Marc Miller shares his insight on successful B2B sales
“…Business to business models are changing fairly significantly – they are changing from selling products and basic services to selling solutions.”
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Marc Miller, sales innovator and founder and CEO of Spearfysh, Inc., a cloud based solution that captures, shares, and analyzes sales interactions. Marc shares with us his perspective on the nature of sales and how sales is changing and how companies and salespeople can navigate a different sales world.
Prior to SpearFysh, Marc was CEO of Sogistics Corporation, an internationally known sales productivity improvement firm for more than 20 years. His ideas, models, and methodologies are used by organizations such as Genentech, Nokia, G.E., Oerlikon, Siemens, and Oracle. He is an active investor, speaker, and author of two wide selling books, A Seat at the Table and Selling is Dead.
Spearfysh, founded in 2011, offers a breakthrough solution through an Intelligent Note-Taking App & Web App that allows companies to leverage tablet devices (i.e., iPads) to gain intelligence from sales calls that occur in the field and on the phone. As a result of this new data capture, organizations now have a way to quickly improve salespeople, sales process, and top-line growth.
With decades of experience and now a company that specializes in gathering and analyzing unique sales data, we were interested to hear Miller’s take on a new framework for successful B2B sales.
Q: In your book Selling is Dead you state that, in order to be successful, salespeople must move away from “traditional” sales styles – how do you define a “traditional” style and why doesn’t it work in today’s complex sale?
A: It’s probably more the broader fact that you see a lot of business to business models changing fairly significantly – they are changing from selling products and basic services to selling solutions. There are a lot higher margins in selling solutions and we have to figure out how to package those solutions and move the customer needle.
If you’re changing the business model you have to get your salespeople to change the conversations that they’ve traditionally had, which were about product, to conversations that are more strategic and consultative and with more senior level people. It’s hard to transform as a company unless your salespeople transform.
Q: Any first steps that you would suggest?
A: Broaden yourself business knowledge-wise. You have to be a learner and throw yourself in. It’s about education – if you don’t have that mindset – to constantly work on yourself and constantly get better – you will end up stuck and narrow. For example even if you are not a technology company, most companies are becoming technology enabled – if you’re a salesperson you must learn more about those technologies – that can be an uncomfortable space for a lot of people but you better know your way around a bit if you want to have good discussions with your prospects and customers.
Miller founded Spearfysh in 2011 after leading his previous company, Sogistics, for 23 years. Based on the knowledge that most sales data platforms available were recording only quantitative data – the contacts, number of calls, leads, etc. of their sales force – he understood that these sort of platforms were only capturing half of the equation. The qualitative data- the quality of the sales call, the events that occurred during the call or meeting – were being missed.
The ability to capture and then analyze this qualitative information allows those who use Spearfysh to become learners about sales as a profession in a way that was previously impossible.
“The most important thing a salesperson does is have conversations with prospects and customers. How can it be a profession if no one knows what happens?” M.M.
Q: Can you give us an idea of how Spearfysh allows people to look at qualitative data?
A: Our software creates an index of a conversation that makes it valuable for a salesperson as they can capture those rich conversations and meaningful interactions that are occurring in high level sales calls. Beyond capturing the call our analytics can then discover, scientifically, what your best people do versus your average. What’s going on in winning sales calls versus failed sales calls. For the first time there is an empirical way to really improve the quality of the conversations. It’s hard to improve anything if you don’t have the data.
We can then offer what we call Managed Analytic services – it’s a new kind of data so we can help our customers how to understand it. After about 90-120 days worth of sales calls we will come back in and show them what is going on and start talking about what kinds of things they want to learn from those calls. We help them learn how to mine the data for.
Q:Your technology informs your sales reps about what is working and what makes for a successful sales process. You mention JMS Elite in “Selling is Dead.” Is their model of teleprospecting in alignment with what you see as successful?
A: JMS Elite is part of the change – they will be brought to the table when a company knows they have to make a change when they need to get their sales people away from calling mid-level people. (A company is) going to hire JMS when the right strategy is discovery calls with senior executives. JMS is all about helping their clients get up to bat and Spearfysh is about making contact.
Given that Miller believes a successful salesperson or sales strategy is all about a willingness to learn and expand we were curious about who is seeking them out. What type of sales executive can see real success from all of this new data available?
Q:What type of organization do you think will benefit the most from access to sales interactions and analysis?
A: The idea of sales call transparency is a little polarizing and often evokes a pretty strong reaction in people. The information captured can be very exposing as people have access to things they’ve never had before.
A Sales leader with a growth oriented mindset is curious; they want to learn what is happening so they can make people better. They understand that this process will enable them to have more effective conversations with prospects and that this will help them win more often. These are the type of people who are pressing the envelope – we’re all learning together.
We are entering a new era of business building which asks the individual salesperson and the sales leadership to be innovative, to learn, and to grow in order to achieve greater results. The new framework for B2B sales is about delivering solutions to clients in a collaborative environment as opposed to the traditional role of product sales by volume.
To be effective in this new environment, soft skills like listening, asking questions, and providing solutions are essential. To get there, sales leadership must find ways to leverage technology, data, and partnerships that can both measure and educate about the sales experience and also bridge the gap between selling products by volume and selling complex solutions to C suite executives.