The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

How to Close Sales Faster with a Question Library w/ Dom Atkatz


Train your sales team with these six Ps:

  • Persona
  • Plan
  • Probe
  • Prepare
  • Prequalify
  • Post-mortem

This is how Dominic Atkatz, Sales Development Manager at, does it.

FLEXE is behind the world's first collaborative warehousing platform and networks over 1,000 warehouses around the country. They help companies that have ever-changing warehousing needs connect with companies that are seeking to maximize the utility of their warehouse space and labor.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach dot ioh, the leading sales engagement platform helping companies, sellers and customer success engaged with buyers and customers in the modern sales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes resources in the book on sales engagement coming soon. Now let's get into today's episode. Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of these sales engagement podcast. I am your host, joving all, senior content managing editor over an outreach, and we are joined today by dom at cats. He's the STR and bedr manager over at flex. He is here to talk about selling customers on what someone say is a disruptive product. How do you break through the status quote? How do you convince them to be interested? How do you convietits them to switch things up? But I before we get into that, I want toss it on over to dom, who can introduce himself tell us a little bit about flex and what he's doing over there. Dumb, thank you so much for being on the show today. Thanks, Joe. Really appreciate it. So, yeah, Dod right anywhere. I had up the sales development team here at flex. What we are ultimately responsible at doing is taking our current clients and the use cases that we most commonly support and understanding the outward facing characteristics of those clients and identifying those characteristics or attributes with other companies or quote unquote, accounts that we should retarget. Once we do that, we understand who the best people are to get in touch with, the most applicable to, of course, our model and are buying processed and we get in touch with them and then we introduce them to this disruptive idea that we got. Going on, a little bit of background about me. I went to school at a place called Middlebury College. I kind of me entered my way back out west. Along the way I worked in the food and beverage business, which, in short, had supply chain, is plays a big, key component to the success of those businesses, particularly in the natural foods business, where, if you want to have a nationwide presence to sell your product, you basically need a supply chain setup to support that without your products perishing. And so as I move back up to Seattle, I wanted to grow my career to the text space and I came across flax, which is essentially the world's first collaborative warehouse platform, and so we help companies that have ever so changing warehousing meets connect with companies that are seeking to maximize utility of their warehouse space and labor. And being in Celo kind in the backyard of a major warehouse player, aren't you, you can say that you know the first letter start isn't a last letters and man, and that's what really riving a major component of our model. To give you, I think, a brief story of how we started. Our Co founders were at a dinner party about six years ago at a buddy's house who, this buddy owns and operates a wine and beer accessories business out of out of opera or the Kent Auburn area, and the nature of wine and beer accessories is that they sell relatively seasonally and in turn, your inventory levels throughout the year are going to have major spikes and major peaks and major valleys. And he was complaining to our co founders, Gosh, you know, I have a warehouse that is literally packed to the brand to the point where it's dangerous for about three months out of the year, but the remaining nine months out of the year it's kind of like crickets and I'm just Gosh, I'm underutilizing my... here, them up or a pain for something that I'm not using to its full extent. And in the meantime I got this guy across the street with a warehouse. I'm in an industrial warehousing park and I know there's this guy across the street who has a countercyclical business to mine and he's bursting at the scenes when I'm just trying to figure out something to do with my warehouse labor and vice versa. It would be really cool if we could share our subsequent space and labor with each other in the Times that we needed it and we could have a symbiotic relationship, and so that's what's really was the genesis of the flex idea. Now, tying it back to what's just be a little bit more supposit here. For those who don't know who Amazon is, you know, Amazon is totally change the game and ways in which customer buying habits are changing and at the rate of which they're changing, and companies are struggling to either keep up with the breadth of their distribution network or even the strategies to try to be as nimble as what they're doing, and so taking that step from sharing seasonal inventory spikes with counter seasonal space, so to speak. We're applying this to okay, distribution models. How can I, if you know, have a distribution network that meets my customer buying habits today and tomorrow and the next day as they continue to change, without having the to have mass of capital expenditures and spending a ton of time setting up a setting up that infrastructure? And so that's kind of led us to where we are to day. We have a two major segments in our model. Once, you know, classic full Palid in full palied out inventory overflow. And the second is, okay, how do I get my products closer to my end customer? And so the way you describe it to me right then, I can immediately see the benefits to to someone who has a lot, a lot of inventory that needs to be stored. So where you're paying for warehouse space. But I think that initial hurdle is right. It is kind of a different model than what people are used to, what people have been doing for a hundred years. So what is your first step when you do finally land that meeting with someone who needs this, this service. What is your first step to convincing them that they have a problem? Sure, so, it depends on the prospect. In certain cases you have somebody WHO's willing to give information, somewhat willingly, and other instances you have people who are relatively guarded. So there's two major approaches that we like to employ when we when we go out and speak with the customer overall. All in all, the ultimate goal is to understand the assumptions that they have, that they from the traditional solution that they are now applying to what they think are solution. Is the way in which you do that is, you know, if you you ever if you're talking to somebody who is somewhat guarded and doesn't have that absolute trust in you just yet or hasn't had the time to fully process the messaging that caught their eye in the first place about who you are, you need to tell a story, you need to tell a narrative as to why you exist and have that narrative be something that ties to everyone involved. And you know, for us that narrative is ever changing, ever changing customer buying habits and everybody, everybody experiences the impacts of that in who's selling a physical good. The second way you go about selling this effectively, or introducing this model effectively rather, is asking the right questions and understanding. Hey, you've incurred this...

...problem in the past. Correct, yes, well, so how tell me a little bit more about how you've solved for this problem? From there, it's all about asking the right follow up questions and identifying. Okay, Hey, they're solving it this way. That's you know, is this something that we can tie back to a value problem that flex offers right, where they doing something inefficiently, that they have it that that they may not even deem as an efficient today. And so that's how we generally get the get the conversation started. And so how do you prepare your reps to do that? That sort of investigation any like a very non interrogation way? Right, you want to be able to have like a natural conversation. What types of training and coaching are you giving your reps so that they may do this in like a very natural way? Sure, so, I'm try. You know, there's so many places where I can start here, but the the key thing is, as when we hire and Wean, it all starts with hiring, right it's just this ability to have someone who one totally believes in our model and too, is genuinely curious about the things that they know and not shameful when they and not shable to ask about the things that they don't and that you know. That goes back to tying around like okay, assumptions and and all that. But once we hire those types of employees, people who really believe in our model, who are genuinely inquisitive, who had this genuine desire to learn versus to tell right, that is kind of like the key foundation that we look for. We employ a milestone on boarding project for you. Have a series of tasks that basically tie back to your ability to perform on the phone. We we can basically scale up all of our messaging that we send over email or link ten relatively easy. I mean we could have any relatively anyone do that, but we can't. But we can't control all the time, is the way, what's coming out of people's mouths when they're talking to our to our prospects, and so that's where we spend a ton of our time on boarding our employees. One thing that we do is we stick them on the INBOW call line immediately. I mean you're not here for more than really ten days before you're manning the phones and basically taking in bown calls and kind of mapping out your way through these conversations in a relatively low risk setting. Of course we vet who's calling in and we know who's calling him when they're calling in, so we can divert certain leads to certain certain strs. So we are only setting up the new strs with the less risky or lower stake scenarios. From there, we do we put a lot of stress on reviewing our calls and finding a way for recording our calls and annotating them on a basically on a weekly basis. I mean some really promote for the STRS. It's a daily basis for them. And then we have a we have a weekly sync where we all go over together, we ask about hey, we have this moment here where we did something really good or there's something where the prospect changed their mind about how they are thinking about us, or maybe the prospect just didn't realize the value US and they're asking about price right, and so you know, what were you thinking of that moment? Understanding, like you know what was going on in your head to act the way that you acted, and so it's a two way street, right like we we develop basically the answers that we need to know as we qualify a prospect through our sales model, and we leave it up to our reps to decide... they want to ask the questions to get there. Now there's, you know, I'll be able with certain codes that we have or mindset that we have when we ask questions. Right, like, very rarely you ask a close ended question, you know, especially when I do of a call, unless you know the answer for certain is going to be yes. But really we've designed kind of a series, you know, a question library as well, and we've prioritized those so that when someone jumps in the Callrec okay, this is these are the things that I need to get out of the way first and then I can worry about the secondary stuff later. The other thing that we do is, prior to a call, to read a lot of communication between our SC arts and our account executives who take a lot of calls together, and that includes precall outlines or templates where we talked about, okay, Hey, this is the information that we know these are the the foreseeable pain points that they have, these are the foreseeable use cases that they would be interested in learning about, so client case studies that we can talk to them about, and then these are the questions that we need to go ask right. So that's we do a lot of strategizing in front so that we can come into a call with, you know, something in our head of what we're going to do next and how we're going to do it. A couple fall up questions. Yeah, talk a while. There none, no worries. Going back to a new REP is ten days in and they're manning the inbound call. Yeah, you said you can bet the inbound calls kind of in real time and route them to maybe more senior Rep. if this is a big account coming in, how are you doing that? How are you vetting that right away? And then second is this rep sitting like on the floor when they're at taking these abound calls? Is all the other reps around are using that as kind of a training opportunity? That's exactly right. I mean it's it may not be as sophisticated as people are envisioning, but really it's all of us are on the floor and the key thing is is that I've identified it's the key thing is with any team is to identify who you're who your sub leaders are. And you know, as you saigment, your team's out and we have two major segments. So we try to identify, okay, who are subleaders within each team and when the phone rings, everybody has call Id, at least for us, and we can see who companies call it and if we don't it will give it to the new new hire. But the new high I'll be AK. I got this for sifive hundred company online. I don't think I'm ready for this. And then we'll pass them on to pay a more seat. Your Person Right. But if it's you see the caller ID, hey, it's nobody, okay, give it to give it to new hire three weeks, in two weeks and whatever it may be. So that's kind of how we go about it but that doesn't work without having sub leaders who you know are your most believable people at the company, are early sentner team that can help leave that charge and distribute appropriately. And then you mentioned kind of a repository of questions or like a library of question is that a living document is that? Is that a Google dot do you share or you have some sort of internal tool that you've built? Yeah, yeah, so we basically, and this is actually I'm happy you ask this, because we have this thing called the Mbat doc and it started in Google sheets. So what it basically does is it? It basically starts with strategic high level questions just to kind of get to paint the landscape of the client, who's calling him, of the prospect who's calling rather, and then at you know, based on we have a lot of if then then if the answer is this, then you respond on with that. And it's not that complicated. I meanink there's only three if then mend's in in our imbaunt dog and I would encourage most people to keep it blow to simplify things. But based on that you'd like, okay, if this, then...

...that, if this, then proceed or deal't proceed at all. But basically we start with the strategic questions first, get that high level qualifications and then we talk more about tactical stuff, right, tactical details of the project and whether or not we can actually do it. The reason why we do it that way versus starting with the tactical questions first and then going into strategy, is that we don't want to quickly DQ somebody or have them or DQ ourselves. Rather, when somebody comes to US thinking that a need to have or that a nice to have in our model is a need to have for themselves, if that makes sense. So, because we've kind of redefined the way in which companies engage and disengage with outside warehousing providers, a once traditional need to have becomes a nice to have with our model. I mean, I think that's one super useful for all of our listeners to think about creating something like this for their own team, almost like a I don't know if it's the right word, flow chart or I mean it makes me think of when I took a c plus plus coding class. Right, you have like these the paths that go down and and you know kind of what to what to do and how to execute depending on the response that you're getting. So I think that's that's super helpful. Yeah, sorry to interrupt, but we've we've evolved from the Google sheet to and I'm going to pitch this APP. So they better yeah, listen up, whatever name of APP that's coming up, listen up. Yeah, so this APP is called duly and it's a note taking APP that's linked to the sales force and you really cool thing about it is that I just imported our, you know, inbound doc questions into this APP. And what happens is this. It's a note taking template that when it sees that you're typing something out, like a detail out or a keyword that's a prospect says, it POPs up cards for objection handling. So when a prospect asks about availability too early or they ask about price too early, we have cards that, you know, objection handling cards that pop up in their note taking template. So the s USCR doesn't have to like go to another page, you know, on their computer or other APP and their computer to figure out, okay, how do I respond to this, you know, and not sound like I don't know what I'm talking about? And so it just keeps everybody on track and in the right place. And then also, I think the inherent, theherent benefit is that it automatically links the contact to the account in sales force and just sends the note straight to the sales horse so that we don't lose notes. I mean that was a big issue for us for a while, which was we were we were gathering all these notes, but we weren't being disciplined at putting them all on one spot. And so that's what we're really trying to work course, is that, okay, the next time this prospect calls in, I'm going to get I'm going to be able to see all these notes very quickly and act accordingly. And so that's why we use this APP called Dully, and there's there's a lot of there's a two other benefits in there too, but I think I just highlighted the main ones that we're seeing. If it's from so listeners out there check out duly, don't it? Do you have any other kind of hacks or tricks that you have your reps do to really kind of convince? I don't know that convinced, but it illustrate the value of your, you know, relatively destructive model. Is there? Is there something that you that maybe novel that you're that you're teaching your reps? Yeah, definitely. I mean I you know, I think there's a few things and I don't know if they're the most revolutionary ideas out there, but the most important thing is is that you are super connected to understanding, okay, who your active clients are today and how we support them. I think one of the things that strs or new SDRs, when they first come in or just super super what they... about the most. I got to win my first deal, I got to work my first call, and sometimes they overlook, okay, what are the what do I need to do? What do I need to do to do that? They just want to go, go, go, go, go, and so for us it's like we need to be able to enable them to access the key information that helps us win in the way that we win, which is telling stories that are client stories and categorizing those stories in a way in which relates back to, okay, what your three core value props, or or maybe your five core value props are, whatever they are. That needs to be a short list of value props, but you can always tie back to specific scenarios and in very easily searchable way, so that okay, Hey, this client just talked about this issue that I know we can support. I just got to quickly find which client we currently support today that's handling that. We help handle that issue. So does that? Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. And how do you enable your ups to do that very quickly as we like. They're on a call, they know they have they have that social proof somewhere. Yeah, you know. How do they find that and use it right away? Yeah, so we have a dog. I mean it's a dog. It's actually now evolving in to more of a spreadsheet where you can start categorizing the type of conversation station of the type of client that you're talking to. So we have two major segments here flex, once enterprise, once digital native. So, for example, I'm talking to a digital native company that is concerned about operational performance, I can filter that out in the spreadsheet. That will show clients that all the clients that bought flex for that exact reason or for that priority reason, and then the realized benefits as a result of that and attached to that client. So it's really just organizing your client evidence program and a way, in a way, in one place and constantly maintaining that. And so that's that's one way that we that we really help them, that they can quickly access. Sobo. I'll pause there and see if you have any other questions around that. You know that that's created. there. Are there any other ways that you. You do that. So we have the other thing we do, and I don't know if I mentioned it in this in this earlier in this call, but we have a note taking templet that we actually run through duly where we go through and we talked about can't. So most companies talk about bands, which is budget, authority needs and timeline. With us, with flex, there's always a budget for what we're doing. Right. So what we've adjusted that to is the cost of the alternative versus flex. So that's what's what we have to see. Everything else remains the same. Authority needs, timeline. So this note taking temple basically says, okay, Hey, here are the strategic parts of information that we need to know before this deal gets qualified, and here are the tactical buckets that you need to know in order for this deal to be qualified. You cannot pass this deal to the account executive without all these fields complete. And so that's we kind of like submit cards with qualification feels completed in order to eliminate any unpredictability or uncertainty on whether or not you had a good call or not. Like do you know in the prospect size whether or not you know what what they prioritize in our value props, right. So, like we talked about that in are note taking temple. Like can you prioritize, in the eyes of the prospect, the value props of flex and then you have all the you know, and and the other thing. I mean, you can go down each list right with authority. It's like, okay, this prospect is on the call to do this. Is this this primary role or is this something that it is, you know, is it is a secondary role? As the other key stakeholders that care about this, or what do they care about? Right?...

I mean there's just as you can go on and on and on about what questions you need to ask, but unless you kind of organize them in a way that makes sense for your reps and drive consistency throughout the process, it's really hard to scale. And so that's kind of the whole purpose of like what we call this quote unquote, note taking template. Yeah, I mean, and it sets your your account executive up support success. Right. You have all the information that they need to to push the deal along. So I think that's that's fantastic. And then everyone listening should be implementing something like this, whether that's you know, a card system not taking system or or, in this episode, turned out to be a pitchure duly. So everyone check out duly. Don't if there was a quick takeaway for our listeners, maybe they zoned out the entire time. What would that be? Oh Gosh. So my we can just talk about the three key success on a call. So because we've been talking a lot about calls. But it's really asking the right questions, telling the right story, that it relates back to an active client. And the third one is closing and setting expectations right, getting that feedback from the client. Hey, what are your key takeaways from the call to day right, like, why are you interested in flex, or why were you interested in flex when you first join this call, and what are you interested in flex to continue the conversation? Just level setting on those expectations is super, super important. At the end of the day, it's all about eliminating on certainty and saving time for us as we try to grow, you know, at a really quick clip. Right. So that's that's really the most those the key takeaways for us as far as calls. I of that question the you know, how did you feel coming into call? What were you thinking and then how do you feel about flex now? I think that's that's really good because that that will show that kind of gap and and the journey that has happened on that call. So I think that's that's fantastic. Dominic, if if people wanted to get ahold of you learn more about flex, how can they do that? Probably Linkedin. I could give you my cell phone number, but I don't know, I don't know. Don't do that. Yeah, no, no, it's good. You can email flex general line at any time and it's going to end up falling in my lap anyway because we st our team handles most of the in bounding crease. So yeah, Blake dead and just hitting US up directly. Have flexcom. Awesome. Thank you so much for me on the show. When to thank our listeners for tuning in once again. GO CHECK OUT FLEX, go check out duly, apparently, and we will see you next time on the sales engagement podcast. Thank you. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon. To get the most out of your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach die I oh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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