EP18: Surf’s Up - We All Stand Equal Before a Wave.
You can learn a lot about market dominance by sitting in the sand…and watching surfers on the beaches of Southern California as they hone their craft. As a land-locked kid from the mean streets of Milwaukee, I would visit the beaches of Venice, California every summer and attempt to ride the relatively modest waves of the warm Santa Monica waters.
Time and again I would bite it and tumble into the surf…learning a little bit each ride about balance…about the feel and the connection to the board beneath you…about timing.
And later committing to a career in sales revealed many of the same techniques that I tried to master as Midwest kid first learning to surf. Certainly meeting with the Sales version of Point Break’s surf-master Bohdi, Chris Beall, over 15 years ago, has helped guide me in search of both riding the perfect wave and executing the perfect sales call.
In this episode of the Market Dominance Guys, Chris argues that it’s the quality of the voice of the sales professional…and the obvious ability to emote sincerity of the human being who is conducting the first seven-second conversation with the prospect, which is really the key to market dominance. You are the surfer. And the scripts you ride – its purpose – with its first bits of information - is to be like a surfboard. Working with both a high-quality tandem is the only way to achieve dominance.
But let’s remember that the job of the surfboard is not to ride the wave; that’s the surfer’s job. As I found out after many a spill, it simply can not ride the wave without a competent surfer. Having a Martin Scorsese-written script alone doesn’t guarantee success in your cold calling.
That would be like chucking 1000 surfboards in the ocean…what would happen? Watch all day long and you will not have very many artistic or higher level wave riding experiences from doing this in spite of how expensive or expertly crafted your board is. The surfboard would just bob around at the pleasure of the waves. But every once in a while one of them could kind of come in on a wave and stay on it for a while… but nothing really very interesting happens.
BUT…you put a competent surfer on the board – who is now constrained by the confines of the surfboard (the script)…and if their skill is high enough and their courage is great enough, and they know what they're doing with their balance - or within that script - they can truly express their personality and establish trust…all in the first seven seconds. Their tone of voice, the prosody, what they sound like, “who” they sound like…all factors in the emotion that the prospects feel such as, Do you sound like somebody they can trust?
Hey…no one said Market Dominance would be easy. So welcome to this week's episode entitled, "Surf’s Up - We all stand equal before a wave."
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The complete transcript of this episode is below:
Corey Frank (00:50):
You can learn a lot about market dominance by sitting in the sand and watching surfers on the beaches of Southern California, as they hone their craft of the waters. And as a landlocked kid from the mean streets of Milwaukee, I would often visit the beaches of Venice, California, every summer, and attempt to ride the relatively modest waves of the warm Santa Monica waters. And time and again, I would bite it and tumble into the surf learning a little bit each ride about balance and about the feel and the connection to the board beneath you, and about timing. And later, committing to a career in sales revealed many of the same techniques that I tried to master as a Midwest kid, who first learned to surf. Certainly meeting with the sales version of Point Break's surf master Bodhi, my partner in the podcast here, Chris Beall, over 15 years ago has helped guide me in search of both riding the perfect wave and executing the perfect sales call.
And in this episode of the Market Dominance Guys, Chris argues that it's the quality of the voice of the sales professional and the obvious ability to emote sincerity of the human being who is conducting the first seven seconds of the conversation with the prospect, which is really the key to market dominance. In our analogy, you are the surfer and the scripts you ride, its purpose with its first bits of information, is like a surfboard. And working with both a high-quality tandem of a script and a surfer or a performer is the only way to achieve market dominance. But let's remember that the job of the surfboard is not to ride the wave. That's the surfer's job. And as I found out after many a spill, it simply cannot ride the wave without a competent surfer. Having a Martin Scorsese-type written script alone doesn't guarantee success in your cold calling. That would be like chucking a thousand surfboards in the ocean and what would happen? Watch all day long and you will not have many very artistic or higher level wave riding experience from doing this. In spite of how expensive or expertly crafted your board is, you would just see many surfboards bobbing up and down at the pleasure of the waves. But certainly once in a while, maybe you see one of them come in on a wave and stay on it for a while, but nothing really interesting happens.
But if you put a competent surfer on the board who is now constrained by the confines of the surfboard, the script, and if their skill is high enough, and if their courage is great enough and they know what they're doing with their balance, and within that script, they can truly express their personality and establish trust all in the first seven seconds. Their tone of voice, their prosody, what they sound like, who they sound like, all factor in the emotion that the prospect feels culminating in, "Does this sound like somebody I can trust?" Hey, no one said market dominance would be easy. So welcome to this week's episode entitled, Surfs Up, We All Stand Equal Before A Wave.
Chris Beall (04:13):
This is what I asked [Chris Bosch 00:04:15] at that dinner that I was so kindly invited to and he had a very clear answer. To begin to move the trust needle, you have seven seconds. So that's a decay curve. When you encounter somebody, there's this time of ambiguity where they're neutral. And as you begin wasting their time, they begin trusting you. If you don't achieve trust after a while, you go into the, "Meh. I don't really care about this person." So his point is you got seven seconds. And during those seven seconds, you have to do two things precisely. One thing is you must show this person clearly that you see the world through their eyes and you're on their side. You understand their situation and you're for them not you. You can still be for you. I don't mean to them the exclusion of you,? But you're for them, you're on their side. And so you can't be on somebody's side unless you know what their side is. You have to show them that you see the world their way.
And then the second thing he said you need to do is establish with this person that you are competent to solve a problem that they have right now. And that's actually where the cold call comes in. What's so interesting about this whole equation, right? What happened to capitalism equation and why did sales become such [G&A 00:05:34]? In the capitalist world, that now becomes the manufacturing of trust.
Corey Frank (05:40):
Well, you started off this conversation by saying, is it okay to tell a sales rep how to do their job?
Chris Beall (05:46):
And the answer is if a sales rep is... If their job is to manufacture trust across a subset of the market... So say I have a market of 10,000. So I have 10 sales reps. So each sales rep has got a thousand people... Whether I assign them or not, doesn't make any difference. Their burden, so to speak, that they need to carry is a thousand trust relationships. So really, what I'm asking them to do is to hold an initial thousand conversations if they can, with their thousand and then have this process start to occur. The most important part is the thousand conversations, not the process. The process that leads to the sale is not irrelevant, but it's really close to irrelevant compared to the essential manufacturing process that needs to be run, which is some trust between every person in that thousand and that rep. And this is one of the reasons that sales teams should be relatively small when they go dominate markets, because it's hard to find that many people in the world that folks would comfortably trust. You actually have to hire salespeople for trustability. Exactly the opposite again. That's what's so fun about all of this, right?
Everything that we think about the classic salesperson, they're slick, they're smooth, they're fast-talking, they're this, they're that. They're the least trusted profession in the world other than politicians who are simply salespeople of futures that they never have to deliver. They make Elon Musk look a guy who's on the hook. So we have two kinds of salespeople people don't trust. Politicians and salespeople. And here we have this paradigm that says, "No, what we need to do to dominate a market and therefore stay in business..." Let's always come back to, is there any safe place in business? There's only one. Market dominance. If you dominate one market, you're pretty safe. If you dominate two, you're four times as safe. And if you dominate three, you're nine times as safe. So your safety factor goes with the square of the number of the markets that you dominate. So if you want to have a company that produces value for your heirs, so to speak, a few generations from now, you need to dominate probably four or five markets. And then you're 25 times a safe. And you take the business failure rate, which tends to run failure in four years and you go, "Oh, for four times 25, that's a hundred years. My business not might be around a hundred years from now." Especially if we can establish a traditional market dominance because then you have [crosstalk 00:08:37].
Corey Frank (08:37):
If you look at someone like [GE 00:08:37] who had dominance in capital, they had dominance in airplane [hitches 00:08:42], they had dominance in consumer goods. And in a span of one generational leadership... Not even, a couple of years, they've ended up selling off all those divisions and becoming fairly irrelevant.
Chris Beall (08:53):
Yeah. They managed to make the classic mistake, which is they mistook the flow of revenue. The best way to get revenue at GE was to load up on GE capital and say, "Go, go, go." So GE capital became this bigger and bigger part of it. And they lost their taste for dominating the real markets that they were in. And then having thrown the anchor through the bottom of the boat, they ended up doing a lot of bailing. And it's hard to get out of that situation. Actually, it's impossible to get out of. It can't be done. But in the general case, if you care about your company and you care about its future existence, you need to dominate. You come all the way down to, "How do I do that?" Well, the unit of change, which in any business process or any process, the question at the core is what's the unit of change? What must change and what are the inputs... What is the probability of change given the inputs and the magnitude of the inputs?
So say, I say the unit of change is that a square foot of floor gets clean when the input is a broom or a vacuum cleaner or a dustpan or whatever. I apply the inputs. There's some probability of getting the change to occur. I multiply that all out. I figure out what the cost is of doing that. And I say, "Oh, well, if I want this big change from not dominating a market to dominating a market, for instance, I have to have this many units of change." And what are they? Well, the unit of change is the fact of someone who is a potential buyer in that market, trusting a salesperson. And they're on a path to trusting that salesperson more than they trust themselves. That is, if the point of purchase can't occur until the buyer trusts the salesperson more than they trust themselves because the buyer's conservative... Why are they conservative? Because in B2B, you're putting your long game, your career, on the line for something short, which is the purchase of something that solves one problem. So you've got to be pretty motivated to risk your career for a purchase.
Corey Frank (10:50):
So the gentleman that you were talking about before, that you were talking with right before this conversation, very large multi-billion dollar company, probably fairly entrenched in the sales enablement, sales operations role wants to trust the product, but doesn't trust it enough. Wants to trust you, but doesn't trust you enough. The status quo, the devil I know is better than the devil I don't.
Chris Beall (11:14):
Well, in this particular case, the product is sold, but there's another sale that needs to be made. So this is a big customer of ours. They consume a million and a half dollars a year. They're a serious big customer, but their paradigm is the ancient paradigm, which is the salesperson makes the decision as to what tools they use and what techniques they use. Given that, it doesn't really matter if he trusts me because there's no way that they're going to change their paradigm until they change their paradigm. So our problem becomes to find a part of that particular company that is in enough trouble, that they will risk some senior manager, a general manager, CEO of one of those units, will risk their career on a new sales paradigm, which they're free to do. It's not like this is a religion to them. It's just a habit.
The old sales paradigm, which is the salesperson does whatever they want, as long as they produce the number, everything's cool. And we only start to manage them when they don't produce the number. That's the old one. And we manage them... Effectively, it's called managing someone out. Just because of modern restrictions around firing people. That's the old paradigm, but that paradigm doesn't allow you to dominate markets. And the reason it doesn't allow you to dominate markets is you can't manufacture trust as fast in that paradigm as a competitor can by using an alternative technique, which is talk to everyone. That's the real problem.
The real problem is that if you want to be in the innovation economy, which means you've got to bring new stuff to market, which brings into play the chasm. So if you can't just sit there and stand pat on your old stuff, but you've got to go, you've got to do new stuff because there are disruptors coming in because software is eating the world. So software will eventually eat you no matter what it is that you do. Did the car industry ever think software would eat the car industry? Imagine that. And you know what? Software ate the car industry.
Corey Frank (13:21):
Well, look at Siebel and Salesforce. I mean, there was a time when I first got into sales where Siebel was the dominant player in the marketplace. Nobody else was even close. And in a matter of a couple of years, this upstart Salesforce usurped them from this heavy integration, heavy software piece for sales automation software. And before that was Brock. Remember Brock was the big one and then Siebel came and then now Salesforce. And Salesforce has been able to continue to innovate, continue to throw new things at it, to maintain their position.
Chris Beall (14:51):
Yeah, this happens over and over. Whatever's heavy gets displaced by something lighter. The definition of software is it's lighter. It's lighter, it's more liquid, it moves faster and it opens up possibilities at the margin, business model possibilities. Salesforce's business model that was so radical was you could actually try it for free. And there was no install. I switched from Oracle to Salesforce in about a week. Million-dollar Oracle CRM implementation. Been going on and going on as part of this big ERP thing that we were doing. And this guy, Kevin Stoffel, who worked for me as my insights sales guide, a little team of four people, five people, whatever. He came to me one day and said, "I know we're doing this Oracle thing. I know that we're really working hard at it. I know we have this big investment going on. Is it okay if I try something else from my team because I'm tired of waiting."
I said, "Well, it's Kevin. I know you, you wouldn't be asking this question unless you already tried something else and it worked. So what is it?" He said, "Okay, this is called Salesforce." And I said, "Did you put data in it?" And he said, "Absolutely." "Is it delivering value?" He said, "Yeah." "You want to show it to me?" He says, "Yeah." He shows me a running CRM that his team's using every day and has been using for a week because he could upload a spreadsheet into it. Million-dollar Oracle implementation gets turned off immediately. That was in the unit of change. The unit of change was you could try it for free... Because Salesforce was softer software than Oracle. Oracle was hard software. We had to run it on our machines. We had to integrate it with this and that, programmers got involved, project managers...
Imagine a little company, really a tiny company, $42 million a year company with more than 20 million a year of that being from cutting two gold master CDs a year and sending them to Germany, needing to go through a year of consulting and integration and whatever. And here this guy comes along, this unassuming kid from Iowa, Dubuque of all places. If you can imagine somebody coming out of Dubuque and doing this. And he goes, "Well, I just tried this thing over here and it seems to work pretty well." Boom. Done.
And then what is the next unit of change? Somebody, me, who believes in that company's ability to deliver in a wider range of circumstances. So I go and start Finish Line Floors. Do I go build an ERP system? No, I took Salesforce. I spent... And I logged this. I spent 16 hours and 33 minutes working on Salesforce in order to make it into a full-blown ERP system for a floor finishing company, including data gathered from the field and pictures coming in and analysis and the whole bet. So softer software. because it was even softer in another way. And it was configurable and programmable and I didn't need programmers, blah, blah, blah... Ate something else. It ate an ERP system that I never bought, which I probably would have had to buy or build. Software eats the world because of its liquidity and flexibility and ability to have short cycle times to value. Look at our company. Our cycle time to value is the shortest in the history of business. One day you go from not touching it to at this moment, at this very instant-
Corey Frank (18:11):
They say, "Listen, Chris, I've done all this work. I've had all these conversations. I'm still not getting market dominance." And you can say, "No, but you can look at this different view, Corey. It looks a scatter chart. It looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, and it needs to be more focused on a particular market. You think you're having conversations that are concentrated or that all conversations are pretty equal. The conversation that has greater atomic weight when they are focused on a particular market. So you have a list problem, Corey." As an example, right?
Chris Beall (18:45):
Or I could say, "We can analyze these conversations," for the cold ones in particular, which are oddly the most important because you only have seven seconds once. You have one shot to move the needle. Now, fortunately, if you fail, as long as you don't fail in a memorable way, thank God you're not memorable, then you can go take another shot, but it's effectively a cold call, even though it will be in this followup list.
Corey Frank (19:17):
As long as you don't fail in a memorable way. That's crazy.
Chris Beall (19:17):
I mean, thank God salespeople are not memorable. But if you fail in a memorable way, when you have the follow-up, you could have a problem. But so it comes down to, are you talking to a list that makes sense? That's your 808 dials here. When you talk to them, to those individuals, do you talk to them in a way in which you establish that you are on their side, that you see the world their way and that you're competent to solve a problem they have right now?
And this is where this whole different anatomy of a cold call comes about. We really need to get into it because that's... I mean, I keep saying it's interesting. To me, it's just fascinating that we're at a point in history where the capitalist revolution is over because there's no longer any need for capital to do the classic thing we did in business, which makes factories. Software is eating the world. Innovations and the pace of flow of innovations is up, but the process of taking those innovations to market has gotten more difficult rather than easier. And if you can take innovation to market as a whole product and dominate that market, you'll mentally live to fight another day, but you might be able to dominate another market. And if you have the ability to dominate markets as a core capability of your company, then you can do anything you want in business, including acquiring other companies and all this other stuff. Because you own this innovation engine, the real hard part, which is taking it to market.
But when you come right down to it, you have to manufacture units of trust. And to do that, you have seven seconds. And within those seven seconds, you have to do two things. And one of those things requires, in the traditional paradigm, requires guesswork. And the guests that we traditionally make is that the problem we solve is the problem that is on this prospect's mind at this moment. When Chris Voss said, "Right now," to me that evening, when he said, "You need to show this person that you're competent to solve a problem they have right now," it was the words right now that blew my brain out. Because I just suddenly realized, wait a minute, the problem this person has right now is me. And it turns out the secret to the whole damned thing is for me to actually say, "I am the problem." And to offer a solution to the problem that is me. And that moves the trust needle every time.
And this is where our customers, when we teach them this, get confused because they then go back to the traditional model and say, "Yeah, but did it produce a meeting?" And that's not the point. The point is 103 million... That was what I said, a hundred and... This little test drive here, at 103... or 108 million bits of information, most of which were not in the words. This is the other part that's hard for people to understand is within those seven seconds, I can only get out so many words. I can probably say 40 words. Let's try to see how many words there are. "I know I'm in an interruption." That's five. "Can I have 27 seconds to tell you why I called?" That's eleven. So 16 words are emitted during that time. So those 16 words average in this case, I think six or seven characters each. So 16 times six, times eight, that's only about 768 bits of information. That's not very much. 768 bits. And yet those 16 words took seven seconds. And in those seven seconds, there are 140,000 bits of information that I've omitted.
While all the rest of it's the tone of voice, it's prosody, it's what do I sound like? It's who do I sound like? Do I sound like somebody you can trust? So this brings down the talent issue to something that real people don't think about, which is the quality of the voice. I'll call it obvious sincerity of the human being who is having that first seven-second conversation, is the key to market dominance. The script's purpose, the 768 bits of information, role is to be like a surfboard. The job of the surfboard is not to ride the wave. Throw surfboards in the ocean all day long. And you will not have very many artistic wave riding experiences. Surfboards just bob around and do whatever they do. And every once in a while, one of them comes in on a wave and stays on it for a while. Nothing very interesting happens. You put a surfer on the surfboard, constrained by the surfboard. They can't walk around anywhere else on the water. They can only walk around on that tiny little floaty thing that they got underneath them and a fairly small amount of that. But if their skill is high and their courage is there, they know that they're doing within that script, that is the surfboard, they can express their personality.
Corey Frank (24:42):
Let me talk about that for a second. First of all, I love that analogy. The script is your surfboard. The surfer is the tone and the sincerity and who wields that tool.
Chris Beall (24:51):
Corey Frank (24:53):
So James... What's the gentleman's name? James Wahlberg. He does the videos... I love his-
Chris Beall (24:57):
Corey Frank (24:57):
Thornburg, right? And I love his breakthrough script, but his value prop that he delivers, I think that's where the hiccup is because his tone is exceptional. Very empathetic. His pacing is a masterclass. His body language just gets into it. I mean, he doesn't have a hundred calls. He has one call a hundred times. I mean, he is just the Iceman. He does not leave his wingman. I love it. But it just seems that... though far be it from me... I don't know. I respect the hell out of him for doing it, but it seems like he could do some help on that initial big idea. That seemed to be where he's missing a lot of his success. Now [Brandy 00:25:46] is not the sexiest product, but I still think that's irrelevant.
Chris Beall (25:49):
Yeah. Well, it's a pure trust product too. I mean, it's got the issue that it's a funny kind of software. It's to do this analysis. He is reluctant to talk about a breakthrough because of his own personality. I've actually taken him through the entire messaging workshop. And this is what I do a lot of now, is messaging workshops. And the more sophisticated somebody is, the less likely they are to like the message that we come up with. They're still thinking [crosstalk 00:26:20].
Corey Frank (26:22):
I think he's close. I think really he's so close.
Chris Beall (26:23):
He's close. But I'm happy to have him out there amusing the masses. It works like crazy, but it is true that the surfboard constrains the performance. But I'd rather have a master surfer on a shitty surfboard than the other way... than me on the best surfboard in the world. You put me out there on a wave and you're not going to get much because I wouldn't even get up on the board.
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