This week, the Market Dominance Guys, Chris Beall and Corey Frank, walk you through the three states of cycle time for start-up businesses or for any company that’s trying to launch a new product or service. There’s in flow. There’s stuck. And there’s waiting. Using an example from his own company’s experience launching Flight School, their brand-new sales-rep training program, Chris tells what happened when they thought they were in flow and ready to set meetings for discovery calls, but soon found that prospects didn’t respond as enthusiastically as expected to what his company was offering. In other words, they were stuck.
But what was the problem? It’s a great program! Why weren’t their prospects seeing the value of what was being offered? Chris explains that it’s often necessary to put your own narcissism aside in order to clearly look at all the possible reasons why you’re not moving toward success as quickly as you think you should be. Only then can you be open to exploring and utilizing all the resources that might help you get unstuck. As he says, “You need to plumb the depths of your ignorance! You need knowledge!” As practical and helpful as usual, our Market Dominance Guys offer advice on this common problem encountered by almost every startup company. Join them for today’s episode, “How to Get from Stuck to Unstuck.”
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The complete transcript of this episode is below:
This week the Market Dominance Guys, Chris Beall and Corey Frank, walk you through the three states of cycle time for startup businesses, or for any company that's trying to launch a new product or service. There's in flow, there's stuck, and there's waiting. Using an example from his own company's experience launching Flight School, their brand new sales rep training program, Chris tells what happened when they thought they were in flow, and ready to set meetings for discovery calls, but soon found that prospects didn't respond as enthusiastically as expected to what his company was offering. In other words, they were stuck.
But what was the problem? It's a great program. Why weren't their prospects seeing the value of what was being offered? Chris explains that it's often necessary to put your own narcissism aside, in order to clearly look at all the possible reasons why you're not moving towards success as quickly as you think you should be. Only then can you be open to exploring and utilizing all the resources that might help you get unstuck.
As he says, "You need to plumb the depths of your ignorance, you need knowledge." As practical and helpful as usual, our Market Dominance Guys offer advice on this common problem encountered by almost every startup company. Join them for today's episode, How To Get from Stuck to Unstuck.
Corey Frank (02:00):
Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys with Corey Frank and the ... I used to say the sage of sales and the profit of profit and the duke of discovery, but I think what we're going to talk about today, Chris, it's more like the Coronado of closing, the Pizzaro of profit, and let's say the Diaz of discovery. And so we're going to talk a little bit about exploring and discovering things, and the process of maybe persistence and cycling.
Corey Frank (02:34):
And before we even get to that, it's funny because, Chris, you and I were talking before we hit the record button, that you needed to turn off your phone because it was discovered by you that even if your phone's in airplane mode that you can still get calls. I believe the phrase was, "Let me turn off my phone, because it's in airplane mode, and I can still get calls when it's in airplane mode."
Corey Frank (02:59):
And we were joking that if that was a phrase mentioned at a cocktail party 15 years ago, I think there'd probably be a different phrase that people would be saying to you. What would they say to you if you mentioned something like that?
Chris Beall (03:13):
I think somewhere between the loony bin and burn the witch.
Corey Frank (03:18):
Burn the witch. Indeed, indeed. So I think this concept to discovery, Chris, and we've talked about this off air many, many times, you've helped me with this in my various startups that I've created here, is that the discovery process and even the top of funnel cold calling breakthrough process, it's different for startups than it is for more mature companies, is it not?
Chris Beall (03:44):
It is, it is. Everything's different for startups, because of the depth of your ignorance about your own offering and what it's worth to anybody, even whether you can truly deliver, because if you don't really know what it is, and who might want to take advantage of it, you actually don't quite know if you can deliver it. You're starting with kind of a conjecture, I'll call it a narcissistic conjecture, right?
Chris Beall (04:06):
So what's narcissistic about it? Well, you believe it, nobody else in the world does and the only thing you really know about it is I came up with it so it must be great, and that's pretty narcissistic, right? And then the conjecture is a conjecture, you don't really know. It's somewhere between a conjecture and a hypothesis, but you come up with something and you either are foolish enough to actually build it, or you're smart enough to go talk to people about it and see if they'll buy it before you build it, which is a really good idea. You're throwing darts in a dark room, and you're hoping to hear a squeal every once in a while.
Corey Frank (04:39):
Right, right. Well, this concept, this process that I go through, right? It is a little bit of the states of the unknown, unknown. I don't know what I don't know, certainly. But once I realize that there is something that I don't know, how do I go about maybe these cycle times? How do I know what state I'm at in order to potentially make progress? Because I may not even be aware that I need help, or how many cycles do I use in the same screenplay or the same discovery process before I realize, "Wait a minute, I may be a little stuck here."
Chris Beall (05:13):
It's interesting because there's a numbers outcome, right? I mean, if you're trying to set meetings, and you go 35, 40 conversations and you can't set a meeting, there's a mismatch between your message or how you're delivering it and your list. If you're pretty good at the message, and by the way, using a non-calibrated person to do early market exploration is just dumb, right?
Chris Beall (05:33):
It's like hiring a sales person is the first thing you do when you think you have a product. You're not testing your products fit in the market, you're testing whether you're any good at hiring salespeople. And that's not a very interesting question, that's not the first order question of a startup, am I good at it at a hiring salespeople? The first order question is, anybody out there seeing a value in this to try it and pay me for it?
Chris Beall (05:57):
I mean, that's kind of it, right? The first step there is, will they take a meeting? And if they're not taking meetings, you know you're stuck. That's really, really simple. And by the way, the three stages that I see all progress being in, the phases that they get into, are three. I wish there were four, but this is the case where three is the right number. Number one is you're in flow.
Chris Beall (06:18):
Usually you can tell you're in flow because the emotional state that goes along with being in flow is that you don't notice you're in flow. So if you don't notice you're in flow and things are just kind of moving along, you're probably in flow. That is, you're doing the next thing that makes sense, you're doing the next thing that makes sense. I'm not saying you're optimized, by the way. Optimized is completely different. It isn't a state of making progress, it's a state of the machine itself, in which you're trying to make progress.
Chris Beall (06:46):
My machine is optimized, my process is optimized, but I, myself, I'm in flow, it's going. Like right now, I'm talking, I'm in flow. You know me, when I'm talking, I'm in flow 99.97% of the time, and other people wish that I would get out of flow so they can get in flow.
Corey Frank (07:03):
Well, as I always say, you put the quarter in Chris's machine, you got to listen for the whole song, so that's how it works.
Chris Beall (07:08):
That's right. So the next state that we tend to get in is stuck, and stuck is a funny state and we did a whole episode on this once. Stuck is the state where I actually can't move forward, I'm not moving forward because I am missing knowledge. I don't know something that I need to know to move forward. And one of the things that'll take you out of flow is getting stuck, realizing that it's not quite working well enough, you're not really flowing, or even more commonly among startup people you're fooling yourself.
Chris Beall (07:40):
The narcissistic part tells you you're doing better than you are. They call it happy ears in sales. Happy ears is when you're hearing good things, and an objective listener is going, "Really?" That just sounded like politeness to me, I don't think they really are resonating with your message. I think they're just being polite, right? Or you're talking to somebody who doesn't know how to say, "Uh-huh (negative). That doesn't make sense to me."
Chris Beall (08:05):
So you feel it though, and then you get to a point where it's like, "Okay, I'm actually stuck. I don't know what to do next, I need knowledge." And when we get stuck, we've got to do something special. And then there's waiting, and when we're waiting we should find something else to do. That one's really easy, but most people don't have the emotional stamina to accept a waiting state, and so they keep gnawing on the bone that doesn't have any meat on it. It's just time to stop and go somewhere else.
Chris Beall (08:33):
By the way, this is a total aside, one of the cool things about our product ConnectAndSell, is the waiting state is a literal state. You push a button and you wait to get to talk to somebody. So you actually get to practice waiting, and if you're really, really clever or optimized, then what you do is you do something while you're waiting, something else, preferably something that can be interrupted because you're going to be interrupted.
Chris Beall (08:59):
So the other day, for instance, one of our premier users, probably the premier user of ConnectAndSell, is the chief sales officer of one of the largest insurance brokerages in the world, was using the ConnectAndSell mobile app as the first user in the wild to use it in anger. And he was talking to, having conversations with the CEOs and CFOs of all these SPACs. So, SPACs, Special Purpose Acquisition Company, these things are bags of money that are seeking a company to acquire or to combine with. They call it an initial business combination. And then I guess they have special insurance needs, the risk needs, I would call them.
Chris Beall (09:41):
And so he's using our mobile app and he called me up and he said, "Hey, just had a really interesting experience. I found out that by using my waiting time on the mobile app, I could get something really, really valuable done." I said, "What's that?" He said, "I could talk with my daughter while she's cooking." She said, "Whenever I was trying to get ahold of people before I'd be heads down, dialing, navigating, whatever I'm doing, and I couldn't talk to her, now I'm waiting to be interrupted, all I had to do is hold this thing up and say, "I'm in this application, I'm waiting to be interrupted, is it okay if we talk until that happens?"
Chris Beall (10:16):
He says, "We had a great conversation for an hour and a half, reconnecting with my daughter in a way I wouldn't have." So waiting time is super valuable, as long as you don't keep gnawing on the bone, as long as you back up and go and look for some beans to eat or something. There's something else to do. The troublesome one is stuck. And the reason stuck is hard is you've got to decide you're going to learn. You've got to decide to stop doing and not switch to something else, because when you switch to something else and you're stuck, you're just avoiding the real situation, which is you're stuck. And you're not going to get any less stuck by just going to do something else, maybe it'll come to you, but usually you don't.
Chris Beall (10:57):
So the question in a startup is, "When I'm stuck ..." Because I'm often stuck as a startup company or a startup effort, as a state of manifest ignorance, right? You start the big pile of ignorance, and you get a spoon out and you start moving ignorance around in the plate to see if you can find what's inside the ignorance. And eventually, sometimes you run into something go, "Clunk, what's that?" And that's like product market fit, or don't do that again or something cool like that.
Chris Beall (11:22):
So here you are all ignorant and trying to make progress, and you recognize I'm stuck, what do you do? So we had a great, great example today of the number one thing to do when you're stuck, which is with a very short cycle time, try to learn something. So how can we learn things? We can learn things from books, we can learn them from podcasts. I've heard there's a podcast out there about market dominance. Somebody said they learned one thing in 15 hours of listening to it, that's fabulous, right? So we can learn from various sources.
Chris Beall (11:58):
But the number one source we can learn from is another person who might be an expert or have been there done that, or whatever, and we have a conversation with them. Now, the typical way of doing this is long cycle time. You come up with a list of people you can learn from maybe. This is if you're real smart, right? You actually say, "I'm going to go and I'm going to learn from them." And you send them an email and then now you're in a waiting state, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, while they get back to you.
Chris Beall (12:26):
The problem with learning is it's something that works best, not like revenge. Like revenge is a dish best served cold, right? That's what they say. But learning is a dish best eaten hot. The hot conversation is going to catch you in the frame of mind where you're going to ask the best questions, because they're the questions that come from your deepest ignorance.
Chris Beall (12:50):
When your ignorance is right in front of you, when you're stuck, and you ask somebody to enlighten you, it does something to them. It causes them to want to help you, because you're so manifestly in trouble. You're just such a weak little puppy dog. "Help me, help me." You don't have to even put it like that, you just be straight up, and people like to help people.
Chris Beall (13:13):
And so that cycle can be really quick. And today we had a super example. So today we're launching a brand new product, actually we launched it on Tuesday, brand new product. It's called Flight School. And what Flight School is, is something we've been doing for a while, and we've decided to put a wrapper around and say, "Let's kind of take the ConnectAndSell thing and put it inside of a class instead of take the ConnectAndSell thing and have people use it, and then maybe bring them some instruction."
Chris Beall (13:44):
They're very different ideas, they're similar, but they're very different ideas. And I've resisted it for years. Manny Medina, the CEO at Outreach, gosh, four years ago, three years ago, something like that in Seattle, he asked me to come up and have a drink with him. The drink was bourbon, and this was back before my fiance had taught me how to drink bourbon. So I only knew how to drink single malt scotch whiskey. But he said, "No, you drink it. They put these bitters in it and this and that." And I'm going, man, my idea of mixing a drink is you pour it a little bit, have a little bit.
Chris Beall (14:18):
But I tried and I listened to him and he said, "You've got to start a training company, man." I said, "Why is that?" And he said, "Well, because all of our customers are stuck." He actually said they're stuck, because their reps need to learn to talk on the phone. And you guys clearly are experts at talking on the phone, so start a training division or something, please?" And I said, "Nah, I'm not going to do that, plenty of trainers out there, tons of trainers. Everybody trains cold calling, this doesn't make any sense." Right?
Chris Beall (14:47):
And so I left him, he was all disappointed. I don't think he's ever bought me at bourbon since, but he might have. Still a good friend. And so it kind of gnawed on me though, because he's a really, really smart guy. Obviously very successful, he has raised a ton of money at Outreach, they're doing really well. We partner with them, we love them. So I was like, "Wow." It's still bothering me, right?
Chris Beall (15:09):
So then we start delivering training a little bit at a time, and then we have this epiphany with a bankrupt company in Texas that needed help, and I offered a Monday and Friday unlimited for a small amount of money for a month, because I wanted to see if we could help him keep the company open and keep their employees employed. And suddenly it's like, "Oh, well wait a minute, if we're going to do that on Monday, we better train the living daylights out of them on Fridays."
Chris Beall (15:34):
And suddenly we had this four sessions of blitzing coach, with a lot of preparation in between, voila! Four sessions, first one's the first part of the conversation that we're working on. The second one, that's the seven seconds everybody talks about to get trust. The second part is what we call the 27 seconds, the value piece, we called it free flight take off, free flight. You see the picture is starting to emerge, why do we call it flight school?
Chris Beall (16:01):
Third one is, how do you ask for the meeting, practicing that, landing the airplane. And the fourth one is handling turbulence, right? There's always lots and lots of objections. And so we said, let's offer this thing, but we didn't package it. It was just something we did. And we did about 30 of them, and the effect was profound. There was a company in the industrial air compressor space that took the entire group of professional sellers, I think about 100 of them, through this Flight School program, and they'd never really sold on the phone before, and they were effective and they had fun and they made money during the training. Well, money in the form of fresh new business, new meetings. What kind of training delivers money?
Chris Beall (16:46):
So we're really excited, we got to package this thing up, I need somebody to sell it. Now I am established as this guy who can actually hire a salesperson. So it's safe. Do not try this at home. If you're not sure about the step, you got to do it yourself. But I was pretty sure I'd been through 30 of them. I'd sold a bunch of them myself, so I hired a professional seller. Her name is Cheryl Turner, she's as good as anybody in the world, maybe better than anybody. By the way, her secret power is she feels quite correctly like she's anyone's peer. So when Oren Klaff talks about a status alignment-
Corey Frank (17:22):
Status alignment, yup.
Chris Beall (17:22):
She can status align up or down anywhere, because she naturally, correctly, morally, ethically, deeply, personally, professionally feels like she is the peer of any human being on earth. And therefore it comes across in her conversations. So given that I'm going out and I don't know, we're going to call on managers, I want to go after big companies. Why? Because it's kind of hard to get something like ConnectAndSell, which goes so fast, it causes process change, to get embedded in a big company.
Chris Beall (17:52):
Some have done it and they've done it well, but it's a little hard, so why not offer something a little easier that they still get the good effect, which is this blitz and coach kind of training. So I need somebody who can go all the way up, sell to CEOs, come down, sell to managers, Managers at big companies are like CEOs of little companies. In fact, I'm a good example, I'm a CEO of a pretty small company, some double digits, millions of dollars with some number other than a one at the beginning.
Chris Beall (18:19):
And my fiance is sales manager, is what she calls herself, at a big company, one of the biggest in the world. Well, my quota is whatever it is that I, as the person running the business, trying to do next year. So I think, I don't know, more kind of, I guess eight figures in one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight figures kind of stuff, but not nine. Hers is 10, okay? She's got like three commas, that's just her patch itself. So she gets the office and I get the spare bedroom, as you can see, because we go by natural hierarchy, the producers get the good stuff anyway.
Chris Beall (18:59):
So anyway, it's interesting you don't know where you're going to call, so you need a really robust caller who sees themselves as a peer of anybody's not going to be put off their feed. But you know what else do you need is somebody who doesn't have happy ears, but goes after it. So that's really, really tricky. So I got that, Cheryl does that. Boom, she goes after, she set three meetings in her first morning and then calls me up and says, "I don't know if this is working."
Chris Beall (19:30):
Now, imagine that. So Tuesday, she gets in the company, I'm really bad as an onboarder, so it takes her like an extra day. Get her some lists, she starts calling yesterday, that's Thursday. Three meetings in the morning, but she feels it's not quite in flow. Now, that's how you know you have a real profession. It's not because they're hesitant or have any reluctance or any of that stuff, it's like this could be clicking better and it's early.
Corey Frank (20:40):
It's not necessarily dial the contact, dial the meeting type of rates, it's how would you describe that, Chris? What is it, you get a feeling that Cheryl has or that folks like that have to know that they may be stuck, and they don't necessarily know that they're in stuck. Or worse, or excuse me, better is they're stuck, but the other folks in their party on the team don't agree? "What you mean you're stuck, you've got three meetings?"
Chris Beall (21:12):
And I was that other person. I'm going great, three meetings, and she says, "Uh-huh (negative). Nope, boss, not quite there. I'll keep doing it, but I want to give you some feedback." So that's what she said. And it's kind of interesting, there's a way of doing startups that's really paradoxically odd, shall I say? And that is, you got to have drive energy going somewhere, but you have to be ready on a dime, not to start on a dime, turn on a dime, but often to stop on a dime just for a moment to assess.
Chris Beall (21:49):
I recall going sailing with Helen the very first time I went sailing with her, and that she's a real sailor, and I'm a sack of potatoes, right? But hopefully I'm a sack of potatoes that if you put a personal flotation device on me, I'll be a floating sack of potatoes, which is better than the sinking kind. And so there was a little problem with something up on the mast and the main sail and all this, of which I've learned since, but I didn't know anything at the time.
Chris Beall (22:17):
And she went toward it fast and then stopped. And I thought what's that about, right? Most people when they run towards something, they're going toward it like it's an emergency. All she was doing was getting close enough to see the details and assess the situation. She was going to close the distance in order to get the maximum information and then stop on a dime, assess, and then take a hypothesis and act on it. And it was remarkable to me as an example of a very effective startup style of problem solving.
Chris Beall (22:48):
So you have this drive, but you're not just dumb, just beating your head against a wall, but you don't give up either. It's really tricky. This is why startups tend to fail actually, is that having this combo, right? Drive, but without bullheadedness, how do you get that? And the way you really get it is you got to have somebody else. This is why very rarely do one person startups succeed. They're like marriages in a sense that you got to have somebody cover your weakness and your blind spots.
Chris Beall (23:19):
And we all have blind spots. When you're busy doing this, it's kind of hard to do this and vice versa. So anyway, Cheryl came to me, and said, "I'm kind of stuck." And we went through this process. And the thing I wanted to get to is the cycle time. So the normal thing in corporations that I see is, I need to know something. I go out and I find some people that might be able to help me. I might write an email to them, because I already know them, they're going to answer me.
Chris Beall (23:43):
And the cycle time for getting to the first conversation where somebody might help me might be a day or two days, or if it's a weekend, calendar time, it might be three or four or five days because people are busy. They don't hear that in your voice, and you're trying to be polite, "Hey, I could use some help. I'm facing this situation." We've all seen those emails. I get more of them than the average person probably, but we all see them. We see them both ways. We do them and we see them.
Chris Beall (24:10):
But I think in a startup, and actually in any situation, because every situation is a startup, all we really do is startups, everything worth doing is something relatively new, because otherwise it'd be old hat and somebody else would be doing it. So here we are, we're doing something new, we're not quite sure that it's right, that we know enough to do it well. We think we're in flow, but are we sure we're in flow?
Chris Beall (24:31):
And what we did was I said, "Let's bring somebody else into the conversation, right now, while we're talking in the Zoom." We're in a Zoom, boom, "John Campbell, come on in." Why John? He's our head of product, but he's a former head of training. So maybe he'd have a perspective, because we're selling a training product, right? We don't really know how to sell training products. "John, if we were selling to you, what would this be like?" Get him involved, we're still not there. Cheryl's a lot like, "That's interesting, but it's not enough. We've changed some words, we've done this, we've done that, but not quite enough to make me feel like, yeah, I should just go do it again."
Chris Beall (25:09):
Still have everybody on, add one more person. I finally go, "Huh, wait a minute, there's this person who works for Sharp electronics." And I won't use her name right now, because she might not want me to, but she might later. And she's the head of all the sales training there, she's absolutely brilliant, hard driving, and I've been on multiple test drives and flight schools with her, and Flight School is a thing that is kind of a thing over there at Sharp Business Solutions, and they're sort of rolling it out.
Chris Beall (25:39):
So I thought, well, that's who we successfully sold it to before, and we didn't even know we were selling it. Let's find out what she would think as the buyer in a cold call. So we'll go back in time and say, "Imagine somebody's cold calling you, how should they get you intrigued in a meeting? What should go into the breakthrough line?" And we did that. Did we come up with something? Almost.
Chris Beall (26:04):
But Cheryl's still like, "Almost, but I feel like that's the stuff that would go in discovery, not the stuff that would go in a cold call." And then we have the breakthrough and the breakthrough is, "Cheryl, your own story is a story, you used to be the number one appointment setter at insidesales.com, but now Zand. The CEO, Jim Steele, came to you to find out how you do what you do, why are you killing it, and other people are killing it less? So you are that person, you are that go-to person. When you experienced ConnectAndSell in a blitz and coach session, it was a test drive, not a flight school, what was your experience like, how did it change your life? Because that's your story, and you can tell it undeniably and answer to an objection. And you can say at the very least, this is what it feels like to go through it. This is what it did for me, so much that I joined the company and now I'm making my career selling this."
Corey Frank (27:00):
Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome.
Chris Beall (27:02):
So that's where we got, I think it's a good answer. We'll find out, right? But at least for Cheryl-
Corey Frank (27:07):
It's authentic. It's authentic and it's empathetic, it's novel, it's all the things you look for. And frankly, there's just enough tension in there too where, "Listen, I'm already on this journey and on this path, and look at me now, your team could be me." In essence, right? So as we know from Orin as well, right? You need humor, intrigue, curiosity, but a fair amount of tension. And I think what you guys have discovered there, certainly has all four. But that cycle time in a traditional organization would have been weeks or maybe even months.
Chris Beall (27:47):
And maybe never.
Corey Frank (27:49):
And maybe never.
Chris Beall (27:50):
Maybe never, because when you're stuck for too long, there's pressure to do something, and to do something is actually the fourth state that I don't even put in my list, because I don't accept it. It's called faking it. I hate to say it, but I think that phrase fake it till you make it drives me nuts. Because faking it is not a way of getting to making it. Doing it as well as you understand honestly, and then understanding whether it's working or not as best you can, and getting other people's viewpoint on that, that is not faking it. Faking it as when you're doing it as best you can, and you claim to yourself and others that you're really doing it, because it's about how they think about you. And I'm not a fan, but what do we do when we're stuck for too long? We go back and we fake flow. That's what we do, we fake flow. And faking flow is the death knell of a startup.