Harris talks about the deals that can be the fastest to close—and the most frustrating—when you are...
Who Are They? (Episode 4)
Who are you selling to? Do you know? Think beyond name, job title, and company. Let’s explore customer development and considering that challenge is built right into Intro CRM.
⚠️ Please note: This is an old episode of the Pipeline Meeting podcast. In August 2022, the show relaunched in a new format. For the most recent episodes, please visit the podcast page.
In this episode, we explore the question of who are you selling to?
Building on who you are—as we explored in our last episode—it also matters who they are. Who is on the other side of the table? That can affect whether or not a deal is viable from the get-go. There are red herrings, or false leads that may present as quality leads but that don’t materialize. We explore an example of that.
We also begin to explore the concept of customer development. And the differences in needs for a needs a CRM for a single person business; perhaps a solopreneur, or someone with dreams to hire more people. Customer development is what happens in the early days. It’s how you discover repeatability.
Once you have repeatability, you’re ready to lock in the sales process and scale the sales organization. What does it look like to use a tool that’s built to support that use case, and how are we thinking about that in Intro CRM?
Harris outlines re-positioning of OSHdata, see the new OSHdata website here.
Learn more about EmailOctopus and support Intro CRM by using this referral link.
Pipeline Meeting is a sales podcast for founders and sales leaders. If you are looking for actionable steps to close high ticket deals, you’re in the right place. Tune in for help with things like cold outreach and qualifying inbound leads. We regularly feature guests and experts to take our business to the next level. Pipeline Meeting is hosted by Harris Kenny, the founder of Intro, a company that provides sales as a service.
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If you feel alone managing your business’ sales pipeline. Welcome. Consider this your invitation to join me, Harris Kenny, for a regular sales pipeline meeting, we’ll discuss finding new business and pricing, cashflow, things like getting ghosted, winning proposals, new technology, and a lot more brought to you by intro CRM.
Harris Kenny: (00:40)
The theme for today’s episode is who are they? Who are your customers? I want to share with you an example of a red herring, a false lead that has come up time and time again for a client of mine. And then I want to jump into what customer development is and how I’m building it into intro CRM. So false leads, who are they? Who are you selling to? You need to understand who’s on the other side, who is it that you’re selling to exactly? Their job title, the role within the company. Do they even work for the company? Do they work outside of the company?
The Wrong Who
Harris Kenny: (01:20)
I’m working with a client that makes a B2B product. It’s pretty technical sale. It’s a pretty niche market. It’s so niche that, there are big companies who will hire other people to solve this type of problem for them. It’s a testing problem. So there’s a a middleman, a middle player in between the actual person who has the problem and someone in the middle, a consultant, a solutions provider; their own team has not been able to solve the problem. And so they go out searching and they end up finding my client. So I’m going to put some names on this just to make it a little bit less abstract. Okay. You’ve got a company let’s just say that makes computers. And they are working on making those computers available through public locations. And they work with another firm, a service provider who helps deploy those computers that are made available in different stores and make sure that they’re working and things like that.
Harris Kenny: (02:25)
The actual customer is the computer company, but the person who reached out is the service provider. And they oftentimes will say, “Hey, I’m reaching out on behalf of this computer company,” and they’ll explain the problem. And it takes a lot of peeling away until you figure out… “Hey, this person, isn’t actually with the computer company, they’re with a consultancy. Who’s trying to solve the problem for them.” And working with this client. Now, for some time, I can tell you that they have had deals that come up like this every three to six months for years; and they never pan out. Literally these deals never close. It’s always someone who’s trying to find a solution, but who doesn’t have decision making power. They ultimately just do not have the ability to make it happen. Whereas the client has sold to companies like the computer company themselves quite a few times. I mean, they’ve got an incredible list of clients that they’ve sold to over the years, technology companies, who I guarantee you, you know, the names of.
Harris Kenny: (03:38)
You have to ask yourself, who are they? Who are you selling to? And are they the person who can buy the product? It’s really easy to get pulled down false roads, but the sooner you can identify these patterns of the types of people you do or don’t want to sell to the more time that you’re going to save yourself.
Red Flags in My Business
Harris Kenny: (03:55)
Another version of this might be someone that comes in with a very strong sense of urgency in my own business. That can be a red flag. I help people grow. I do sales consulting. We work on deals together. Sometimes if things are really, really tight and people are just desperate for any kind of solution, I might not be able to help them as fast as they need help. So it doesn’t mean I don’t want to work with them, but it does mean that there might be some challenges in that project, in that environment, their expectations just might be different than what I’m able to deliver on. So think about that. Who is it that you’re selling to, their job title, maybe their geography, the language they speak, the types of problems they have just, that is a very, very important thing. And if you can get a better sense of that faster, you can save yourself a lot of time.
Harris Kenny: (04:48)
I’ve got a project within my own pipeline here that I’ve been working on, launched earlier this year called OSHdata, OSHdata.com. And we weren’t sure, I initially launched it with a friend who’s since stepped away. We weren’t sure who was going to want this thing. And so we cast a pretty wide net. It was a market research product on open source hardware. And because I’ve worked in open hardware since 2014 and a number of my clients are open hardware companies—not all of them—but a number of them are. And while there were a number of different people interested, the type of person who was interested that who I could really help was business owners. And so I’ve been able to ultimately find opportunities and projects working with a few companies that do certify their hardware as open.
Harris Kenny: (05:37)
But it wasn’t the researchers, it wasn’t even individual engineers or even other media outlets, even though all of those people in theory were interested in open hardware. It was companies that were small enough, where there is a founder of CEO is still involved in the process and really deliberately deciding to make an open hardware product. So I’m repositioning that project. I just relaunched the website, new design, new colors, and really focused the content to communicate specifically to that audience because we didn’t know who was going to want it when we got started. And honestly spent—I think, wasted—some time talking to the wrong people. But some time has passed, I’ve got a better sense of it. And I think that with this new clarity, we’ll be able to do more. I’ll be able to do more with OSHdata moving forward.
A CRM for Customer Development
Harris Kenny: (06:26)
So think about that. And, and really when we talk about who is your customer? Why are they buying from you? What are they buying? All of this fits within a broad area of sales called customer development and customer development is about understanding who your customers are with an end goal of repeatability. You want to be able to find similar types of customers who you know you can help. And perhaps you branch off of that in time to find people who are similar, but a little bit different. And when I say types of customers, I mean, people who have the same types of problems, who have the same motivations, who you can build a business on reliably. You can’t just count on one-offs in order to keep paying the bills. You can’t just count on one-offs to stay in business, right? I mean, you have to have repeatability.
Harris Kenny: (07:23)
And this is the first feature I really want to specifically talk about in this podcast that I’m building into intro CRM. So it’s going to have a module specifically for customer development, where you can log where you are in the process of developing who your opportunities are, why they’re talking to you, what they want, but also introducing yourself to them, who you are, why you’re in business and what you can offer them. Traditional CRMs, present this as a left to right, you know, vertical columns where you slide deals from left to right. I believe especially early on that this is a two-axis relationship. You’re getting to know them. They’re getting to know you. And that process of getting to know each other is running in parallel to your actual sales process, which is if they’re, you know, a lead that’s still in discovery, you’re getting a proposal ready. Maybe the deal is on hold for a variety of reasons.
Selecting a CRM for One Person
Harris Kenny: (08:26)
Most CRMs are built for sales teams that have already figured out who their customers are. And they plug a salesperson in to execute on that sales process. Many times a founder knows it well enough, and they will try to hire a sales person to figure that out. And as they’re figuring out their sales process, as they’re figuring out their customer development, they’ll sort of shoehorn it into the CRM and then maybe find that the CRM isn’t the right fit for them. Maybe it’s too inbound focused. And they’re finding that they’re really able to get deals through referrals or through networking, or vice versa. Maybe it’s a very sales heavy focused tool, but in practice, the new leads are coming via inbound.
Harris Kenny: (09:16)
So this early stage of your business is about figuring out who are your customers and, and pairing that with who you are, why are they talking to you? And why are you talking to them? Why did you get into this thing in the first place? And then finally, once you’re aligned on that, and you’ve got a sense of that, the what, the actual thing that you’re delivering, you can piece that together. So this is similar to Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why,” very similar, very inspired by it. I’m a big fan of his work. If you’re not familiar, look it up. I can put it in the show notes, but it’s a little bit different. It’s procedurally different just because when you start talking to someone, you inevitably start with who, who are they? Right? So I’m tailoring this for a CRM context, but I think the core ideas are there.
Using EmailOctopus for Marketing
Harris Kenny: (10:07)
I’m going to be sharing a lot more about this, Intro CRM is going into alpha testing this month… So I’m going to be sharing a lot more about this. Follow Intro CRM on Twitter. If you go to the website, you can subscribe to the newsletter where we’ll be sending more about that. And last note on this, I’m really excited to share that we switched over to EmailOctopus. It’s a cool small independent company, who I think is great on privacy and they have a very simple newsletter software, so it’s very easy for me to send out email updates through EmailOctopus. And in case you’re looking to use a email marketing tool, check it out. I’ve got a referral link on IntroCRM.com. And let me know if you have questions about that, feel free to tag me on Twitter @HarrisKenny.
Thanks for listening to Pipeline Meeting. The theme music is by Neighborhood Vandal and is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution—or CC BY—license. To learn more, read the show notes, and continue the conversation, visit IntroCRM.com.