Reframing the Sales Process With Demand-Side Sales

Series 2: Episode 4 | 31 January 2023

Show notes | Transcript

“I don’t need to sell my product; I need to help people buy it.”

On today’s Circuit Breaker Show, Bob and Greg discuss their book Demand-Side Sales. They will talk about why they wrote it, and what they learned from it. They’ll also talk about what they believe to be the most difficult challenge for people implementing demand-side sales.

Bob will give his perspective on between getting the first yes or no, which is more important in sales. You will learn what progress means in Jobs to Be Done and why it is so important in sales. You will discover why you, as a salesperson,  actually need to be a therapist. They’ll discuss the problem of feature-benefit selling and how to make it more effective.

You’ll discover why it is difficult to apply demand-side sales to companies that have not done Jobs To Be Done. They will share how difficult it was for them to do Jobs To Be Done as well and how contracting with another company changed their sales and marketing processes. They will provide insights into the two demand-side sales courses that are yet to be launched.

Join Bob and Greg for this thought-provoking and timely discussion.

Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn in this Show:

  • Why are there no sales professors?
  • The mindset shift that most salespeople need
  • In sales, is it more important to get the first yes or the first no?
  • The value of understanding Jobs To Be Done when doing demand-side sales
  • Do most companies know why customers buy their product?
  • Why you need to hire someone to do Jobs To Be Done
  • Tidbits about the demand-side sales courses
  • And so much more…

Hosts

Reframing the Sales Process With Demand-Side Sales – Transcript

Greg Engle
Hey Bob, So today we want to talk about something that we’ve actually neglected for the first season. It’s something that we had a project on over a year ago now, and we never talked about it. I don’t know if we were afraid of it, I don’t know if we wanted to deflect it, I don’t know what the reason was but I want to talk about demand side sales. 

We wrote a book about it; it launched two years ago. I just want to talk about why we wrote it, what our takeaways are. Now that it’s that far from us writing it, what did we think about it? So first, I just want to want you to give a brief, why did you write demand side sales?

Bob Moesta
A couple things were going on, I think right after Clay had passed, so it was one of those things where Clay and I had talked a lot, but it was reflecting on that relationship with him. One thing that we would always talk about was the fact is, why are there no sales professors? It came back to this notion why are they not teaching sales and business school? 

Having done multiple startups and the things that we do, sales is usually the hardest of all the things, maybe not for you, but for me it was very difficult. And how the frame of jobs would be done had helped me realize, I don’t need to sell my product, I need to help people buy my product, and flipping that lens. The other thing is you and I had the experience of doing it at the homebuilder and I think the fact is sales is near and dear to our heart, because we know how hard it is. I think we wrote it from that perspective of being able to help people who don’t even know they sell, to realize that they do sell and that it’s a better frame instead of thinking you’re selling but that you’re helping people make progress. So like teachers and nurses, they’re all people who sell a lesson to a student, but the student has to make the progress. 

Greg Engle
I know it’s been a long time since we wrote it so but thinking back, what did you think was going to be the biggest challenge that people had trying to implement demand side sales? 

Bob Moesta
I think the biggest thing to me was not having been in the space, there’s a lot of sales training people but it was more what’s a foundational piece and so I felt like the hardest part was trying to talk about the customer without the product. Most people think of sales as a combination of psychology and product and process and throwing it all together. So, I thought that people from a mindset perspective, were going to have a hard time figuring out how to put those things into this mindset. 

Greg Engle
So I think one of the things we talked about a lot is similar to product development and a lot of things we do, which is most salespeople look at the world through their product and then look at the customer. Changing that lens is very hard, trying to look at what people are trying to get done and then look at how your product helps them get that done. How it fits into the fits in the world is a very hard thing to do because you get infatuated, you get in love, you get so much data about your product, it’s hard to actually do that. 

Bob Moesta
You know, I think people like Ash minority, and those people in the startup world talk about ‘love the problem, not the product’. I feel like as an engineer, and being trained as an engineer, they taught me how to love the product I created and I had to unlearn all that, because at some point in time it’s not about the product I love, it’s about helping people make progress. 

The product they might build might not be the greatest product, but it is simple enough people can use it and so it’s that aspect of flipping that lens. The bigger thing is that most people look at their customer through their product, they see the product and then they say; who buys it? who needs it? who wants it? As opposed to talking about a body of people who are struggling, and say how do we design something to fit into their lives? 

Greg Engle
That’s the lens, right? That’s looking at it through the right side of the binoculars or the microscope or whatever metaphor we want to use. I think a lot of times what happens is, salespeople we’re so eager to get to the ‘Yes’, so eager to get to people seeing the value we see, we are like eager children trying to get approval. In your experience, is it more important to get to the first ‘yes’ or the first ‘no’?

Bob Moesta
No’s are way more important than yes’. To me the moment you’ll say yes, you start to realize it’s very hard for people to say yes. And when you really start to understand how people make decisions, they eliminate things first before they choose something. Part of this is to realize that no is way more important than yes in the process of buying. 

Greg Engle
The way I look at it, the no’s help you shape the playing field, the no’s are the boundaries. So as you get to the no’s or even the ‘I don’t knows’ help you shape that. As a salesperson, you’re always trying to shape that field of play, so that you know where you can go or not go, then helping people make the progress they want to make. We often say, but we don’t tell people what does that mean? When we say the progress people want to make, what are we talking about? 

Bob Moesta
We’re talking about the new state, the new normal, the thing that they’re trying to get to so they don’t have the pain or the pleasure. Being able to understand the combo of those two things and the role it plays in enabling people to stop doing one thing and start doing something new. 

Greg Engle
If you follow jobs be done. How is progress defined? 

Bob Moesta
I’m not sure they would be listening to this podcast if they don’t follow it.

Greg Engle
Hey, there might be somebody just stumbled upon it. 

Bob Moesta
Who knows, they should listen to the previous one, there’s no way that somebody randomly came across it. 

Greg Engle
I know you tried to just define it but progress in the way we talk about it in jobs to be done.

Bob Moesta
Progress is a combination, it’s a set of things. So it’s not any one thing, most people are trying to say people bought my product for one reason but progress is a combination of a situation you’re in, some context that’s causing you to feel some kind of struggling moment or some pain of what I’m doing is not working or I can do better. The second part of it is the outcome, what is it like to be on the other side when you make that progress. It includes, progress has to have tradeoffs, it has to have pushes and pulls and anxieties and habits and it has to have hiring criteria and firing criteria. As you start to look at how we make that decision, you realize that at some point, if I can’t make tradeoffs, I can’t make the progress. If I don’t have the push, I can’t make the progress. If I can’t overcome the anxieties, I can’t make progress. It’s a system and we need to understand the critical components of that system that enable people to say yes, and most of the time, they have to say no first. 

Greg Engle
The way we talk about when we’re training people or talking to people about sales is, the most basic part of it is the force of progress. It’s the push, why are they doing something? The pull, what do they expect to get done from doing this new thing? Or buying this new thing? The anxieties, What about the new things scares me? What about the new things make me anxious? What about the new things? What questions do I have about the new thing? Then the habit of what do I have to give up? And the tricky part for salespeople is, you often don’t just sell one person, you have to sell multiple people, and not everybody at one organization, not everybody in one family is going to have the same problems.

Bob Moesta
Correct, or same progress that they want to get. We’ve done this for schools, what causes us to take a kid out of one school and put them into a new school? Well, two parents might have very different opinions or different views of the progress they’re trying to make for the child, part of it is the alignment of those things. 

Greg Engle
So what’s the responsibility of the salesperson in helping people understand their progress? 

Bob Moesta
Yeah. line I always use is; As a salesperson, you’d need to be a therapist, because you’ve to be able to understand the progress that the buyer wants and the progress that the user wants and understand the tradeoffs that you can’t do both. So how do you get them to come to terms on the things that are not possible, they need to unpack the underlying causal mechanisms for each of the critical people in the process, also understand that if they don’t make progress for the buyer, or for the user their product will not be successful. They need to understand the constituents who are part of that process but also understand that I need to satisfy and help both make progress.

Greg Engle
What’s the problem with feature benefit selling? 

Bob Moesta
Well, there’s a there’s a lot. Where to start with that? When you start shouting features and benefits at people, it’s about things that you think are true, and that people want, but when people are in certain contexts, they want some things and not others. So, a lot of times when people are negotiating for price, it’s because you’ve told them five features, they really don’t want, not because it fits. You start to realize that it’s over engineered, or over built. So they’re like ‘but I don’t need this and this and this, how about a 20% discount?’. You realize that you end up 1. Shouting things at them. And 2. Half the time, they don’t know what that benefit means to them, because it’s stated in the supply side terms, not in the demand side term. 

Greg Engle
I just want to make sure we hammer this home, feature benefits sales (I’m going to make an exaggeration). Most of the time, if you watch a bad salesperson, or a very new salesperson, they’ll just spout out every feature and benefit that the product has. The problem there is more basic, every time you give them a feature and benefit, you can cause a new struggling moment. So every time you do that, you can be pushing yourselves back in the timeline, by a feature benefit sales approach. Now, we still say you have to do features and benefits, but you have to tailor it to the customer.

Bob Moesta
Tailor it to their context and their outcome. 

Greg Engle
The first thing you have to know when you do demand side sales, (we argue about all the time), you need to understand the job to be done. It’s non-negotiable. 

Bob Moesta
I would say that in the early days that was not true, but I will say nowadays that having gone through several projects is without the jobs without understanding the jobs, it’s very hard for people to understand what to do with it. It’s very dependent on understanding the progress people are trying to make and realizing that the role that sales plays is helping them find that progress, as opposed to pushing the product on them and closing the sale. Just closing the sale doesn’t make the progress, they make the progress when they use the product that you sold them, 

Greg Engle
They use it to solve a problem that they have, that’s the key, because you can use a product and that solve your problem.

Bob Moesta
The lesson that we’ve learned is that it’s very hard to apply demand side sales to companies that have not done the heavy lifting of finding the jobs. But once you have the jobs, it’s a much easier lift getting people and aligning both the product, the product people and the innovation and the entrepreneurship with the salespeople, because suddenly they’re speaking the same language and using the same things. But without having done that heavy lifting, we’ve worked around several different ways to try to build a shortcut, but they’ve all failed. 

Greg Engle
I think shortcutting it fails because as salespeople, we have biases. And when we try to shortcut it, we don’t talk to the customer, we try to talk to the salespeople, we have biases. That’s the same thing of putting the lens the right way. We have the biases, so spending the time of talking to your customers, spending the time of understanding the why? Divorce from your product. That’s the hard part for most people. That’s why we get paid most of the time, because trying to do jobs by yourself is very difficult. 

Bob Moesta
We couldn’t do it. We couldn’t we hired somebody to help us.

Greg Engle
We hired someone to do it for us as well, even though it’s what we do every day, but we have biases, we would do what our customers do to us. Which is; ‘Well, I know Joe, Joe didn’t really mean that. No, Joe meant that’.  

Bob Moesta
We’ve done it long enough to know that that’s hard for us to do and at the same time, we’ve been able to take what we’ve learned from it in and modify our sales process and build a marketing process around it and do some other things with it. Part of the point of demand side sales is when you have jobs, it’s not just for product, you can use it for sales, and that it’s more about an extension of how this work around understanding the job that your customer is trying to get done, can be utilized not only for product, but for sales, and marketing, and strategy. So to show the breadth of the power of it, but the thing we didn’t anticipate, or the unintended consequences, those people who weren’t interested in product and just wanted to do sales, the first lift is to be able to understand what progress your customers are really trying to make. Drucker said it best ‘what companies think they know about their customer, and why they buy is mostly wrong’. The reason why customers buy is rarely known by the company, that to me is what we’re learning. The other part to me is this aspect of most salespeople have been set up to be order takers, so they’re used to giving features and benefits, doing a demo, being able to close. How do I get past the gatekeeper? So, without the lens of jobs, all these other barriers come to play. But if you understand the struggling moment, getting past the gatekeeper is easy when you understand those struggles that they have. 

Greg Engle
And I’m going to do a shameless plug here, and it’s going to force Bob’s hand, because we’ve developed two courses about demand side sales, and we have not launched yet, but we’ll be launching. But I want to give a big caveat, it is not going to tell you how to find the Jasmeet of your customers, one of the offerings is going to be a very simple offering. And it’s going to be kind of a rehash of the book. And it will give you a couple of steps to do but it’s going to be really rehash the book. Second one is going to give you some exercises to practice. But you have to understand your demand side, there is no way I can teach you how to do jobs to be done in a way that you’re going to get to true demand through a course like that. 

Bob Moesta
That’s right, but if you do know the jobs, and then you take this class, it’s going to be very powerful. 

Greg Engle
Even if you don’t know the jobs, it will help you understand some of the principles that we talked about, and we’ll give you exercises to do those principles. But I suggest that try to figure out how to get to the jobs of why people are buying. It will give you some of the strategies that we use in each step of the process of, of demand side sales, it will give you those types of things that will give you practices to do, it’s a good thing to do if you believe you have some good empathy of your customer, because I’m not saying you have to have the exact jobs to be done. But all I’m saying is you have to understand you have to have good empathy of your customer. It’s much easier for us from the jobs unions aspect of it, there are people that can do it, as long as you have really good empathy, but know that you probably need to go deeper. 

And my suggestion from you would be to partner with somebody, you go talk to customers of theirs and let them go talk to customers of yours, and then figure it out from there. But the best way to do it is unfortunately, another shameless plug, is to hire us to help you with jobs, we’re going to hire someone to help you with doing jobs to be done would be the best thing. If your salespeople are fairly seasoned, they understand their customer, this is a good program for them to go through to just reset that making sure the lens is correct, that you’re looking through the people, then you’re looking through your product and not the other way.

Yep, that is our shameless plug for the season. Hopefully, it will be once. The other thing that I want you to do for homework, and it’s somewhat more difficult for homework for this. But I want you to stop and think about if you’re in sales, or marketing, or in those types of things where you’re dealing with customers. Are you just throwing up all your features and benefits? Or are you helping people figure out the progress they want to make? And remember the progress is at the most basic level, the forces of progress and the tradeoffs that you are willing to make. I want you to look at your sales pitch, I want you to look at your marketing, because does it really help people make progress or is it just throw up all these things that they have to now make 1000 decisions on. So look at your stuff, figure it out. 

Bob Moesta
So the interesting part is a lot of the presentations create anxiety because you bring up all these other things. Try to look at your pitch or demo and try to understand it from their perspective. And as you start to, what concerns come up? What forces are you creating? What pushes and pulls you’re creating? Understand that.mso I think that’s a good exercise. 

Greg Engle
All right. So go out to do that, and hopefully we’ll catch on the next episode. 

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