The Return of Disruption to the Sales Development World

Published April 28, 2020

This has all happened before, and it will all happen again.

-J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I was in college in the 4 years leading up to the new millenia.  As we climbed our ladder,  our professors would often tell us “ you will enter the workplace during one of the most unprecedented economies in the history of the world. One where there just aren’t enough people to fill the demand of what we are setting out to accomplish.”

In the Spring of 1999, the message began to change. The energy of our Economics and Business courses were off. I could feel  something wasn’t right. I came back from a Summer abroad, and their messages began to change.

“You might need to compromise.”

“You’ll need to practice resilience.”

“You may need to take jobs you never would have otherwise.”

Sound familiar?

In February 1998, it would take 1hr and 45min to drive from San Mateo, CA to San Jose, CA at 8am PT. On October 1st, 2001, that same drive would take just 48minutes.

Why do I remember that? Probably because it was my defining moment and a drive I was very familiar with.

During college I worked for a communication construction company. Often I would pick up and deliver plans. Most of our Jobs were in San Jose while some of the best General Contractors we worked with had offices on The Peninsula (Silicon Geo Slang…sorry).

One moment, my phone is blowing up because because I am stuck on a freeway full of Out-of-State plates and the General Contractor appt is about to be blown; the next, I am getting pulled over for doing 85 in a 55 and I’m shocked because I just wasn’t used to an open freeway.

Right now, at 7:55am, I can see that same strip of freeway via a webcam is just as empty. Perhaps worse in moments.

What’s it going to take to get back to ‘normal’

The last time I was in this position, I was 20 something with a college degree and a girlfriend who had relocated with me so that I can attend college without being apart. When I graduated, I was automatically furloughed because I was part time and didn’t have any children or dependents. 

This time, it’s the opposite. I am married, 3 kids, and I was furloughed because I was middle management and didn’t touch any orders- thus I am a cost.

This is the Half Glass Moment

INSIGHT 1:  GET OVER IT.

It’s not personal, even when it is. It happens/ed. Take a moment to grieve, and then start working the problem. 

INSIGHT 2:  THE NEW NORMAL IS COKE CLASSIC.

The ‘new normal’ is just a rebranded experience that helps us cope. People who succeed in this moment will be the ones who not only realize this but also empathize with people who are coping via the rebrand.

INSIGHT 1 + INSIGHT 2 = SOMEONE’S ADVANTAGE OR DISADVANTAGE.

The momentum in the current economy, as well as the micro economies, has halved. It has not stopped. Right now, someone is taking advantage of this situation. Positively or negatively. This is the half glass moment- which half are you going to be on?

When I was hired at Siebel Systems in 2004, it was after a down-year in founding. What does that even mean? There were fewer companies founded in 2003 than in the 5 years previous. This means the economic momentum had slowed to an achingly slow pace.

I was told, “use the phone first, and then use it again. If it’s worth writing, it’s worth saying.”

We would send 1 email and make 3 dials for every email. Translated, everytime someone received an email, they were guaranteed to receive 3 calls over the next 8 business days.

We went from speaking with AEs struggling to recall the last SDR meeting they received to struggling to find a spot in their calendars for our SQL.

Right now, you are either talking yourself out of the market and talking your way in. Plain and simple.

Objections you are hearing that we’ve all heard before

Here’s a few objections we heard then that you are hearing now along with the ways that they have been solved over the last 20 years

The phone numbers don’t work. Companies have closed. Locations have closed. People have been moved to home office or consolidated to new locations. Half our numbers in the marketing database don’t work

Does this sound familiar? We heard the same thing during these economic crises:

2001 (dot.bomb + 9/11)

2007 (Mortgage/Financial Crisis)

2020 (Covid-19)

My questions I asked my teammates:

Do they still have a main number? (great, why don’t you call that?)

Do they still have a support number?  (great, why don’t you call that?)

Do they still have a general inquiry email address? (great, why dont you email that?)

Is Google still in business? (great, why don’t you ask her where to find your prospect?)

Is anyone else there we need to know? (great why don’t we call SOMEONE who still works there and just ask if they can help us connect with your prospect? LinkedIn says there are people still working there.)

If you don’t try, you can’t succeed. These are simple actions that have huge effects.

Everything is at a standstill – we’re putting all projects on hold.

I call bullshit. Do they have job reqs out there? Are they still in business? Do they still need deals? How many gaps do they have with the workforce that just exited?

At this moment, it is a giant math equation about optimizing fiscal efficiencies so that the company survives. 

I dont think it’s appropriate to be asking people to buy things when there is so much going on.

Disclaimer on this one: There is a huge difference between being insensitive and being available. Make sure you are acting on the latter.

As I responded, I looked for a source to cite, but couldn’t figure out where I first learned this. Feel free to share the source,

Somewhere along the line, I learned and then confirmed that in sales, just as in publishing, no one cares what you WANT, THINK, FEEL, or LOVE. And the way I was told was that no one f@#%ing cares. 

The point? Your job is to listen to learn. And by listening to learn, you show that you care. This moment with your customer? It’s about how THEY feel, what THEY love, and what THEY think they need to do. If someone asks you what you THINK, what they are really saying is:

What do you KNOW about what I THINK, FEEL, LOVE, or WANT?

No one has any budget for anything now. The sky fell and the world is collapsing.

How is this any different than yesterday? It only illustrates why BANT is NOT the best pre-sales technique out there. ANUM is a critical requirement right now. In fact, it’s a guarantee that NO ONE has a budget for anything unless they WANT, THINK, FEEL or LOVE to stop something extremely painful. No one wants a tourniquet until they need one. 

And in that moment, they would LOVE to have one. But do you LOVE applying them? No one does.

One company I’m aware of, furloughed 20% of their staff and then went to market looking for 3 solutions to optimize the loss of headcount. Right now, they have $300k in software solution investigations going on right now.  

Should you call or should I (your competitor)? Because one of us will get our unfair share of that $300k, and with the attitude, I’m betting on me.

No one is calling me back, responding to my emails.

This is a timed response. How much time do you spend doing versus the time you spend planning to do.

In Sales, you exist only in those two states. We spend 80% of our time planning to do, and 20% of our time doing. Sure it may not be exactly that, and mileage can vary, but the fact of the matter is, in these times you have to ask yourself: How am I making that 20% the most valuable, worthwhile, engaging, and pleasurable experience for my customer? 

In this world, more than ever before, we are exposing the sales people who have NOT been about the customer. Those who have NO IDEA how to be about them are stuck with this piece of self-doubt and cancerous defeatism.

If it’s about the customer, then you will spend more time on:

Valuable

Worthwhile

Engaging

Pleasurable

Experiences that will help them solve the problems of TODAY and TOMORROW.

Afterall, isn’t that what life’s problems are always about?

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