Solve a Problem (or Go Away)

In this exclusive Outbound Sales, No Fluff chapter 1 bonus content, we interview Rachel Mae, a Sales Gal and Director of Sales at A Sales Guy, Inc.. We discuss the question, “why does everybody hates salespeople?”, and the idea of solving a problem for your buyers (or going away). And if you can’t solve a problem, do you know somebody who can?

Discover more exclusive content from Outbound Sales, No Fluff, in the Audible version here.


Ryan:  I am really excited for this initial review of chapter one. The interesting thing here is I met Rachel now as a customer of someone I work with, but I recently realized that she has known about Outbound Sales, No Fluff for a couple of years now. She came across this a while back. And so as we release this new content this is really exciting because Rachel has a perspective that, not only the fact that she knows the book, but she also works for an organization that is all about chapter one here.

Why does everybody hates salespeople? And the idea of solve a problem or go away. And if you can’t, do you know somebody? So Rachel, thank you for joining us today. I’m really, really excited to hear your input here. But tell me a little bit more about like what was your experience? How did you find the book and then why does this chapter, specifically, talk to you? And what you do today or before today? I’m excited about this.

Rachel:  Yeah, totally. So I’m so excited to be here and talk about the book because like you said I kind of stumbled across it on LinkedIn a couple of years ago right when it came out, right? And at the time I was actually in sales training in an sales event for an organization that was really pulling young adults straight out of college into their first sales role and my focus was on developing those people. So when I saw a book that was written by people just like them who were new in their sales career, they weren’t like 30 years in, they weren’t professing to be giant sales gurus or something, but they were like, “Here are the things we learned that helped us be successful in our first couple of years in the field.” I knew that this was something that I needed to not only read but share with my team. And so that’s what really drew me to the book.

And then, of course, I opened chapter one and I’m like, “Hot damn, they nailed it,” right? Like, the very first thing in this book I would say is the most important lesson that every salesperson needs to learn to be successful and it is the least taught internally within an organization. So like when new sales people are given their desk and their laptop and their cell phone, the first thing that they’re given in addition to those things is product training. And they’re taught all about the product.

And so they get super excited, they want to go out and talk about the product, my product is the greatest thing ever, it’s going to change everything for everyone. And they get all amped up. But what nobody teaches them is what problems exist in their customer’s environment, how those problems manifest themselves and get all ugly and make things terrible for everyone and prevent them from meeting their goals and how it feels for them and why it’s so hard to solve it, all of that granular detail about their customer environment, nobody teaches them that. And so they have to default to gross old sales tactics like closing and overcoming objections and pitching and product. And those are all the things that make people hate sales people.

Because it’s just like being the guy or gal at a party who just talks and talks and talks about themselves and never shows any interest in the other people around them, right? And like nobody likes that person. And so they don’t like it at a party and they don’t like it in a sales call.

That’s why they hate us. So I loved that the first thing y’all did was kind of hammer home the most important point and really the foundation of sales, which is solve a problem or go the fuck away.

Ryan:  So that to me has always been fundamental, but as you said most people fail to understand that, like that’s so key, that’s the number one thing. Because we get the product training and we get to digest on all the things we could do, the features, the functionality and so on and so forth. But why the fuck does that matter, right? Like, why? And Mike Weinberg talks about like, “Hey, so what?” Like, if you deliver a value proposition you can say, “So what?” Like, “Hey, go away,” right? “So what?”

So to me it’s like how do you get to a point where you’re saying, “Hey,” an outbound sales especially, like, “Hey, I know I’m interrupting you. Nobody likes this, but … but we have potentially something that’s going to solve a problem. If that’s not the case, that’s okay, I’ll go away. But why is that such a problem? Why do you think that’s such a problem? Like, I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on this.” And especially coming from enablement, right? And also how do you relate that to the fact that we all have like KPI’s, we all have to get so many meetings and so on and so forth, right? Like, how do we bridge that gap? Do you have any like insight there?

Rachel:  I mean, I think ideally, right? It’s like kind of, again, I said in the book like if you as an organization, as a sales leader, are leaning on your sales people, especially new sales people, to make a list of the problems that you solve you’re already in the wrong place, you’re already messed it up, right? So ideally from an internal standpoint organizations would be doing a lot more training and a lot more development around understanding your customer. And they would require new sales people to speak to 20 existing customers in their first month and ask them questions about where they were in their current state before becoming a customer, how that was impacting them, really like taking notes on their words, what they’re saying. And then asking questions about, “Okay, well, what happened in the future?” Really getting like sticky and crunchy with that, like what metrics moved, what KPI’s moved for them. Breaking down the emotional piece but as well as like how to [unclear 06:55], right? Getting really in depth. And that way the sales people could hear it right from the customer and they could use those words in their initial conversations with prospects.

So because that doesn’t happen …

Ryan:  Wait, hold on. That doesn’t happen?

Rachel:  That’s not really a thing and I just made it up. It’s just an idea that most people don’t follow through on, right? But I think because of that, and another reason I love this book is because it’s not about what an organization needs to do, it’s what a sales person needs to do.

Ryan:  Yes.

Rachel:  And so that’s amazing because that means that I as the salesperson once I know that I need to understand the problems and understand my client’s business and understand the KPI’s and the impact and the root cause and the current state and the future state, all that stuff, well, I have Google. So I can go out, and there are a million places to find that information and study and read and talk to other people in the space and get that education for myself. But if the company doesn’t do it and the salesperson doesn’t do it or doesn’t read this fucking book and know they should, then what happens, I mean, why it happens, is because with my new reps I know when I talk to them about opening up conversations about problems and diagnosing and all of that, they were so terrified to open up a conversation, they were scared that someone was going to go, “Oh, really? That sounds interesting. Tell me more about how you do that,” and they weren’t going to know the answer. They were scared that they were going to get into conversation where the business acumen was over their heads, and so because of that they stayed where they felt safe which is product, right? We feel safe there.

I think the other reason why it happens is even the definition of problems is not as specific as it needs to be, because a lot of people think that they are trying to solve problems, but what they’re trying to do is solve the kind of technical or process type of problem that connects right back to their solution.

Ryan:  Which … look, let’s throw it out there, right? Gap selling. What you do as a profession right now really helps define how to really get into the difference between a technical problem and a business problem.

Rachel:  Right.

Ryan:  And that might be the gap, no pun intended.

Rachel:  For lack of a better term.

Ryan:  That causes a lot of individuals that just can’t understand this concept. And I think that something that’s really interesting here is like a lot of folks when they get a list, they have a territory, they think they can go help people. Like you said, business acumen is key, like if you don’t get that, like you just … I’m sorry, like that’s number one, right?

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ryan:  Like, don’t pick up the phone and call somebody at an organization without understanding exactly what their role is and how they operate in that role. If you don’t get that, go educate yourself, go talk to people in that role. Like, that’s a big challenge, right?

But once you get that piece and then you start to apply that to an organization, how do you bridge that gap from where they are and where they want to be? And that’s where gap selling comes into play. But most people are really, really struggling with this because of the fact that they’re not willing to challenge. And here’s the thing, I know Rachel’s very good at what she does. She probably is about … I don’t know, is actually about a 40% or 50% better than average person in terms of when you get somebody on the phone. I see your data, I get this now. I get this stuff.

When you get someone on the phone you don’t allow someone to say, “Hey, I’m not interested.” You don’t allow someone to say, “I’m busy, call back later.” Your numbers are through the roof, like you’re like astronomically better than most people. When you get someone on the phone you’re able to actually get the information from them. Can you speak a little bit more about why you feel like you’re that way? In the lens of this whole idea of like, hey, I’m a salesperson, most people hate me, but I’m here to solve a problem. Because that’s the big take away from this chapter. What is it that makes you you? I’m just curious, also so people can hear this.

Rachel:  Well, thank you. That’s very nice. I try … I really put a lot of effort. And I think this is what’s great about sales is that you never think you’re good enough. People who do think they’re good enough are probably terrible. But any good sales person never thinks they’re good enough, and you’re always trying to get better and get better. But I think (1) I understand the problems, so since I understand the problems my customers are having and how they play out and how they impact them I know how to find them. And so I know what the symptoms are, and so I really just start asking questions. And I’m not thinking about … So the first thing is business acumen, understand the problem, the second is mindset.

I’m not thinking about getting a meeting I’m not thinking about, “Am I going to win this cold call or not?” I’m thinking about, “Yes, I know I’m an interruption. But if this person is having the problem I solve and I don’t get them to open up and share that with me so that they can agree to let me help them, help them whether they buy anything from me or not because they don’t have to buy anything from me.” I know shit …

Ryan:  Yes.

Rachel:  … I can help …

Ryan:  You know people.

Rachel:  Right?

Ryan:  You can help.

Rachel:  So I’m just like, “If I don’t do that, then I have done a great disservice to this person.” And so it’s my job to find out if they have the problems I can solve or even if they have the problems I know other people can solve, right? Like, I send people to connect and sell, when they tell me, “Rachel, our win rates are through the roof. We’re winning all the time. Our reps are … they’re never discounting, their sales cycles are short. But damn, if we can’t get anyone on the phone,” I’m like, “I got a guy,” right? And that makes me feel great. That makes me feel great. That is a win when I’m prospecting. Anytime I can find a problem and help someone solve it. And so that mindset is so huge. And that confidence in knowing that you really do have something valuable to offer whether they buy or not, I think it changes everything that you do in prospecting and throughout the entire sales cycle.

Ryan:  So you just hit on something … that’s the thing that’s missed in this chapter, right? Which is like, “Hey, I get it. Like, everyone else, sales people solve a problem or go away. Great.” But if I can’t solve the problem, hey, you’re an expert in that specific problem, would you have a lot of conversations around a specific problem or even just directly you think you have, you will learn a lot about the things that attach to that same problem, they’re all like … hey, maybe it’s a … maybe it’s a predecessor or a post-cessor around like, “Hey, maybe have this thing solved.” But, you know what I’m saying?

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ryan:  Like, when you become that person, when you become that person, I have a blog post from way back in the day about this idea of that person, become that person, it’s like, “Hey, look, like I have a problem at home, like my toilet’s … it doesn’t work right now.” What do I do? I go to my like family first, like who’s that person. And then if that doesn’t work then I go to like Yelp or something, right? Like, who’s that person. But like in sales you need to become that person.

Rachel:  Yes.

Ryan:  You need to become that person where someone calls you when they think they have a problem. And even if you can’t solve that problem you could solve a problem around that problem. And when you’re that person, when you’re that person you can confidentially, like with confidence, you can go out and engage someone like what you do, which you do really, really well, I see the data, you do that because most people will say, “Hey, like I might not be there right now but you’re going to help them solve a problem.”

So any other ideas, tips, tricks you have to come out of this? Because this is really, really exciting. I mean, I really appreciate your willingness to share some feedback here. But anything else you want to like button this up on to end this little interview here?

Rachel:  I mean, I just I hope that … my hope is that more sales people … like this book I think should be on every salesperson’s desk when they walk into their first day. It’s easily digestible, it has like a basic framework of how a new person should get started and avoid being ruined. Like you should have called it avoid having your sales career be ruined in your first 90 days, right? Like, because you’re going to walk in and you’re going to see people around you doing it wrong and you’re going to emulate them and you’re going to have some crusty sales manager who hasn’t made a call or been out in the field for 50 years telling you all this closing … coffee is for closers nonsense.

And if you listen to this one thing which is solve a problem and go away, you can’t solve a problem if you don’t understand what their problems are and your customer’s current environment. And understand that your job is not to sell, right? Keenan always says, “If you’re selling while you’re selling you’re not selling.” And so if you’re trying to sell you’re on the wrong track. If you’re trying to help you’re on the right track. And just always keep that mindset and it will serve you well.

Ryan:  I appreciate it. Rachel, thank you so much for offering your input. It’s so exciting. Just  the fact that the way our relationship has been created and the fact that like several years later like, “Oh, my God, that’s how we connected. We didn’t even connect with that,” but the fact that you’re able to provide some guidance to those who are listening to this new audio version.

If anyone wants to get in touch with you and they want to learn a little bit more about some of the things that you’re doing, how can they reach out?

Rachel:  Yeah, well, they can find me Rachel Mae on LinkedIn. I’m the only one actually, which is crazy. Or you could always hit me up at Slide in my DM if you need some help or you want to throw around some ideas. But, yeah, I love how we met, Ryan, because it’s everything we just talked about, right? What happened was I had a problem and you were the guy. I had a problem and I had never met you, but because of what you had put out into the world, in social media and all the people that you connected to one another, when I reached out to family and friends and Yelp which is really LinkedIn for us, right?

Ryan:  Yep.

Rachel:  You were the guy and you solved my problem. And solving that problem by the way changed my life as a sales person. My pipeline is busting at the seams. So thank you.

Ryan:  Yeah, well, we have a bright future together. Thank you so much for sharing that. Not a personal thing, but … Hey, thank you so much for this. And Rachel, I appreciate your time.

Rachel:  Yeah.

Ryan:  So keep doing your thing and I appreciate your time on this conversation. All the best.

Rachel:  Well done.

Ryan:  Thank you.

Rachel:  All right, thanks, Ryan.

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