[00:00:00] The Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios.
[00:00:06] On this podcast, we’ve done our fair share of audio clips around what to do amidst COVID.
[00:00:13] And the gentlemen are about to speak with, despite the fact that he could probably have told you about a month ago had we had him on then the benefits of, I guess like what you could do to to make sure that you’re getting the right message across your business during this period. What we’re going to talk about today is something completely different. It’s coming back out of this whole period, entering back into the real world and establishing a bit more normality. What it is that you can do as an individual, as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, to make sure that the message that you’re getting out there is one that helps your business in the best way possible. Possible. And that individual is a gentleman called Ian Altman. He’s been a CEO for two decades. He’s founded and grown his own business services and technology companies from zero dollars to over one billion dollars in value. He consults to the likes of SJP and Johnson and Johnson and his latest book. I really encourage you to get your hands on. It’s called Same Side Selling How Integrity and Collaboration Drive Extraordinary Results for Sellers and Buyers. But he’s got to tell us about that as we go. But without further ado and thanks so much for joining us, Lambro. Thanks for having me here. Now, I’m going to I’m going to put you on the spot. Here you are. You you run your own podcast as well, which is called Same Side Selling. So you have no excuse if anything goes horribly wrong during this podcast as a podcast. So ask yourself.
[00:01:40] Oh, sure. Thanks for bringing that up. Now the pressure is on. If the audio doesn’t sound good, I’m a buffoon, which is not atypical for me. So we’re all good.
[00:01:53] So tell us tell us what same side selling is, because ultimately it’s something that, you know, whether it’s your podcasts, your website, your book. It is. It is recurring.
[00:02:01] It’s kind of like your it’s your thing that you’ve kind of put out there. And I’d be really keen for you to share with with the listeners what it is.
[00:02:09] So the idea of same side selling my coauthors again, I’m Jack Quarrell Polls. And as you can probably guess from Jack’s last name, Quarrels, Jack is a guy who’s been two decades in purchasing and procurement. And so the idea of same side selling is how do we make it so that instead of buyers and sellers being in an adversarial position opposed to one another, how do we get the buyer and the seller on the same side working collaboratively towards a common goal? So instead of having friction and headbutting, we’re working side by side. If you think about almost every book that has been written about sales, either uses a game metaphore or a bad metaphor in the game, you have a winner and a loser in a battle metaphore. The loser dies. And then we wonder why there’s this adversarial tension between buyer and seller. And there’s a better way to do that instead of just always trying to sell and thinking about like a match where I have to conquer the other person. You can actually get to a place where your client or prospect is advocating for you.
[00:03:13] Mm hmm. I mean, it’s it’s crazy when you think about it, right? Because I think when it when you enter business, you naturally you naturally think you’re going to enter this like a wolf of Wall Street eske room where the where you’re going to be on the phone selling.
[00:03:27] And it’s all about closing this other person and that other person on the other end of the phone is really just a means to an end that they’re KPI, that there’s someone who is really just a number in your book. And I think the reality is and I’ve been doing this myself a and for about five years now, I feel like I’ve been I have been humbled by the process. Is is this this whole kind of notion that selling shouldn’t be this hard? There shouldn’t be two parties realistic, as in there shouldn’t be opposition between three parties. There should be much more alignment between what those individuals are doing and making sure that the way that your communicating is collaborative. I think that’s incredibly tricky now. At the same time, I think it’s tricky because we don’t know if you noticed the same. I have in Australia, for instance, is that I found that the conversations that I’m having are a lot more blunt and to the point because there are smart catching up for like a coffee or lunch or a beer or whatever it is that you normally do to catch up with people. I feel like that’s gone out the window a little bit and I feel like that needs to start kind of we need to bring back those human elements to the process. How do you think things are going to kind of evolve and over the next over the next few months is as a bit of normality starts to reinstate itself?
[00:04:46] Well, I think what’s happening is this, is that a lot of people in sales have had this notion that, well, look, I need you to build rapport and I have to build this relationship so that this person really likes me. And I often say that if they needed a friend, they’d get a puppy. They don’t necessarily you’re not usually dealing with. Well, who are lonely and just need compete in Chip. That’s a whole different type of business instead. If you think about it, the vendors who you as a business owner value the most are the ones who deliver the greatest results for your business. It is the people who you don’t feel like they constantly have their hand in your pocket trying to get money from you, but instead you often look at them and say, wow, this person really makes our lives easier, makes our lives better, solves a problem that was important to us that we couldn’t solve on our own. And those the people you value the most. So in a in a pire business of mine, which we grew to a pretty good size, you mentioned. The clients who valued us the most. Oftentimes when I look back, it was almost a little bit contentious. We first started working together, but then as we started delivering results, so we worked with major pharmaceutical companies. When we sped up the drug discovery process or the FDA approval process in the US and we cut 100 days off a time to market with the pharmaceutical company equated to a million dollars a day, and we saved a hundred days for them. One hundred million dollars. They loved us. They didn’t care what they were paying us because we were making such a profound impact. And I think that as we move forward, it becomes more and more important as a business to understand what problems you uniquely solve for your ideal clients and then align your messaging around solving that problem. So your point about looks so cheap. People are kind of just cutting right to the chase. What it comes down to is, look, I don’t have time for all the, you know, all the pleasantries and this and that is that they’re being rude. It’s just they’re saying, look, I’ve got a lot of pressure on my business. Help me understand how you can help me. And if you if you bring up something that’s important to me, you’ve got my attention. And if not, I’m moving on to the next day. And that’s one of the key things for entrepreneurs, is to make sure that you have a message that resonates with the client around a problem that they’re looking to solve. Not just around what it is you’re trying to sell.
[00:07:20] And you mentioned before that like, you know, people need a friend, they should get a dog, which I absolutely, absolutely love. The there’s we spoke one of the first one of the first podcast guess I had on this on this on this program was it was a gentleman called Scott Gerber. And he’s he’s written a book called Super Connector. And it speaks about a kind of, I guess, slightly different way of doing things and or may not be different, hence, hence the question. But he speaks about this mentality where he uses the example of a of a financial adviser who is advising high net worth individuals. And he speaks about when you’re selling high ticket items, as in when your business has, whether you operate as an individual or as a group, when you’re selling high ticket items, it’s important to us to build and foster a relationship with that individual because that acts as a catalyst for business relationships, for sales opportunities.
[00:08:16] Would you say that that’s unnecessary or would you say that there’s a time and a place for that? Or what are your thoughts?
[00:08:21] Well, I mean, I think that the the the idea is that what we want to do it. I don’t want to. I don’t want to undervalue the idea of relationships because obviously relationships matter. But what it comes down to is a lot of times people think that means, oh, I have to be buddy buddy with somebody. So if you’re someone whose business has been in crisis and now you’re trying to pivot out of it, you have a choice of I can speak to two different businesses. One business is going to come to me. And while they’re looking to build rapport and they want to be my friend and this and that and the other business says, look, you’re the three main problems that we solve. And one of those happens to be one of your top issues. Guess what? You’re going to focus on that second vendor, because that’s the person you’re most likely to identify with. So once you start delivering value and results for them, the relationship comes out of it because they say, wow, this person is really delivering for us and we can count on them. And this problem went away and we got great results out of it. So. One of the things we talked about in the book is research I’ve done with over ten thousand executives to have a make and approved decisions. And it comes down to there are three question is that people consistently ask, no matter where a vast area or what size business, no matter where it is in the world, people ask the same three questions when they’re looking to make or approve a decision.
[00:09:50] All right. And I’ve got to ask, what are the three questions?
[00:09:52] Well, you know, it’s funny, I’m surprised you would ask this because no one ever wants to know at that point. So keep in mind, this is a cross, a written thousand people. And what I do is I put people into groups. I put executives into groups. And I and I give them a scenario, say, look, you’re somebody who I’m member of. Your team comes to you and says, we got to buy this thing. It costs twenty thousand dollars, takes the vendor 45 days to implement it.
[00:10:18] No resources whatsoever on your part. And they give you a 10 year guarantee. What are the five questions you have to ask in order to make an informed decision after that exercise? Then I have narrowed down to the top three questions and the questions come down to this. The first question people ask is what problem or problems does this solve for us? Yeah.
[00:10:40] I mean, that’s I mean, that’s that’s kind of one of the age-Old questions, right, is if you’re going to create a product or create a business about around a product or service, it’s about what what is it that you’re ultimately trying to sell for? Because if you not solving for a problem, if you’re just solving what you believe to be a problem, then ultimately you don’t really have a product or service that’s fit for the market.
[00:11:00] Sure. And especially in the B2B space. This is true in the B2C space. There’s not really a problem that a Ferrari is solving. It’s just more someone wants one. Right. So luxury consumer products have a totally different model.
[00:11:17] Yeah. I mean, you look at one of the biggest consumer selling products of all time, like the iPhone, for instance, or the smartphone. There wasn’t a fundamental problem that you could have pinpointed. They focus on a user experience, enhancing your user experience and bringing people together, which I wouldn’t really call a problem. But it was an amazing product that people needed.
[00:11:36] Exactly. And keep in mind, on a consumer level, people make decisions in a very different way. So that first question in a business context is what problem or problems does the solve? For me, the second question people ask is, why do I need it and why do I need it? Comes down to basically into the question of what happens if you don’t solve this. So in some cases, what’ll happen is someone says, oh, well, we solve this problem for people. And you say, great, well, so what happens if they don’t solve it? That’s no big deal. Well, guess what, then they’re not going to spend money to solve it, because even though you can solve the problem, they really don’t care. Or there were tons of software vendors who said, well, gee, we can save each of your employees four minutes a day through our software and you have a thousand employees. That’s 4000 minutes a day. And when you extrapolate that out and people will do the math and say, look how much we’re saving you and the business executives said we’re not buying that because it’s not like people are going to be more productive with additional four minutes. They’re just going to spend four more minutes on social media. I don’t care. So so the idea is that you have to have something first that identifies the problem that you solve. And then that you can quantify and say here’s the impact of the consequence of not solving that problem. Then the third question that people ask is, what’s the likely result or outcome? If I spend the money on this solution now, it doesn’t mean what did the sales person say? It says, what’s the likely outcome or result in the likely outcome result comes down to. If you think about when customers say, well, can you give me a reference to someone else just like us? What they’re really saying is, yeah, I want evidence that people just like us have gotten the results that we need. And if I hear that, then I’m okay moving forward. And if I don’t hear that, then not so much. And so if I if I focus on those three questions, what problem does it solve? Why do we need it? And what’s the likely result or outcome? What it means is that when I approach a new business, I don’t start by saying, here’s the service or product that I offer. I start instead by saying our clients usually come to us when they’re facing one of these three main problems. And then which one of those stands out for you? And then people say, well, gee, the second one really, because when people say they have that problem, what they often tell us is that it leads to this consequence or this impact. And is that something you know? Do you think that’s consistent with how you’re facing that Clinton? Oh, yeah, we have that same problem. And for the right organizations. We’ve been able to deliver this type of result, but the way we approach it isn’t the right fit for everyone. I don’t yet know if I can help you. But if that if that problem is important enough, I’m happy to learn more. To see if we might be able to help. And that’s a concept they referred to as this arm, which is people are sick of salespeople coming in and saying, I have the best solution. I can definitely solve your problem. By the way, what’s your problem? And it’s just not credible. So we need to disarm the notion that we’re just there to sell something by acknowledging that not everyone is a good fit for us.
[00:14:51] And, you know, and I mean, I’ve done my fair share of sales so as courses and whatnot over the last kind of five years and and and read quite a few of the books out there on the market. And I think that I think there are a lot of Sotho sales techniques coming through in that I don’t think it’s as black and white as I think. There’s three questions you’ve demonstrated in that show. And that choice of wording around. Look, I don’t know if it’s going to be the right solution for you, but also doing things like, you know, realizing that price is not something that should be spoken about in the early stages. Speaking about, hey, we’re going to do this all for you and you don’t need to interact in the process or bring in any resources from your own team in the process. These are all things that aren’t overly important in the decision making process, but ultimately help, but ultimately in delaying those sorts of those sorts of points, you’re you’re focusing first and foremost on what is most important to the decision maker.
[00:15:45] Absolutely. And the thing is that once we understand and know this is the way people will make decisions, then you realize that any thing that we are doing that is not in line with what problems we solve, why they need it. What’s the likely outcome? A result is actually lengthening and complicating the sales process, not making it shorter. And another way to think about it is if you use a mythical metaphore. You can’t go in there pitching a treatment, what you’re seeking is. I want to see if this client has the symptom. Is that an indicator of a condition that we are masterful at treating? And if the client doesn’t have the symptoms or if after we look at the symptoms they don’t have that condition, then we have no business trying to sell them something, because at that point we’re just sold snake or.
[00:16:35] Yeah, definitely. There’s a book I read recently called Built to Sell. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it. And but it runs through the process of how how an individual converts that business from a kind of a full service marketing agency through to a very specific business that does just the design of logos through a very fixed process. And it’s what I find really fascinating about it is that it speaks to it speaks of the entrepreneurs who started off a business and in the early stages just kind of took every project that they could. So they’d go out, they’d meet with a client or a potential client. I should say that here the requirements of that client. And they’d say, hey, yeah, I can I can do this. So, Ian, you spoke you spoke previously just to loop this back. You spoke about how you’re using the medical example. You don’t want to sell a product to someone who doesn’t need it. You want to first diagnose what symptoms they have. In this case, what problems they’re facing within their organization and then determining whether your product is the right fit or your service sorry, is the right fit for that individual.
[00:17:38] I think at the same time, there’s there’s the are that the other era that I commonly say, which is that that I was just alluding to, is that you’re trying to everything you go in and you identify what the problem is, but instead of saying, hey, here’s what my solution is to your problem. Instead, you almost concoct a solution in real time using pulling together skills. And then you have to kind of offer you accept the projects, then reverse engineer how you can actually solve that problem for that prospect when you may never have done so before. You may be quite an experience at doing it. And that leads to another terrible outcome. How is it that people avoid that?
[00:18:15] Well, I think that it’s it’s focusing on what you do well and give mine what your clients want to know is what problem you solve, why you need it. What’s the likely result or outcome if you’re not confident you can deliver the results or outcome, that client is going to just suck you into the vortex of evil because you’re all just gonna be in a situation where you can’t deliver. You’re going to expend ridiculous amount of resources trying to deliver. You’re still going to come up short. You’re going to have this contentious argument where you’re not going to get repeat and referral business. They may not even want to pay for what you did. And somehow, somewhere someone’s high five and going, yeah, but we saw this account instead of looking at what you do really well. Give me an example in my business. I work almost exclusively with B2B customer. So people sewing business to business and I’ll get people to say, well, we sell business to government and I said, you know what? That’s fantastic. If you sell business to business and to government, I’m happy to help you. If you only sell the government.
[00:19:19] I’m not the right person for you. And they usually spend 20 minutes trying to convince me. Why shouldn’t I? You know what? I’m really flattered, but it’s just it’s not going to be a fit. Similarly, I don’t help businesses that sell just to consumers. Now, the only exception I make his wealth management, because the way customers make decisions and wealth management is almost identical to how customers make decisions in the business world. But I intentionally exclude the areas where I don’t feel I’m the best resource is not to say that I couldn’t do it. It’s not to say that same side selling doesn’t applied to consumer businesses, because I get notes from people every week about how they’ve used this in this context, in that context. But I know that the area I can serve the best is businesses who sell to other businesses, especially when services are involved. And I make a conscious decision to walk away from opportunities that aren’t the best fit. I had someone approach me as a large telecom company to deliver a keynote address a while back, and they contacted me and said, Oh, we’ve seen Ian speak. We’d love to have him come speak at our event. It’s this conference for the top women in sales for our industry. And I said, look, I’m really flattered, thank you so much. Just out of curiosity, do you think your audience would respond better to a woman speaker than a male speaker? Because it is the women in sales conference and the organizers said, you know, it’s it’s funny. We hadn’t really thought about that. And I’ve talked to three other speakers who are all men. You’re the first person I mentioned. I said, you know, there are some phenomenal speakers. Can I recommend someone to you? And if they don’t work out, they don’t be. I’m happy to do it. Don’t get me wrong. I just want to make sure you’re well, sir. And people when I described that story like, oh, you walked away from business. Well, six months later, the head of that division called me up and said, hey, thanks so much. That was fantastic. The press you recommended was great. Now we have this bigger event for our entire organization. Are you available on this day? No, I didn’t do that because I was looking for that other engagement.
[00:21:25] I just had to literally look at the situation and say they’re better served by somebody else and it’s my job to direct them to do that. Now, the complicated part is if I was hungry for business, it’s a really hard decision to make, but it’s the right decision to make 100 percent.
[00:21:42] It is. And can I say you mentioned that it came back six months. I’ve got a meeting this Friday. I kid you. Not in two years. Right. Two years ago, I went and gave someone advice. I said, here’s what you need to keep in mind for your upcoming software development project, because that’s what that’s what my business specializes in. I said, here’s what you need to keep in mind. You’ve obviously already got a vendor locked in as to who’s going to supply these services to you. I’m not going to try and win that business. They said, let’s take you up on your offer. We had the kind of standard 30 minute consult that we did for free. I said I’m soon offered, sir year, even though there’s no chance that you’re going to be a client of ours. No worries. They go off under that project.
[00:22:21] I kid you. Not a week ago, I get a message on LinkedIn. Didn’t ever remember the conversation. Had to go through emails from two years ago to refamiliarize myself. And this Friday, after two years, have a follow up meeting with that individual who’s got a part in new project that he thinks were the perfect fit for. I mean, the chancellor. You don’t you do these things because that may happen. Sure. Like, you don’t want to have that intent that like, oh, I want to I want to help this guy out because maybe one day he’ll work with me. It’s just about going out and sanctuary. Your message of what you’re doing as a business owner. Like if your message is to help people, in my case, help people to build great tech products and take them to market, then wouldn’t it be a major hypocrite if I’d only do it if there was a check signed, if there was a contract signed that, you know, that was in place? I’m sure we all need to be commercial. We all need to make money. I get it. But you also there’s also a degree of, you know, sanctuary. The mission is what you’re setting out to do and genuinely fulfilling that in the market, you know?
[00:23:19] And the key is that what you did is you you operated with integrity. You serve that audience and it comes back. There’s there’s a certain there’s a group of executives that I’ll speak at events several times a year and I offer them at the end, look, any of the topics I covered, I’m happy to give you a 20 minute session where I’ll answer any questions that you have.
[00:23:44] And the most common piece of feedback here at the end is, wow, there’s nothing you weren’t trying to sell us anything. Everything was just trying to help me. I said, no, that, you know, I appreciate that. Now, about 30 percent of people that share to that call end up engaging me to do work with them. Mm hmm. So it’s I just know that, look, if I deliver great value to people, then they’re going to want more of that. And if everything they need for me, I can deliver in 20 minutes. I don’t need to charge them for that 20 minutes. If all they needed was 20 minutes worth of input, you know what? Such as life. Now, if I had nothing more than 20 minutes worth of content, then I’d have to think about my business model. But fortunately, I have a little bit more than that.
[00:24:35] And it’s it’s I’m so, you know, I’m I’m really frustrated with this, especially during lockdown has been this this just a major push towards. And I’ve seen the emails. I’ve seen them over and over again. The large accounting firms, the large banks. I don’t need a name. Then we know who they are. The large banks sending around these emails about webinars that they’re doing. And I’ve been privy to these webinars. I haven’t sat in on one. I’ve walked past someone sitting in on one. And I’ve caught a glimpse of 30 seconds midway through the presentation. And that is all I needed to pinpoint straight away, that it was never about adding value. It was about showing, hey, we’re here to show you that we know the way the market’s going to move. And we’ve got products in place that can protect your financial position. And it’s all about the Opsahl. And I just find that that is it’s such a it’s such a I don’t know. It feels like that kind of slimy, say, Rosebowl mentality of we’re going to try and do everything we can to sell a product instead of adding genuine value through what we do. And I think it’s something that entrepreneurs have the they have the means to do because they can pivot. They don’t need to deal with red tape within large organizations. They can, you know, set up these sorts of structures whereby they can offer free advice, as easy as tomorrow are to people that will come back to repay them. And I just don’t think people are doing enough of it.
[00:26:02] Well, Lambros, one of the things that we have to remember is that nobody was born with the notion of giving being a slimy, bad sales pitch. It’s something they learned from somebody else. So someone said, oh, here’s the way you do business. You do this. And then. And they just did it. So all we’re trying to do is change people’s behavior a little bit that says, look, you walk into a store. Remember those stores that used to be able to walk in to see you? You walk into the store and hope the hyper ambitious salesperson walks up and says, May I help you? And what’s the most common answer? No, thanks. Just look at. So everyone in the world, people do that. Why is that? Because stereo typically we don’t see sales people is there to help. We see salespeople as they’re serving their needs, not our needs. And so if we behave like a stereotypical salesperson, the client or Prospect says, are stereotypical salesperson. I’ve been taught not to trust these people. I’ve been taught not to share information with them because their intentions are not are not are not fair. They’re not integrity based. So I’m not going to share information with them. So I haven’t I’ve been sure that there are three different personas in the world of sales. There is an order taker, there is a salesperson, and there’s a subject matter expert. The order taker is the person where the client calls up and says, look, here’s what I need. Here’s how many of it I need from you is two pieces of information. How much is it? When can you deliver it? The salesperson believes their job is to sell whatever they are, they have to sell whether the client needs it or not. And the subject matter expert is the person the client would actually pay to speak with. If that’s what it took to tap into their knowledge. And so we know the order taker in most places in the world has been replaced by Amazon. So that’s not a sustainable model.
[00:28:02] So now we’re never forced to choose between the salesperson, the subject matter expert. It doesn’t matter what people think they are. What you have to ask yourself is when you are the customer. Who do you want to deal with? The salesperson or the subject matter expert? Universally, people say, I want the subject matter experts. So what we try to convey to people is, look, you need to come across as a subject matter expert who’s trying to determine if people have a condition that you’re good at treating, not somebody who’s just selling the treatment itself. And when you do that, you don’t think about it. If you go to a good doctor, you don’t feel like they’ve sold. You want a procedure or a medication. You feel like they’ve diagnosed a condition. And they say, well, this is a serious condition. That could be life-Threatening, could be in Comi, could be dangerous. And I have a way to solve it. And the patient says, really, how do we get that? And in that, in the context of sales, people often use this term of closing a sale, which is a horrific term because you’re not closing an opportunity, you’re not closing anything, you’re opening a relationship. And so Jim Cathcart, who is kind of a legend in the sales world, Jim, says, like, you should use the term confirming the sale and sales context. If you’ve done your job right. If you’re asking the right questions along the way at the end of the sales process, your, quote, big closing or confirming question is, so would you like our help? Not what’s gonna take for me to get you into this car today. It’s just. Would you like our help? Oh, yeah, I would. Okay. Here’s how that’ll work. And it’s much, much more even handed. And now you can see that it’s two people sitting side by side trying to deliver a Commons solution, not somebody figuring out how can I tricks someone into doing business with me.
[00:29:57] Yeah, and I can’t reinforce enough. And I just have to keep coming back to this scene because out because of who our listeners probably are being startup founders and entrepreneurs, I can’t reinforce enough the importance of making sure that once you have diagnosed that, that because it is it is these are easy conversations to have. These aren’t supposed to be hard conversations to have to help to diagnose what the problem is. I just can’t reinforce enough the importance of making sure that you stay true to the product or service yourself selling. And the reason I have a and I’ll give you I’ll give you a bit of foresight as to why this has been such a painful journey for myself for the first three years of writing Station five. And I’m sure you can you can probably tell that I capering your back to this. There’s a lot of internal pain. So for the first three years of Station five, I can tell you right now, most entrepreneurs that I spoke to, when I say most, I mean probably 80 to 85 percent of entrepreneurs that I spoke to gave me the exact same message over and over again. Say yes first, then work out how you’re going to do it.
[00:30:58] Have you heard this one before? Absolutely. Absolutely. It is a horrible message. It is the worst common advice that any startup entrepreneur can receive. In my opinion and the reason is that you are encouraging someone to take on work that does not feel that is not fit, sorry, perfectly within the service offering that they have. You’re encouraging them to say yes to something that they likely cannot do just for the intent of, as you said, closing the door now. And it’s it’s it’s it’s not it’s it’s not ideal from multiple perspectives.
[00:31:34] Now, limbers, if you are honest and OUTFRONT with your client, this can work out OK. And let me let me give you a story that illustrates. And so my prior business, we had one or one of my salespeople was working with an account. One of the largest telecom companies in the world. And we had a piece of software that was about 35000 copies of software news working this opportunity that he had forecast with services at about seventy five thousand dollars. And he said to me, well, I’m going out and meeting with this person, but I don’t think they have the budget. And I’m thinking this is a multibillion dollar multinational company. I don’t think the 75 grand is going to be the issue. Let me come. When are you coming due to the appointment? And soon the entire time the client is saying, well, can the software do this? My sales are. Oh, yeah, I can do that. You can do this. You can do that mole time. I’m thinking to myself. This isn’t the right software for it. So I interrupted and I said, my sales rep, Steve is with me.
[00:32:30] And I said, you know, look, Mary Ellen was your name is Marilyn. I hear what you’re saying in Steve’s right. The software can do these things. But based on what I’m hearing, I don’t think it’s the right software for what you’re trying to do, because we can tailor to do all these things, but we’re kind of making to do things that it’s not designed to do. Keith, tell me a little bit more about what this problem is. So she describes a little more and then she says. So that’s really what I’m looking for this to do, you know? Have you guys built something like this before? And of course, money. And he wants to say yes. And I said and I said, not exactly. So we built something similar to this for this bank. We’ve built something kind of similar for this manufacturing company. But not something. That’s exactly what you’ve described.
[00:33:19] And she says, you know, I’ve talked to different people in industry and everyone says they’ve had something like this. But if they had, I would know about it because this is my business. She said, what do you think it would take for you to do this? And I said, well, keep mine. We hadn’t built this exact thing.
[00:33:35] Can we cook? Can we pull it? Can we pause that? And before you push forward with the story, there is sort of like there is so much trust built in the relationship at that point in time, so much trust like in that story where you’ve gotten towards a point where she’s asking you for advice and trusting you over every other vendor she’s spoken to thus far. And that trust is invaluable.
[00:33:59] And it happened because I was probably the first vendor she had dealt with that said, no, we haven’t done exactly that. And by the way, this thing that you’re thinking about buying isn’t the right thing, even though that’s what we’re here to sell. And so it built that trust and she said, so what do you think it would take to build a sense of like what you described as pretty complex, even just building a prototype of this or a pilot is going to cost at least three quarters million dollars to a million dollars. Building this out, full blown is going to be a several million dollar endeavor. And here’s the worst part based on what you’ve described to make. The ongoing maintenance of this software is going to cost the better part of a million dollars a year just to maintain. Now, keep in mind, during our discussion, I had Astron off questions that she made it clear that this problem was costing them 20 million dollars a year. So it wasn’t like I was doing something out there that I knew was just going to fall on deaf ears. I said, look, but it’s going to cost, you know, a million dollars a year just to maintain it. And she said, so how soon could you guys start on the prototype? Right. And we ended up doing over 15 million dollars in business with them on this project. Now, when I first said to her, I don’t think the product can do what you’re looking for. Where is the right fit?
[00:35:22] I think my guy Steve needed oxygen at that point cause he was like, man, I got this deal. And it isn’t like now, man, my boss is killing this. Now, Steve made a lot of money on this account over time that probably didn’t earn. And that’s okay.
[00:35:41] But he learned a life skill, which he took with him for the rest of it.
[00:35:44] Exactly. Because he was he was marginally successful with me. And then he went to work for another company. Then a couple of years later, he calls me up. He says, oh, I’m doing great. And one of our top salesperson. Oh, it’s fantastic. What are you doing? He goes, Well, I’m fine. You do what you had told me to do. All right. Okay, great. But the important guys lesson there.
[00:36:05] To your point is, A, we took the time to build trust with this client so that they knew we were first and foremost looking out for their interests. B, we were very candid about what we could do and couldn’t do for them. And that built enough trust.
[00:36:19] They said, you know what, everyone’s been lying to us. I trust these people to do this. Let’s have you do it. And so they entrusted us to build something that we admittedly said we’d never built. Now, if you do it that way, you can get away with selling something and then building it, because now the client is in on the deal. But if you say, oh, yeah, we can do this, then you go back and say, man, how are we gonna do this? That’s a problem, because you’re setting yourself up for failure.
[00:36:48] Yeah, I completely agree.
[00:36:50] And before we before we wrap up, there’s something I really want to share with the audience. It’s it’s around. You mentioned to me before we started the podcast during covered a wild lockdown with science happen. You you created a free course and it is a no strings attached cause it’s not about selling. It’s about adding value in a time where people really need it. Startup founders really need this advice. And a lot of these tips who have. We’ve kind of, I guess, grazed the surface off during this chat. But through that course, you do go through the kind of details. Can you can you tell us in a in a few moments just what what it is that people could expect to get out, of course, and where they can real quickly.
[00:37:27] So it’s just if they’re going to seem side selling academy dot com, there’s a there’s a course there called growth in crisis. And there’s a link when the home page, you can go there and it tells you everything you need to do to sign up for it. It does not subject you to a lifetime of spam. You have to give up your firstborn child. It’s just it’s a three part course that has worksheets associated with it. And the first lesson in growth and crisis. The first part of the first lesson says, look, during these times you need to be helpful, not opportunistic. So it would have been kind of cynical if I had created a course that I sold instead of just giving it away. So when people sign up for that, they get access to that three part course it deals with how should you set up your environment and how do you separate meetings when it’s digital instead of in person? It goes to how do you how do you ascertain the situation that your clients or prospects are in? So, you know, whether or not you should even be trying to present your solutions to people at this time, how to pivot your ideas and then how to properly qualify opportunities in this time of crisis. Because coming out of Cauvin, one of the things that you have to recognize is that if you have a solution that that client doesn’t perceive as one of their top three priorities, they’re not going to spend time and focus on it. So we get to do is look at from the context of what problems do we solve and say, OK, for that hyper client, what are the biggest things that they’re facing right now? And if I can pivot the messaging around my offering to align with one of their top priorities, then I have the ability to attract their attention. But if I just seem like white noise, they just seem like, you know, something that’s not part of their core mission right now.
[00:39:18] I’m going to waste a lot of time and I’m probably not going to get the result I’m looking for.
[00:39:22] Definitely. And just to clarify, for those who didn’t catch it, it was same side selling academy dot com. Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah.
[00:39:30] Perfect. And for those who do want to check out Ian’s book, it’s same side selling as well. You’re not going to forget it after the number of times that we’ve spoken about it. Today, though, across the podcast, the book and same side selling academy.
[00:39:42] I think it’s a great suite of of offerings there, particularly for startup founders and entrepreneurs. So please make sure that you check it out and and check out Ian Oltmanns Web website as well. Which is it? Ian Altman, dot com. Ian, thanks so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
[00:39:59] No, it was fun. Thanks.
[00:40:17] The venture podcast with Lambros Photios.