I was at the third stage of an interview process for an enterprise sales role and as I walked up the stairs in this very google-esqe workspace, table tennis table, exposed brick walls, bean bags and break out rooms, I thought this place looks good.
I then looked out across the sales floor, it was silent, not a whisper, the tapping of keys, but not one person on the phone.
At that moment, I realised that I’d do very well at this company, but I also realised that this sales floor silence, this fear of picking up the phone was not just a pattern, not just a trend but was becoming normal, and I was fascinated to work out why.
I had sympathy for the executive leadership team, and their inability to understand how the landscape had shifted in such a way that senior sales professionals were so fearful to make a cold call they couldn’t control their own pipelines and junior SDRs were trying their absolute best, but with inadequate tools.
They were given a script, a phone, and within 2 weeks were expected to be able to book quality meetings with senior decision-makers, unsurprisingly they failed.
I could also see it from the buyers’ side, being hassled constantly, cold emails coming in by the thousand, linked in connection requests, people using “social selling” to find out which school you went to and then trying to leverage that knowledge to get 5 minutes on the phone, what a turn off.
I looked at my own experiences, I looked at my history, my first job in the square mile of Central London, cold calling Managing Directors all over the world, people standing on desks, calling Europe in the morning and the US in the afternoon. I thought deeply about what was the difference between then and now.
The answer was information.
At the back end of the 20th Century the internet was not all-pervasive, it hadn’t leveraged its way into every facet of our lives, Facebook didn’t exist, there were still specialists, experts in their fields, we didn’t have the accumulated knowledge of the human race conveniently in our jacket pockets.
The sellers had an edge because they had information that the buyers didn’t have access to, and so the balance wasn’t in favour of the buyers, as it is today.
The core difference is that today the buyers doesn’t think they need the seller, because in their minds they have access to all the information already, and that is a significant shift.
My focus became what mechanism can I use to become vital to the buyer once again, how could I demonstrate that I was credible and had information that would help them? I also knew I needed to be able to demonstrate that within a few moments of the opening of the call.
How could I use the phone and the directness of that medium to engage with decision-makers
How I could I produce a process that was the opposite of the the cookie-cutter “Hi, how are you today, my company provides x,y,z services, I’m looking for some time”
I realised that fundamentally I had to find a way to reverse the paradigm, to reframe how I was interacting, to cut through and to separate myself from the steady flow of messaging these individuals were being forced to experience.
The difference this made was huge, it meant I was in control of my pipeline again, I could target the right companies, the right level of individual within those companies, I wasn’t relying on some 20-year-old SDR whose spray and pray approach was likely to actually damage the brand of the firm.
I put this to work in a couple of settings, in a couple of niches and realised the structure works with any product in any environment and decided it was time to open my own shop.
The fundamentals of sales never change your product or service is either reducing the bottom line or increasing profits. The difference is in the digital-first world that we now live in, if you can get cut through with one phone call, you elevate yourself and your company to a higher level than all the digital communication, marketing, sales funnels, and cold emails combined.
If you want to know what I came up with, then by all means reach out.