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This week’s episode is entitled “How to Win (and Keep Winning) Bigger Deals” and our guest is Lisa Magnuson, Founder of Top Line Sales and the author of The TOP Sales Leader Playbook: How to Win 5X Deals.
I ask Lisa in 2020, what should sales professionals be thinking about and prioritizing as they stare at the quarter in the year ahead of them?
She shared one of the things that they absolutely are thinking about is that pipeline, but most importantly inside that pipeline, they’re thinking about what are their biggest opportunities. Because the smart sellers know that if they identify a couple of really big accounts… I call them 5X accounts, worth about five times their average deal… if they identify a couple of those and really work them, diligently work them, they will get those in 2020 and it will be a game changer for their year.
Listen in or read the entire conversation below:
Matt: Thank you so much for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We’re so pleased that you’re joining us. For those of you joining us live on the Funnel Media Radio Network, yes, we will talk about sales and marketing here in a second. For those of you joining us on the podcast, thank you again so much for joining us. Our numbers continue to climb in listenership. So humbled and excited to see those numbers. I think I mentioned in our last episode our 2019 listenership exceeded listenership from the first three years combined, so really excited to see the continued growth in our listeners. If you want to check out some of those past episodes, every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio is always available past, present and future at salespipelineradio.com. Every week we’re featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing.
Today is absolutely no different. Joining us from outside of Portland, Oregon, the author of the new book Top Sales Leader Playbook, How to Win 5X Deals Repeatedly and as someone who has spent time in Southern California, we can talk about that as well, Lisa Magnuson. Lisa, thanks for joining us today.
Lisa Magnuson: Thank you, Matt. I can tell you that snow plow is not here in Portland.
Matt: Do we share it with a third city? Have we been lied to this whole time?
Lisa Magnuson: It’s stuck in between because we’re trying to get to Maui to get onto some of those big waves you’re talking about.
Matt: Well, Maui sounds a lot better than what we’ve had this week, regardless of whether you’ve got to get out there. Our kids were off school yesterday and today everything’s pretty much thawed out, but the street in front of our house was just a sheet of ice. In a lot of markets they have sand, they try to make stuff passible, but here we just don’t have that.
Lisa Magnuson: No, we don’t.
Matt: Well, let’s talk a little bit about selling it. I still think of it as the beginning of 2020. I know we’re here into the second full week of Q1 of January of 2020. If I see someone or talk to someone for the first time, I figure I can still say happy new year if it’s the first time I’ve talked to them or if it’s before the Super Bowl. One of those two things has happened, but it’s especially an exciting and terrifying time for people that are selling. I mean, I think no matter what you did last month, last quarter, everyone starts at zero again. So, we’re here at the beginning of 2020, what should sales professionals be thinking about and prioritizing as they stare at the quarter in the year ahead of them?
Lisa Magnuson: Matt, one of the things that they absolutely are thinking about is that pipeline, but most importantly inside that pipeline, they’re thinking about what are their biggest opportunities. Because the smart sellers know that if they identify a couple of really big accounts, I call them 5X accounts, worth about five times their average deal, if they identify a couple of those and really work them, diligently work them, they will get those in 2020 and it will be a game changer for their year.
Matt: Now your book, Top Sales Leader Playbook, really talks about these 5X deals. One of many reasons I was excited to have you on the show is that element of sales pipeline building, where a lot of people think about, “Okay, I’ve got X amount of dollars in the pipeline. I’ve got X number of deals in the pipeline.” As I’m reading through your book, it just struck me as this seems fundamental, but something that not a lot of people think enough about is the deal size that represents not only your ability to hit your quota faster, but also make more money and be a lot closer to president’s club earlier in the year. Talk a little bit about the 5X and what, why that’s so important.
Lisa Magnuson: Well, 5X is just a general sort of rule of thumb, but it really I think kind of nails the much bigger than your average deal size and why it’s important is because you have to do things differently. You can’t do exactly same thing for a 5X deal and get that deal than you do for just your regular transactions, your average transaction size. If you’re going to have a couple of those whale deals, as my good friend and colleague Barbara Weaver Smith calls them, you got to do things differently. It’s going to take more time, and it’s going to be complex, and it’s going to be a little messy. But if you put your stake in the ground now, you can get those in 2020. Just with my experience in the field with my clients, the average is about nine months. We can have the start to the year be all the way through the first quarter when we’re thinking about those big deals.
Matt: Yeah. And there’s no question that the bigger the deal, the more complexity, the longer it takes to close, the more important those relationships are. Your last book, The Top Seller Advantage, talked a lot about the importance and then the strategies for building those long-term executive relationships. If you’re trying to get those deals, obviously the more time you’ve had to build those the better. But let’s say you just started a new job. Let’s say you were just assigned a new set of named accounts. You were handed a new territory or a new industry to work. So you yourself are really working from scratch. What can sellers do to accelerate some of that relationship building to sort of really build a foundation for those larger deals?
Lisa Magnuson: There’s a couple of things they can do. One is they can sort of be alert to the deals that are potentially bigger. They can ask a couple of extra questions early in the sales process, maybe even in the qualify stage where they ask about do you have other divisions with the product or service we’re talking about be replicable throughout your organization. They can ask a couple questions to sort of identify is this a bigger deal. And if it is a bigger deal, then they want to pull that account team together, their internal account team, because the account team has got to start from the very beginning. When that big opportunity, that 5X opportunity is spotted, the account team should get to work. They should get to work quickly and consistently so they can develop that deal and ultimately close that deal.
As you said, it involves lots of relationships and the number of relationships are just growing, and growing, and growing. Usually one of those relationships is an executive sponsor. You can’t just pick up the phone and call those people, “Oh sure. I have time on my calendar tomorrow.” That just doesn’t happen.
Lisa Magnuson: You’ve got to plan ahead and it’s hard work, but if you really did a good job of spotting and kind of qualifying, it’s every bit worth the work that needs to go into it.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Lisa Magnuson. She is with Top Line Sales and the author of the new book, The Top Sales Leader Playbook, How to Win 5X Deals Repeatedly. We’re talking about the importance of relationships in selling. My dad sold Caterpillar tractors for 35 years and he was a big relationship seller. He imparted that to me, directly and indirectly, the entire time I watched him work. It seems recently, even though the relationships are still critical, there’s a lot more focus on things like the challenger sale and challenging someone’s status quo and being memorable versus agreeable.
It seems like in some camps there’s a, well, relationships don’t matter as much anymore. Just make the case and challenge their status quo and you’ll be fine. But it seems like those two things could be symbiotic. How do you think about the relate difference between the relationship selling strategy and the challenger sale?
Lisa Magnuson: To me, the shorter answer is one size does not fit all when it comes to relationships. We all know that from our personal lives and our business lives, as we go out there prospecting and as we take care of our customers, including our biggest customers. The difference with really big deals is you’re going to be a little more purposeful about it and you’re going to be a little more systematic. When you identify that 5X deal, one of the things the account team is going to do is they’re going to map the relationship. They’re going to map the relationship that you have and the relationships that you need. Most account teams together can figure out what those are. What are those relationships that you don’t have today that you need? It might be an executive sponsor. It might be a stakeholder that you’ve never worked with before. It could be an internal champion. Maybe you don’t have that person that’s really on your side telling you what’s happening inside of the account, telling you about the political changes and shifts, what’s coming, how people are perceiving your product or service.
All of that the account team is going to really build that relationship map so that you don’t leave it to chance. In terms of how do you develop those relationships, some people will respond to sort of a challenge their thinking, bring ideas to the table, and whatnot. And some people are going to respond to sort of a different type of approach. But that’s one of the things when you map out the relationships that are needed, we should talk about that. What is the persona of this person and what is the best way for us to approach them? What is the best way for us to develop that relationship?
Matt: Good. Got to take a quick break here. I know we’ve got a lot more questions. I’ve got a lot more questions for Lisa, but we’ve got to take a break, pay some bills. We’ll be right back. We’re going to talk a little more about relationship building, thinking about the executive sponsor, decision-makers, the buying committee, as well as how marketing can support this process as well. But we’ll be right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: Okay. Just what we’re talking about here. Let’s get back to Matt and his guest. Can I ask one little quick question here?
Matt: Of course.
Paul: We had a show earlier today and somebody threw out a provocative statistic. I can’t tell you exactly what it was or where they got it. It was somebody like Forrester said something like, “In the next 10 years, 20 years, a third of sales not just toaster sales or product sales, but company sales, bigger sales are going to be without a human involved. They’re just going to order it.” Is that really a threat that’s coming? Will we ever just not need relationships? We’ll just need a good sales site here?
Matt: I’ve got some thoughts on that, but I’d love to get our guest, Lisa Magnuson, to answer that first. Lisa, what are your thoughts? I mean, we see this question come up. Is selling dead? Is the Amazon impact happening to everything including B2B? What are your thoughts on that?
Lisa Magnuson: Well, coming from a big deal perspective, I think it’s highly unlikely that the entire buying of something large is going to happen without a sales team. The sales team might look different. They might be comprised of more subject matter experts. Maybe that’s what will be more valued as we go forward, but I can’t believe there’s not going to be that account team involved with any sort of large transaction because there’s too much risk associated on both sides, on the company side, the provider side, and also the client side. Things that have to be worked through and discussed and addressed.
But having said that, very first time in my career, I was talking to one of my clients and they actually closed a million deal over the phone. Wasn’t without sales people, but there was no in-person meetings and that’s the first time I heard that and they shared that with me recently, so I thought that was interesting.
Matt: I think that’s right. I think there’s going to be examples of things where people either do a lot more of the research and consideration themselves, or there’s always going to be cases of people to decide to buy online. I think it’s ridiculous to buy a house sight unseen, but people do it.
Lisa Magnuson: They do.
Matt: And so I think there could be examples of that all over the place. I think as sellers, if we sit back and just wait for prospects to just do their thing, I think that that’s just a bad sales strategy yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our ability to sort of build those relationships, be a trusted expert, be someone that prospects know that they can come to for education without necessarily getting sold to every second, to help those prospects understand the cost of a problem they did or didn’t know themselves, and to be a subject matter expert in an area that your prospects by definition don’t know as well as you do is a huge advantage. I don’t think that that is going away and I think you’re right, Lisa. I think for those more complex sales, those bigger considered purchases, that’s going to be around for a while.
I wanted to get back to the relationship selling component we were talking about before. We’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Lisa Magnuson with Top Line Sales. She is also the author of numerous books, including the more recent Top Sales Leader Playbook, How to Win 5X Seals Repeatedly. There was a sales book that you’ve probably read as well. It’s called Selling to VITO and VITO is an acronym for very important top officer. There’s plenty of folks that say, “Hey, listen, just get to the senior guy and that’s how you’re going to get deal.” How do you think about that executive sponsor, that very important top officer, relative to the rest of this so to speak, buying committee, other people in the organization that are going to have some impact or have some vested interest in the problem being solved? What are the relationships that you should be building?
Lisa Magnuson: There’s usually a lot of relationships and you’ve got to identify those and work really hard, but when you’re talking about that C-suite sponsor, that senior leader sponsor, that is a critical relationship and when you’re talking big deals, almost always you need to have that person. If you don’t have that person, you could spend a lot of time and at the end you can get sorted. I certainly have seen that happen.
The difference I think today is, and my other book, the Top Seller Advantage, Powerful Strategies to Build Long-Term Executive Relationships, is about the difference. What is needed today is not a once and done approach to executives. I mean, how many times have you been part of an account team where all this work goes into getting an executive meeting and maybe two or three representatives of the company get to go and be part of that meeting and after they’re like, “That was a great meeting.”
Literally, I’ve never been part of one where that didn’t happen and it was great because you got to sit in front of that executive and sure the account executive’s going to follow up with a thank you and that kind of thing, but then nothing. The team doesn’t know how, they didn’t talk about, they don’t know how to cultivate that executive relationship over time. So, you flash forward a year or two and that account team comes back together because there’s another opportunity in the same account and they need to get that to that executive again and they got to start from scratch. The executive doesn’t remember that call that they thought were so great. It was just a meeting to them, one of thousands of meetings that they have.
But if the account team can really sort of cultivate that executive over time in an appropriate way, then they’re going to enjoy access to that executive. Now maybe that access is only once or twice a year. That’s okay. But now you’re going to really benefit from the vision, the understanding of the priorities of that executive. Maybe you need that executive to clear out some hurdles. Actually, I’m one of the sales experts on the BrightTALK Channel and that was the topic of my webinar yesterday was a how-to’s it relates to executive engagement over time.
Matt: Got just a few more minutes here with Lisa Magnuson. Couple more questions I want to ask you. We’re talking mostly about what sales professionals can do to really leverage relationships and to build that 5X pipeline, go after those bigger deals. What can marketing do to help? I think when it comes to lead generation, the research I’ve seen says that the larger the deal, the more likely that opportunity is created or sourced from sales, but it seems like marketing can still play a role to help create velocity and viscosity in this process as well. What are some of the best marketing strategies and tactics you’ve seen delivered in this context?
Lisa Magnuson: The very best companies, and I talk about this in my Sales Leader Playbook, are the ones that really understand if you want to have an engine that goes after these big deals, you have to set up a whole infrastructure. Part of that infrastructure is developing collaborative relationships inside your organization. One of the most important relationships and collaboration that you can develop is with marketing. On most of the account teams that I participate with on behalf of my clients have a marketing representative there. The reason why I say most important, is because there’s professional services, there’s inside sales, there’s all these other typical groups that are part of the account team but the marketing person that participates, that person brings a whole different perspective, an entire different perspective.
I remember a war room meeting that I was in just recently with a client going after a big opportunity and marketing was there and they were saying things like, “We did this analysis and that might be really valuable to the customer. We can customize it for the customer. You could bring that into your review with the customer.” Things like that, that really make a difference. Those kinds of suggestions always come from marketing. That’s how they think. They think differently. They think about the markets. They think about trends. They think about analysis. They think about campaigns and how they can apply to the client situation. Those are valuable ideas that customers want to hear about. You talk about the challenger approach, that’s really differentiating yourself if you’re the account executive and you’re bringing some of those kinds of ideas and expertise to your prospect, game changer. So, I’m a huge fan of marketing and having a marketing representation in those account war room meetings.
Matt: Love it. Well, unfortunately, as much as I’ve got a bunch of more questions, we could probably continue this forever. We’re going to run out of time here. I want to thank again our guest today, Lisa Magnuson, for joining us and for answering a bunch of quick questions. Lisa, real quick before we have to wrap up, what’s the best place for people to go to learn more about you and to get a copy of your book?
Lisa Magnuson: They can go to my website, www.toplinesales.com. They can click through to Amazon on all my books. They can get some free. They can get a pre-call planning tool, which is awesome for free. They can access some of my BrightTALK webinars, tons of stuff. I just redid my website last year, so it’s super current.
Matt: Awesome. Great. Well, thank you for that. We will put those links in the show notes. If you’d like to re-listen to this episode or share it with some of the other people in your team, including your counterparts in sales and marketing groups, you can find this up on salespipelineradio.com in a couple of days and we’ll have a transcript summary of this conversation with Lisa Magnuson up on heinzmarketing.com shortly. Thank you for my 25 minute break from shoveling snow and salting the sidewalk. I got to get back to work, but thank you.
On behalf of my great producer, Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel. I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing. If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.