to break that cycle so they can have a breakthrough?
John Dean: I think the first part of that, it's like anything, right? It's identify the problem. I think if, if, if they can't identify, I think doing the things you talk about makes them individually successful. So founders can get away with it. I can't tell you how many businesses we've worked with where the founder as a salesperson.
Founders get away with it because they talk about their passion and what they do. As soon as they hire a salesperson, a salesperson doesn't have the lived journey of the founder. The salesperson doesn't have the stories. They don't talk to the problem in the marketplace. A salesperson's actually got to craft their own process based on a very different lived journey. They need to tell stories about how why they joined the business rather than why they found the product out. So there's a really big disconnect between those two components. So I think part of it is identifying with a founder that talking about yourself works really well for you as an individual, but if you want to scale and grow the business, then it can't be you centric.
True of anything, right? They're gonna, they're gonna outscale and, and and outgrow. We've taken, there's one client that I'm specifically thinking of. They did 700 K in the, our first year we did 1.4 in the second year. We did 2.8 million in the third year. And I think this year they're gonna go close to $7 million.
We haven't helped 'em in the last 12 months, but we help 'em scale and grow to a point where they can then hire a full-time version of us into into their business. And a large part of that was getting them to stop talking about your baby because no one cares.
David Ding: Yeah, I think it's a great model, the fractional resource thing, you know, it's pretty common in the web 3 space and it's great to see it and doing well in sales because I think it's, you know, it's the perspective of a, of a high quality sales director is it's so much different than a founders.
John Dean: Right. It is, it is. And if you look at, if you look at the attributes and skills of a sales person, like I said, I'm hiring for a bunch of my clients right now. I interviewed, I got three LinkedIn profiles sent to me the other day from people and they'd all had sales, 10 years worth of sales experience, et cetera.
And every one of them I knocked back at some level. It's like, they just don't have the minimum, you know, in that particular company we're hiring in the healthcare space. So I'm only interested if you've navigated a hospital for the last five years of your life because, because that's where, that's where we're stuck currently within our, within our current business.
So just because you've sold well, just because you've got a good relationship, you've been able to navigate the legal marketplace, one of the guys, doesn't mean you're actually going to convert that into a, to a healthcare space. So you're looking for people who really understand the problem, first and foremost.
Really understand the problem. That's exactly the key, right? It's a pretty simple process. If you're a salesperson that's struggling selling, just understand the problem better and deeper. Just spend a lot of time with customers understanding exactly what is it you're trying to solve? What does it look like? What were you trying to do? How did you try and facilitate it? All those things will start uncovering better, better needs and better discovery.
The other thing that is a big shift is if you spend all your time talking about a product, I'm sorry, but it's quite boring. So once you've had a down pat, once you, if you do that 15 times in a month, it's boring as batshit. If you have a meaningful business conversation with someone, it's so much more interesting. So part of the outcome is predictable and scalable results and sustainable results.
The other real big outcome is our teams love this, like they, they love the engagement we have because understanding the business drivers and having more meaningful conversation with a business with a business around the things that they need to buy is far more interesting in my mind than anything to do with your product.
It's, it's almost like the black box approach, which is, which is, you know, no one cares really what the black box does, but it's a very, it's a very important part of a, a plane. You need to look at your product in the same way. It's a black box. It's irrelevant. It focuses on the stuff we've already talked about.
David Ding: I love that. And so I'll just finish up with one last question. And it's around, you know, the comment that stood out for me around proposals and templates are killing your business. Just some guidance on how would you formulate the first draft of something that does work?
John Dean: Right, right. So the question for me to a customer is, hey, thank you for I'll tell you a story and then I'll, I'll, I'll dig into it a little bit.
A woman called Maureen, she's CEO of a business based down in Melbourne. We met up in a, in the Western hotel in Sydney and about 30 minutes into our first ever meeting. So I've been referred to her by someone. So it's a warm referral about 30 minutes in. She says, Oh, JD, you free next Wednesday to come to our sales meeting, which is a pretty good buying signal for what I do. Right.
And I said, yeah, I am. Thank you very much. Anyway, we kept going through the process and then we got to the end of the meeting and, and she said, can you send me a proposal for what you do? And I said sure, Maureen, beside yourself, who else is involved in the decision making. And, and she kind of looked at me and she said, no, it's just me.
So, so who am I writing the document for, right? If, if you're, I'm hearing things from you that sound good. So if I'm writing it for somebody, if there's someone else in the decision making, the next question is what do they need to see, et cetera. She then says to me no, it's just me. And I said, okay, fantastic.
I said to her, what would you like me to put in the document? And she went red in the face. She got embarrassed and she says, oh, I don't know. What do you need to go ahead? And I said, I need you to pay my bill to move forward. So I didn't write a proposal. I sent literally a invoice to her and she paid. Now that was a $5,000 decision, right?
Just to give that context. Point being, if someone asked you for a proposal, what we need to do is fantastic. What do you need to get sign off for this project in, in internally? So for me, it's, it's reframing it. Have you got something, have you got a project like this size or like this previously, you've got something approved?
Can you share something with me on it? Tell me about, give me a business case template. So how do we drill into, depending upon the size of the company we're selling to most people sell into a corporate marketplace, understand what the corporate needs in order to get this thing approved, and then replicate some of those things.
But if you think about one of the things that we've got on our website at salesdirectorcentral. com is a business case template, right? It's a publicly listed construction business. I almost said their name. It's a 17, 18 page document. There's 20 odd signatures in it, prices and addendum. So start getting from some of your prospects either the business case to buy you or their business case to go and get money and then start making your proposals look and feel like those business cases.
And typically business cases talk to things like here's the problem really well defined. Here's the current state, here's the future state, here's why no decision is not an option. And here are the people we've looked at. So, so give it a bit of a flow, but my key is understand the customer, what they need because they're the ones that have to go and, and sell the thing and get the internal sign off and, and, and process.
And if you can't download, like I said, on our website I can't think what the area is at the moment. There's an area for masterclasses. Part of that, you can download a business template, but go and find them from your customers. If you can't download that and have a look at it.
David Ding: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. All right, we'll wrap it up there. Really appreciate your time, JD. A few lights went on for me and this actually, and this will cascade into a few meetings I have with founders now. So I'm sure this will be really helpful. Thanks everyone for watching. We appreciate your time. That's it for now. We'll see you next time.