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Ep. 30 | TSIA's Steve Frost on Sales, Services and Customer Success in XaaS World

A Podcast by Sarah E. Brown and Bill Cushard on Jan 11, 2017 8:07:17 AM

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Steve Frost of TSIA on Helping Sells Radio Sales, Services, and Customer Success in an XaaS World

Steve Frost

VP of Research, Expand Selling
Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA)

Throughout his career, Steve Frost has helped companies like Google and Netscape define their go-to-market strategy and business development tactics. Steve is dedicated to helping technology organizations implement new sales approaches that are helpful to customers as well as optimizing services touch points to drive new leads, increase revenue, and provide better customer outcomes. Steve joins us on Helping Sells Radio to dissect how to sell more software by fostering a helpful approach and aligning sales and Customer Success.

Who are the most effective sales people?

We started our conversation with Steve by discussing what makes a sales person effective in an X-as-a-Service world. When everything is "as-a-service" even sales people need to be more service-oriented. This does not mean sales people should not be primarily focused on bringing in new business, but it does mean that customers expect service providers to help them solve business problems. Sales people should therefore be more helpful with prospects. 

The most effective sales people these days building trust and credibility by engaging in activities that professional services people do every day to help customers. 

Here is a link to Steve's blog post: How to Increase Sales by Helping Customers.

What sales people can learn from professional services about relationship equity

Professional services people earn customer trust because they are onsite with customers, helping them solve problems and achieve outcomes with technology. Customers are thankful for this and reward professional services consultants with what Steve calls "relationship equity." With this relationship equity built up, professional services people can go back to customers and sell customers on more services without upsetting customers. Whereas when a sales person calls on customers to upsell or sell additional services, there isn't the same relationship equity and customers can put up defenses. 

Not that Steve would advocate turning professional services people into sales people or sales people into professional services people, but there is something sales can learn from consultants about building trust. And that main lesson is to be helpful. To help customers solve problems or otherwise achieve desired outcomes. 


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How can sales people build relationship equity?

Steve made a fascinating statement about how sales people can build this relationship equity. He suggests that sales people bond with customers around their business problems. Sales people might not be experts at solving customer problems like professional services people are, but through their experience working with prospects, sales people do see patterns that are repeated over and over again. Customers have many similarities with what they are trying to achieve and what problems they are trying to solve, and sales people can use this information in the aggregate to acknowledge and empathize with prospects and share they you have seen this before with other customers and explain, "This is how others have solved similar problems."

There is an element of empathy and in challenging prospects to think of problems in new ways that sales people can leverage. This bonding around customer problems is a great way to build relationship equity.

Not that it will be easy to shift how sales people sell. After all, most technical sales training is very product focused and focused on persuading prospects to buy that product. Steve talks with us about how sales training needs to evolve to be more about helping customers achieve business outcomes.

Should Advertising Be Helpful?

In all of our talk about helping sells, we have not spent much time on the show about helpful advertising, until now. Steve talked to us about his time at Google, he was an early employee and was there during the time Google was beginning to monetize search. Steve talks about how Google wanted ads to be helpful, which seams counter-intuitive, but it makes sense. When people search for something on Google, they are looking for answers or for something to help them solve some type of problem. Google asked, "What is we only showed ads related to what people were searching for?" I guess you could say they was a turning point at Google. And the lesson is that the more helpful companies can be with customers, the more business they can generate. 

We talked about a lot of other things in this show, and I suggest you listen to the entire episode. Those were the highlights. 

Post Show Discussion about Ben Horowitz

Don't forget to listen to the post-show (the part of the show after the closing music. We have included a short discussion with Steven about his experience working with Ben Horowitz, cofounder and general partner of Andreesen Horowitz and author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things. It is a bonus discussion about being a student of management, quoting rap music, and Ben's Law of Crappy People.

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Thanks for listening to the show.

Topics: Sales

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