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Peter Strohkorb

Episode 57: How to Improve Your Sales Process with the 7 Figure Sales System, with Peter Strohkorb

Peter Strohkorb has over 15 years of corporate business experience in executive-level Sales and Marketing executive roles with some of the biggest brands on the planet.

Today, he is a sought-after expert business advisor on how to achieve significant sales revenue and business growth through better managing the intersection between your Sales, your Marketing and your ideal Customers. Peter’s clients have experienced sales revenue growth of up to 433% (!) and won more repeat business from existing clients.

He is a published author of the Amazon 5-Star rated book The OneTEAM Method, which describes his holistic Sales and Marketing collaboration framework to lift sales results, enhance customer experience and boost staff engagement. Peter holds qualifications in Marketing and Management from the prestigious Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The 7 Figure Sales Introduction system for improving your sales process
  • Changing sales from product-focused to customer-focused
  • Why spamming people to get as many leads as possible in the top of a sales funnel is a bad trend for the industry
  • Using the right language to actually make a sale
  • How long you have to make an impact in a cold call
  • Peter’s prediction for 2018: winning new business won’t be the top for priority for most businesses anymore
  • Why your “about us” page shouldn’t be about you
  • How the OneTEAM Method has expanded since Episode 22 to bring sales and marketing teams together
  • Why customers buy with their hearts, not their heads, and why you need to change your sales and marketing tactics to take advantage of this
  • How to do proposals so they actually convert

Ways to contact Peter:

Podcast eBooks:

The Power of Two

Episodes 1, 2 and 3 collide to bring you summary of lessons learned and systems created around Vision and Key Initiatives that help drive success to companies and businesses.

The Transition to Automation

In Episode 25, Vera talks with Heidi Rasmussen, CEO and Co-Founder of one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies in America – freshbenies. This eBook highlights part of the conversation to bring out the best lesson in automation and on-boarding for startups.

Using IT Strategically

In Episode 29, Vera talks with Tom Grooms, Vice President, Information Technology, and Chief Information Officer for CF Industries. This eBook is your guide for seeing IT as more than just a faster way to do your accounting.

The ZFactor Methodology

In Episode 35, Vera talks with Cindy Goldsberry, founder and partner of ZFactor Group. This eBook shows you how to take your business from vendor to value creator.

Transcript:

Welcome to System Execution, the strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company, but here, we’ll solve your physical, technological, and psychological systems issues, by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their own business, and providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results. Now, here’s your host, Vera Fischer.

Vera Fischer: Today’s episode is sponsored by 97 Degrees West, the brand marketing agency located in Austin, Texas. 97 Degrees West serves regional and national companies in the healthcare, finance, energy, and manufacturing industries. 97 Degrees West believes that an integrated approach to marketing that involves traditional and digital strategies that fit your customers’ buying journey yields the greatest impact on your bottom line. Go to www.97DWest.com to learn more.

Welcome to System Execution, a podcast devoted to using processes and systems to drive to a better outcome for your business. I’m Vera Fischer, your host. Many of you know that business success relies on systems. Systems can be physical, such as a warehouse or a factory, or technological, think software. While others are psychological systems such as checklists, org charts, or your daily hot list.

Today, I’ve got the great pleasure of welcoming back to the show, Peter Strohkorb. Now listeners, he was our guest on episode 22 where Peter explained his OneTEAM Method for sales and marketing collaboration. Peter’s episode was so well received by everyone out there listening that it made it to our top 10 downloaded episodes of System Execution in 2017.

So, what does that really mean? So, to make it into the top 10, you have to have at least 2000 downloads for your particular episode, and I believe Peter was number three in our top 10 list. System Execution is downloaded in more than 44 countries and we just surpassed our 50th episode, so I’m excited to get started in 2018 and having Peter back. Welcome back to System Execution, Peter.

Peter Strohkorb: Thank you, Vera. It’s a pleasure to be back, and it’s an awesome pleasure as well to be in the top 10 podcasts of your show. That’s fantastic, I’m so pleased.

 

More on Peter’s Background

Vera Fischer: I’m loving it, too. I think your OneTEAM Method for sales and marketing collaboration was very insightful and I’m really thrilled to be one of the first that’s going to be hearing about your next process around your 7 Figure Sales Introduction for improving your sales process. But I didn’t do the big bio like I typically do for my listeners, so I’m going to leave that to you, Peter. Why don’t you give us a little bit about your background and your awesomeness?

Peter Strohkorb: Alright, Vera. Thanks very much. Hello listeners. My name’s Peter Strohkorb. I have the fame of having spent nearly 20 years in the corporate sector, in either the sales side or the marketing side, always in B2B, for organizations like Sony, 3M, CSC, and Canon. Then, when I had enough from the corporate world, I started my own consulting business that’s been going since 2008, and what we actually focus on is on the human side of business and in particular, selling.

What I mean by that is that when I discovered sales and marketing teams talk more about each other than to each other in meeting with large organizations, I had to just create a methodology that would address that problem systematically, and it’s been proven in up to seven different vertical markets. It’s not a thing that just pertains to IT or law or to automotive, or to energy. It’s something that’s actually related to people.

Staying on the theme of relating to people, on the other end of the spectrum, on the spectrum of individual sales reps, I have discovered that they often are very sales focused, no surprise there. And also very product focused, because let’s face it, the product managers come in, talk to marketing about the product, marketing retains that theme, and talks to the sales people about the product, and to the market about the product, and forget about the customer.

I’m very keen on turning that around to make it customer focused, and have us do everything right for the customer, and as we do that, the rest of the organization will align up behind that and actually operate better with that single focus. So, what the 7 Figure Sales Introduction does is to help sales people to get away from talking about themselves and boring the customer or prospect to death, but instead at the first point of contact, enticing interest and intrigue into what you can do for me, and that’s what the 7 Figure Sales Introduction is about.

 

The Two Types of Salespeople

Vera Fischer: So Peter, a lot of us will have this image of a sales person and they usually fall into one of two camps. One is the, for lack of a better term, the cheesy car salesman, right?

Peter Strohkorb: Yeah.

Vera Fischer: Where you’re not really believing anything that’s coming out of their mouth.

Peter Strohkorb: That’s right.

Vera Fischer: But then you really have the genuine salesperson who really is coming at their customer from a point of really, “How can I be of service? How can I be helpful?” I’m curious if what you find or what you have found in this process really spans those salespeople who might be a little more introverted, which would be strange to even be in sales, to be introverted, but there are those. And those that are so extroverted that they just need a little bit of help along the way.

Peter Strohkorb: Okay, so a couple of things on that. One is that through automation, a lot of organizations have started believing that the more “leads” they … In inverted commas. The more “contacts” let’s say, they put into the top of the funnel, the more deals will fall out of the bottom. But instead we’re just spamming people with stuff, whether we know that they’re interested or not, and as a consequence of that, we’re actually turning buyers off from listening to us in the first place. I think it’s a really bad trend in the industry, in general.

The second thing is that interestingly, they tell the sales reps now, “Take your time, get to understand the customer, understand their problems, and then talk to them about their problems from their perspective” which is great, but on the other hand we then say, “Hurry up and finish the deal by the end of the month.” We’re creating this dichotomy whereby we’re telling them to do one thing, but we’re actually measuring something different, and we’re just really creating chaos in the industry.

Vera Fischer: Oh, gosh, you are so right. All right. Let’s get going.

Peter Strohkorb: Yeah, so to answer your question, it actually helps both parties. Because what we will do is as we start, as we begin a cold call or a cold email or an introduction, or we introduce ourselves at an event or at a function, I say to salespeople, the moment you start with, “Hi, my name is so and so, and I” or “We,” as soon as they say “I” or “We” I think it leads, psychologically speaking, down the wrong path. If we start a sentence with “I” or “We” then what do we end up talking about, Vera?

Vera Fischer: We talk about not me, the potential customer. I’m just going to be talking about you, and I’m not interested.

Peter Strohkorb: That’s right, so we’re talking all about ourselves. “Look, I work for so and so. We do this, and we’ve got these customers, we’ve been running for this many years, and we’re great.” But the customer still thinks, “Well, so what? What’s he got to do with me? Nothing.” You still haven’t articulated why I should be interested in even talking to you.

Particularly in the cold call situation, sales reps tell me that in a cold call, you used to have about 20 seconds to make your point, and for the taker of the call to decide whether they want to talk to you or not, but they’re now telling me it’s down to less than six seconds.

You’ve got to make your mark within the first say 10 seconds, otherwise you’ve lost the topic of the discussion. So, what the 7 Figure Sales Introduction does is it gives you your words to use in your introductions that will do nothing more than cause intrigue in the other person, and for them to say, “Oh, that sounds interesting. Tell me more.”

Vera, the minute they say, “Tell me more,” they’ve given you permission to sell to them, not before. That’s why I call the whole system permission based selling, because it just creates that interest in the buyer right from the get-go.

Vera Fischer: Interesting. So, what happens after that?

Peter Strohkorb: Well, after that you can use any sort of sales methodology that you like, whether that’s spin selling, or challenger selling, or solution selling. Anything that you’ve learned as a sales rep to use, and your organization wants you to use ’cause that’s the training they’ve given you. You can use all that, but it becomes so much more effective because you’ve got their permission to actually sell to the buyer.

 

How to Improve Your Sales Process

Vera Fischer: Let me ask you this. You touched on something earlier that I thought was very insightful and I’ve actually been thinking about that topic myself, is that we are, it’s all about the almighty download and getting as many contacts into that top of the sales funnel, and after a while, people just are getting on this information overload. Go ahead.

Peter Strohkorb: No, keep going.

Vera Fischer: Well, from a sales perspective, I play the role of salesperson in my organization. I also play the role of marketer. So, I have to literally, for every task I’m on, I have to ask myself, “Is this a marketing function or is this a sales function?” Which are two completely different mindsets, and sometimes I get confused.

So, it’s at that point in trying to improve your sales process where you are trying to develop that relationship with a potential customer, but yes, you do have to have that quick, “Okay, where are my numbers by the end of the month?”

Peter Strohkorb: So let me again respond in two parts. You’re right that the functions of sales and the functions of marketing are two separates, but they are overlaps there. As I’ve said in our last podcast episode, I actually don’t like to separate the two. I like to use the term smarketing, and that’s sales and marketing work together as one team, hence the OneTEAM Method that we talked about last time.

And what we don’t want is to actually artificially create a divide between the two, put them into two different departments, have marketing huddled together in head office, and the salespeople being distributed all over the place, and then like I said earlier, more talking about each other than to each other.

That’s an area where marketing is chucking their sales “leads,” in inverted commas, over the fence to sales, and wipes their hands and says, “That’s our job done. Over to you now.” And the salespeople say, “Well, that’s all junk, we can’t use that stuff.” That’s an incredible waste on both sides of the organization, and it just needs to stop.

A lot of organizations are in denial that it’s even happening to them. We need to stop this and just tackle the problem and stop blaming each other, and stop making it about who’s at fault, and start talking, “How can we do better?” Because I believe that if sales and marketing work hand in glove together, then everybody wins. The salespeople win because they get better deals, the marketing people win because they get better recognized for doing good stuff, and the customer wins because they’re getting a greater service.

It makes total sense and I don’t get it that organizations are still in this paradigm of sales versus marketing, and, “Let’s not talk about it” if something goes wrong. That’s just my little soapbox talk about that.

The thing about putting more junk into the top of the funnel in order to get more deals out of the bottom, that’s just totally crazy. Why can’t we be more judicious about what we put in the top of the funnel so that more quality leads come out of the bottom, and then the salespeople actually have something to work with?

I believe there’s a trend going on, not just in North America, but across the world, whereby most industries have become so mature that there is no new business. We either have to grow through mergers and acquisitions, which we’ve seen a lot of recently, and I think that trend is coming to an end, and we now need organic growth, but there is no white space left in the industry. We actually need to steal business from each other, like from our competitors.

In order to do that, we can’t just compete on price. We need to actually compete on quality, and so I can see a trend coming. Vera, this is a prediction for 2018. I can see a trend coming, by we say, “Okay, we will actually not look for new accounts as our first priority any longer.” ‘Cause a lot of organizations are so focused on winning new business that they’re actually neglecting their existing customers.

I know that’s a big statement, but I’ve seen it so many times in these organizations both in Australia and in North America. I talk to people over there all the time. And that we will say, “Actually, there’s pretty good revenue to be had from upselling and cross selling to our existing customers, if only we listen to them better and actually focus on their needs.”

My prediction is that sales and marketing will not completely pivot, but that they will start to pay more attention to their existing customers and do better service for them, and be less crazily fascinated with winning new logos, right? I still think we need new business but we can eek so much more business from our existing customers. There’s so much potential that we haven’t tapped into, that I think organizations will wake up to that.

And for all the talk of account based marketing, I think it should be account based marketing, and I think inadvertently, without knowing that they’re doing it, I think a lot of organizations will start to get into that this year.

 

The 7 Figure Sales Introduction System to Improve Your Sales Process

Vera Fischer: So through all of the places that you have been in the last, in 2017, and really going out and educating those about your OneTEAM Method, is that where you got to the point where you said, “You know what? There’s something here around this 7 Figure Sales Introduction,” was that just a result of just gathering all this information?

Peter Strohkorb: Yes and no. It’s really an extension of the OneTEAM Method in order to improve your sales process, but at the other end of the spectrum. It’s not internal facing, within the organization, “Guys, let’s collaborate and do a better job for the customer.” It’s an extension about the customer, right?

Because at the first point of contact with the customer, you need to engage them, rather than club them over the head and saying, “We’re so great, you’ve just got to buy from us.” We’ve got to engage them and say, “Why should you buy from us? What’s in it it for you?” At the first point of contact, and this is where a lot of organizations let themselves down.

You go and look at the “About us” page on the websites of any sales organization, and what’s the “About us” page really about?

Vera Fischer: Us.

Peter Strohkorb: About us. That’s right. So, why should the customer be interested in us until they know what’s in it for them? So, the “About us” page should really about you, what we do for you, and what we’ve done for customers in the past, and look how greatly these other people have benefited from our work, and you could be one of them. Make it about the customer, and where does the customer get the first point of introduction to the organization? Usually, they go online and research you, and then in that case marketing, through their content marketing, need to have built up that picture in the buyer’s mind that we can do great things for you, not, “We’re awesome.”

And/or, a sales rep making contact for the first time through an email or a cold call or some other introduction, and it’s absolutely critical to any organization to the success of the individual sales rep, that at that point they don’t screw it up and talk about themselves. It’s absolutely important that at that point, they talk about how important is the customer and the value that they can deliver to them, but very succinctly, and like I said, within the first 10 seconds.

 

Next Challenges for Peter and His Team

Vera Fischer: Right, interesting. So Peter, it’s early in the year, we’re having our interview here in January, but by the time our listeners here it, it’ll be March of 2018. So, what have you got in the hopper for all of 2018? What’s on your list?

Peter Strohkorb: Okay. Well, look, I have expanded the OneTEAM Method to bring sales and marketing teams together, and it includes now what I call customer centricity. So, how can the organization be mindful of the customer in everything they do? A bit like Amazon, said a few years ago.

But particularly focused on sales and marketing, and once you get away from this marketing generates the leads that sales ignores, and then when the sales figures don’t stack up, then we blame each other, “Ah, your leads were no good.” “Ah, you guys are too lazy to follow them up,” right?

Vera Fischer: Right.

Peter Strohkorb: If we can get away from that, “Whose fault is it?” And stop talking about that even there is a fault, but just take it as an opportunity to improve things and say, “What would happen if we did work together? Who would benefit?” And Vera, I’ve seen it so many times that when the sales team and the marketing team, not just talk to each other or about each other, but actually plan things together and act as one team, then the salespeople get better leads that they can close and get more business and hit their quotas.

The marketing people can do good work and finally be recognized by the salespeople as doing good work for them, and be happy doing that. Also, the CEO and the CFO will smile upon marketing and say, “You guys are contributing to revenue, so therefore we won’t cut your budget,” which is what they usually do when things go bad.

And lastly, not leastly, the customer will get a better service, and we will get more repeat business from them, and we’ll strengthen ourselves, reinforce ourselves against the customer drifting off to a competitor, and will keep them more loyal. So, the customer wins, marketing wins, sales wins, and the organization wins. It’s like win/win/win/win, all around, and we’ve just got to do it, you know?

As far as the 7 Figure Introduction System to improve your sales process is concerned, that’s kind of at the pointy end of that interaction with the customer, and the way it works is that it’s an online program and it takes about, I don’t know, 15-20 minutes to go through, and within 15 or 20 minutes we will ask the participant a series of questions online that they answer themselves.

Using a design thinking process, they will actually construct their own 7 Figure Sales Introduction inadvertently just by answering those questions. For many sales reps for the first time, it gets them away from talking about how great is the organization that they work for, and the customer’s just going to be fascinated with them just for that, to, “What do we actually do for the customer that helps them? And how do we do that? And where do I have an example?”

Actually, it also draws into the emotional side of the customer. In our sales course, we think that just convincing a customer that we have a great product or service is going to be enough for them to buy, but really, as human beings, research has proven that so many times over that most often we buy with our hearts, and then we try to justify it with our brains.

Vera Fischer: Absolutely.

Peter Strohkorb: Nobody would buy a luxury car or a sports car if we just operated with our brains. If you just want to go from a point A to a point B, you don’t need a $100,000 car.

Vera Fischer: No. That’s true.

Peter Strohkorb: We make the emotional decision and then we go, “Oh, but it’ll be great, and it’ll be good for business” or whatever it is, that we justify it with our brains, that we’ve made that emotional decision. The 7 Figure Sales Introduction helps sales reps to actually tap into that emotional side, and makes an emotional connection between us and the customer and why they should buy from us, and nobody else.

Again, learning how to improve your sales process is done through design thinking, through a system that is online, that takes, that guides the participant through a series of questions. They answer their own questions, and then from their own answers, their solution, their personal solution is being constructed and then handed over to them, really for execution.

Vera Fischer: And where do you get to see that? Or, where do you go online to do that?

Peter Strohkorb: You go to PeterStrohkorb.com/Permission-Based-Selling, and you can start the program there. The first episode is about sales proposals. Not what to put into the sales proposals, but what to do with them when you’re ready to send it off. That is actually free of charge, and it guides you gently into the whole subject of permission based selling. If I may expand on that for a little bit, Vera?

Vera Fischer: Absolutely.

Peter Strohkorb: So with the sales proposals, let’s say a buyer has asked you to prepare a proposal for them. What do most people do?

Vera Fischer: They put the proposal together and then they email it to them.

Peter Strohkorb: And then what happens?

Vera Fischer: Usually the other person goes dark, or they’ve somehow made a decision and you weren’t part of it.

Peter Strohkorb: So you’ve lost control at the point of sending it in, right?

Vera Fischer: Right, absolutely.

Peter Strohkorb: And that happens so many times, and it’s happened actually to me in the past when I was a bit more naïve. You send it off, “Well, they’ve asked for it, so therefore we will give it to them,” right?

Vera Fischer: Exactly.

Peter Strohkorb: And that’s actually exactly the wrong thing to do. So what is the right thing to do?

Vera Fischer: Well, I have learned through my own experience trying to improve our sales process that number one, I never email a proposal ever. Number two, I always present it, so I do a GoTo Meeting where I present it in person, and I have actually gotten away from doing proposals in a long Word document. I do PowerPoint proposals that don’t have a bunch of legal stuff in there. It really is, “I’ve identified the solution, what the problem is, here’s how we believe it can be solved, here’s how we’re going to make that happen for you” and then it’s so much easier.

Peter Strohkorb: Yep, okay. So, all that is absolutely right, Vera.

Vera Fischer: Oh good. I’m so excited.

Peter Strohkorb: What this first learning module does, and like I said it’s free, it’s called Proposals That Convert, actually says to you at the moment when somebody says, “John, can you write me a proposal, please?” You say, “Yep, Paul. That’s great. I will do that for you. Let’s make a time next week, Wednesday at 2:00 to take you through the proposal.” So right there and then when they ask for it, you make an appointment to take them through it, you don’t just send it in cold, cross your fingers, and hope for the best, right?

Vera Fischer: Right.

Peter Strohkorb: That’s the first step. It can be online, as you said, or it could be face to face if you’re in the same town together, but for God’s sake, don’t just send it in and then expect them to come back to you. That’s one thing, and then it talks about, “Well, what if they don’t take that? What if they don’t want the appointment?” Or, if they make the appointment and cancel it at the last minute. There’s about three or four tips there in terms of how you can get yourself to the top of the pile of all the proposals that this buyer receives, and give them a reason to buy from you and only you, and that’s in the Proposals That Convert module of the permission based selling section, which is on PeterStrohkorb.com/PermissionBasedSelling.

Vera Fischer: Perfect. I’m going to go check that out just to test myself.

Peter Strohkorb: Yeah absolutely. It’s free, Vera. Just go for it.

Vera Fischer: Alright. Well, before we go, Peter, is there anything else you want to share with us? It’s been great to have you, and whatever you’d like to share with us again, and also, please repeat how they can just get in touch with you directly, if they don’t want to go through the permission based selling website, if they just want to get in touch with you direct.

Peter Strohkorb: To get in touch with me directly, please just send me an email at pstrohkorb@peterstrohkorb.com. Very simple. Pstrohkorb@peterstrohkorb.com. The other thing I was just going to say is, Vera, it’s awesome being on your show. Every time I come here, I’m so pleased, and so excited to share this information with your audience, and I’m really so pleased that I am not only in the top 10, but in the top 3 last time, and I’m hoping we can repeat this record this year, as well.

Vera Fischer: Well, I hope so, too, and we’ve got you early in the year this year, so it’s possible.

Peter Strohkorb: Fantastic, Vera. Thanks very much for having me on the show.

Vera Fischer: Well, System Execution fans, no matter how many notes you took or how often you re-listen to this episode, remember every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome. Thanks again, Peter. We’ll talk to you next time.

We hope you found this episode of System Execution on the tactical steps it takes to improve your sales process enlightening. For free examples, case studies, eBooks and more, be sure to visit SystemExecution.com/resources. Contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on email at vera@systemexecution.com. Until our next episode, thank you for the privilege of your time.

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