There was an interesting article in Venture Beat earlier this year about the rise of the Chief Revenue Officer, or CRO. Who is this new executive and why are there suddenly CROs everywhere in the tech industry? To save you a google search — a CRO can often be thought of as the top sales executive of a company — often owning the whole revenue process from lead to renewal.
One such CRO is legandary salesperson Gregg Carman at Kaleo Software, a platform for easily accessible and searchable knowledge sharing. Gregg has a nose for strategic accounts and spells his name with two “g”s at the end, instantly making him a badass. He was also a key character in a Harvard Business School case study — how cool is that?!
While he isn’t a psychologist by trade, Gregg’s simple behavioral tips will help you build trust and better relationships with your customers. (You can also download our awesome app, which helps you build rapport and make more money.) Despite his insane schedule, he was nice enough to sit down with me to talk through some of his tips for sales success.
We’ve Got Two Ears and One Mouth For A Reason
Oh what, another successful salesperson with some advice we’ve heard before? Color me shocked, but a lot of the top executives say the same things — one of them always being that you need to listen first. Listening to actual business problems is the one of the first keys to success. If you do speak, add value. It’s tough to build acumen with customers when everything is about driving them to the close.
Concentrating on listening instead of what to say next also helps you focus on business requirements. Gregg mentioned some specific highly regulated government agencies he has worked with in the past. Only by devoting most of his efforts to listening was he able to read between the lines of the very protracted and complicated negotiation and evaluation processes to win those deals.
Sell With Blatant Over Honesty
The ability to be completely and totally open is something that can go a long way. As salespeople, we often have to fight the perception that most buyers hate all of us — the sleazy guy with the Montblanc watch and pinstripe suit (Apologies if you work in sales and wear both of those to sales meetings but seriously — STOP). Gregg reasons that customers are actually willing to pay a premium when it comes with blatant honesty.
He’s found that blatant honesty builds mutual trust — and customers will pay a premium for that. In his experience, that mutual trust has even helped him close deals when selling a perceived inferior product or service. Gregg has even used this philosophy to land the impressive negative close. By simply being up front with a customer and telling them that their product was not the right fit, the customer started to rethink their process and they continued to pursue a deal with Gregg because of his blatant honesty.
Communicate In Your Customer’s Channels
Knowing your customer’s communication channels is an important key to building comfort and rapport. How do they like to communicate? Some people prefer to keep everything to email, while some like calls. Others may prefer to try and meet in person. Understand what makes your customers more comfortable and adjust accordingly.
Gregg went on to explain the advanced psychology behind this, which originated from Taibi Kahler (a former presidential communications adviser to Bill Clinton). The theory, known as Process Communication Model (PCM), at a high level states that people have certain ways that they prefer to communicate. Someone will be more likely to engage you in dialogue when they are engaged in ways they are comfortable with.
Gregg takes it to the next level, often matching brevity/verbosity and preferred text formatting (IE list vs written paragraph) with customers.
While this may seem a bit like Psych 101 to you, Gregg’s tips are not rooted in mind games but rather being up front and honest. It’s something I’ve seen a lot of when talking to successful sales reps, and hopefully will help you in your quest to be legendary!