52: Get Inside Your Customer’s Why with Lynn Whitbeck

Lynn Whitbeck is the President and CEO of Future Forward Sales, a specialist B2B sales consulting business focusing on the process, methods, and psychology of sales development. We talk about the customer journey map, emotions during the sales process, and the ever-evolving relationship between sales and marketing. 

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Get Inside Your Customer’s Why with Lynn Whitbeck

Our guest is Lynn Whitbeck, the President and CEO of Future Forward Sales, a specialist B2B sales consulting business focusing on the process, methods, and psychology of sales development. She is also the host of the Future Forward sales podcast. So without further ado, welcome to the show, Lynn.

Steve, thank you so much. I am really excited to be here. This is going to be wonderful.

Oh, yeah. It already is. So Lynn, please tell me a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey. How did you get here? What’s been your road today?

Well, let’s just sort of pack that in. I’m going to start with my first experience of being an entrepreneur, and that was when I was a Girl Scout, and it was cookie time. And I wanted this really special cookie badge that you could only get if you sold this, you know, just big amount of cookies, right? And so I just got into doing the hustle to sell those cookies. I sort of went through this whole learning curve for sales.

I recruited my friend to help, and she was really shy and reserved, but she went with me and she was handing out the cookies and I was selling them. We did. We did it. We got this exclusive cookie badge. In fact, we were the only two girls in our whole district who got that cookie badge. I guess you can just say that my love of entrepreneurship was born when I was a Girl Scout. It took me a while to figure that out, but when I was in sales, I was an entrepreneur, always doing.

It was all about my value, my core value set, as to be of help and to be service to others. That was just a natural career flow. It led me into leadership positions. Here I am now today and I get to have the pleasure and the honor and privilege to train people on how to sell their products and services with incredible success.

I really like when you said to me earlier, you were talking and you said to me that sales really leadership. I never framed it this way, but actually, I mean, it is completely true because you sell something because you believe it’s good for the other person, and you are helping them make a decision, you are channeling their interest and their desire into your product. I do believe this is true. What is your interpretation of this?

Everything you need to know about being a great leader, you learn in sales because sales is about learning to flex to the other person’s style. It’s about asking the right questions so you can understand what they want, need, or lack, you know, how it’s going to benefit them so they can, because ultimately, you know, it’s all about so they can, so they can do what, right? And that’s what’s so incredible about sales. And even in everyday life, think about you negotiate all day long at work and at home, just figuring out what you’re going to watch on Netflix with the family, right? So, sale gives you all of these core power.

Yeah, well, you just proved it that my wife is a better salesperson than I am. It’s the only choice that she wants on Netflix.

You just need to hone your negotiation skills.

I guess so, I’ve been honing it for 10 years, but no, I will. So, I’m going to ask you about your business. I’m really excited to understand a little bit more how you build a sales organization. But before we go there, I’d like to ask you another question, which is about management blueprints, which is the title of this podcast. And I’m always looking for some gold nuggets from people who build successful businesses. So management blueprints are really cookie cutter methods to implement management concepts in your business. If you don’t have the money to hire an MBA, you can buy a book for 10 bucks and you implement this concept. And I was wondering that, you know, whether you used any of the major management blueprints, like scaling up and emits and traction and a great game of business and others, or any other business frameworks that came up in your self-education that you used.

Management blueprints are really cookie-cutter methods to implement management concepts in your business. Share on X

Yeah, so for us, for our program, one of the core frameworks and processes that we use is the SAMI customer journey mapping. And that’s really where we start our customers because it’s really important, and SAMI is an acronym, but it’s really important that you know what your customer journey looks like from their perspective, from the customer’s perspective. And then you map that all out. And it’s about looking at your current processes, the systems, all the interrelated activities, and the sales journey.

Especially when you are selling a B2B relationship sales, and these are either big ticket items, they’re program sales, they could be long-term. I mean, they’re always based on relationship, long-term relationship sales. That’s my area. And the mapping process really allows you to understand that that starting point for the customer, and obviously there’s many different starting points because they could come in on your website, there could be a warm referral, they could see a post on LinkedIn and decide to sign up for a webinar and a group, whatever it happens to be.

But it’s really about then looking at the different ways that they go through and what can be improved, what’s, where’s the critical gap, where’s a pain point, what are the influences so that you can know what you have. Because if you don’t know where you’re at, it’s pretty hard to create a strategy. We got to know where we’re at, and then we can start to really apply everything that we do so that we can get that critical business requirement in place and build a strategy that’s going to be effective.

We got to know where we're at, and then we can start to really apply everything that we do so that we can get that critical business requirement in place and build a strategy that's going to be effective. Share on X

Okay. So you basically, you use your questions to understand where the customer is on their journey, and you have to basically adapt to their journey so that you can serve them and figure out where they are, and then you can build your strategy to get from where they are, to where you want them to be, right?

Yes. In a nutshell, yeah.

Maybe it’s not the best nut, as long as it’s not a coconut shell., so you say SAMI, so I figure you said systems, you said activities. So, what are the two other letters in the SAMI acronym? 

Yes. S is actually for strands, because we look at three different lanes that really are completely intertwined, and that’s the sales lane, the customer lane, and the relationship lane. And so those are the phases that the customer goes through on their journey. So the first one is actually for strands. And the second one is activities. The third one is methodologies. And so these are all the different – so those are like your pain points. They are the critical gaps, opportunities that you find.

So there’s all those things. And then the last of the I is influences. And those are things that there’s so many different ways that your business has influences. So one could be reputation. So, you know, if you get, if you’re more of a B2B, a B2C world, you know, a bad review on Yelp or a bad review on Amazon or Google, you know, those types of things. If you are in a B2B world, it’s still those can happen. You know, you’re at an event, as we’re getting back to those, oh, ow.

And you’re getting back to those events and your trade show, a conference, and one buyer asks another buyer, hey, have you ever heard of, you know, and, or have you worked with, and they go, well, and all of a sudden it’s just like, that was just an immediately kill. That was like somebody flipped the kill switch. So that reputation is one of those influences and your operations can be a big part of that if you’re not delivering on time or not delivering a quality product or you have other types of issues within that, that’s going to negatively impact your reputation and that’s an influence. Other influences could be, anyway, I’m going on about that, but you get the picture.

No, no, definitely very interesting. So strands, so you have the customer, the sales and the relationship, and then activities. So what could be activities?

Well, activities are so many different things. You could be where they’re connecting, they’re reading an email, they could be attending a webinar, they could be having a presentation. On your part, you could be doing some outreach or you’re doing follow up, or you’re in the stage of negotiation and closing. It could be where you’re doing a Q2BR, quarterly business review, when you’re in that nurturing stage of the relationship where you want to essentially there, you want to transition them to becoming a champion. So they’re providing you with warm referrals.

And then the methodologies, you mentioned gaps, pains, opportunities. So how does that work? So methodologies, I don’t really understand how these words play with the concept.

So, you know, what the idea was behind that is that, you know, it was just sort of a – it’s like all the different things that go into that customer experience. So, identifying your pain points, it’s a way that when you look at, you know, there’s different areas where a customer can be experiencing pain. And sometimes it creates that moment where they stop working with you or they just give up or they’re just, you know, it’s like this is not worth it, right? And so, and then that’s also where there can be critical gaps.

So there could also be internal gaps, like a lead comes in through a lead magnet or someone in his hands a webinar, but that’s never passed over to sales. I mean, that’s like a gap in your systems. So how is that progressing? So there’s a lot of different ways that you can look at, what is going on in that little routine? So it’s sort of like almost a subset. Then how do we fix that? That’s why we put it in this category called methodologies.

That’s interesting. Basically, it sounds like your process is designed to find the frictions that can derail the process. If you remove the frictions, then the customer on their journey are going to have a smooth ride, end up as being a buyer, is the idea?

Yeah. Well, and of course, there’s also opportunities. One of the key things that many customers, they don’t really invest the time in to really think like the customer and understand what the customer’s perspective is. That’s part of this customer journey mapping, is that we’re really trying to get inside the mind of one of your buyer personas. So we choose one, the most likely sort of buyer persona that we build, and then we walk through that because most customers have many different types of buying personas.

Part of customer journey mapping, is that we're really trying to get inside the mind of one of your buyer personas. Share on X

But we start with the most likely, and then this is also additional work that they can do to map out their other buying personas and really identify for their ideal client avatars, this whole journey process. But yes, the goal is to make it an easier process, a more natural process for the customer so that it’s easy for them to transition through those four core sales steps from being a lead, to being, you know, getting, you know, really intrigued and taking meetings, going through the presentations, going through negotiation and closing, and then becoming a customer and going through the implementation, the delivery, whatever happens for your product or service.

And what is the emotion that is driving that buyer? So they are in this journey, they are looking to improve their sales, for example, and they are looking for people who might be able to help them. What is the emotion? What are they driven by? Is it curiosity? Is it something else? What is the mindset? And maybe there are different mindsets for different people and different emotions, but are you also looking at the emotional journey or is it more a logical journey that you know, 

No, actually connecting with people’s emotions is so important when people have emotions that helps them create a memory. And, they may not exactly remember. I mean Maya Angelou put it the best, you know you they may not remember what you did or said, but you they remember how you made them feel and so absolutely. Absolutely, part of the psychology of sales is really getting in tune with those emotions and motivations.

Connecting with people's emotions is so important. When people have emotions, that helps them create a memory. Share on X

And of course, buyers have different types of motivations and they change their emotions and their motivations and their customer why changes through the journey. So in the early part of the journey, when they’re thinking about who they are, I have, they have a problem. Um, they’re looking for, so maybe they’re doing a web search and they come across your company because they’re looking for a specific solution and if, how is it going to help them?

So they’re sort of thinking at this and that, so they can, you know, in our case, so they can improve their sales output that have their, the close rate, the value of the sales, the length of the cycle so that they’re short in that cycle, all those things. So they’re looking for, and things are constantly changing and they’ve noticed that they’re having a drop off, whatever it happens to be. So they’re looking for that. But as they’re going through that process, their customer wide does shift because certainly they’re also looking early on is to, is this the right product or service for me.

And later on, they’ve already determined that by the time you’re getting into a presentation stage and you’re really going through moving into closing, at that point, they’ve already determined that you’re a qualified supplier. And so it’s their customer Y is changing. So now it’s about like, well, how are they going to help support us? How are they going to implement this? You know, can, you know, all these different things. And so that is really something you have to pay attention to as well.

Buyers have different types of motivations, and they change their emotions and their motivations through the journey. Share on X

Okay. That’s really interesting. So tell me a little bit about how sales is shifting. And this is maybe just my perception, but what I believe I’m seeing is that sales is kind of giving way to more marketing and sales is becoming more about creating content so that you attract people. And the actual conversion, as you say, it’s all about the buyer’s journey. So the buyer will have their own ideas, their own research, their own priorities, and they are basically checking out who are the people out there who can solve their problems. And they will just go with the person who most resonates with them, whether they are the expert or whether they like their personality. So is it about a shift from sales to marketing, or is it just still sales, but it’s a different type of sales? So help me understand that.

Okay. Well, you know, personally, I think sales and marketing always have to be in lockstep and working really effectively together. And for our sales strategy program, we want to make sure that the marketing team is heavily represented in the training and in through the entire development process. But with that said, you know, marketing is there to do a number of different things. I mean, they play a big role in doing some research and really under, you know, drive those leads into the organization.

But sales, especially in B2B relationship sales, as a sales that’s where I lived in my sales career, closing multi-million dollar deals. It was really… one thing I did was continually asking for referrals. I also continued to stay very closely aligned and tied to the executives within the organization and the decision makers and letting them know how things were progressing. And that’s why I use the QBRs, the quarterly business reviews, as a key tool because it also helped protect those clients and it gave me the opportunity to find out about things that were changing in their business and that I could get in on the ground floor and create a pilot program so they could, you know, proof of concept.

And once I had done that, it was automatic that I got the business, right? Or I was really heavily leveraged to get the business if they went through an RFP process, et cetera. So there’s a lot of things that you can do, you know, even as a really high-level performing professional salesperson to keep driving additional revenue opportunities.

But- That’s the farming, that’s the farming. So I agree when you already have a relationship and you are upselling with customer and you can use the relationship leverage it and so on. But what if you are still hunting? So in terms of the hunting, is there more of a shift in hunting because you have to be at that trust, reputation, people are not taking calls anymore. So how has the hunting scene changed?

Yeah, so I think the key thing is really being smart about that because there are so much noise out there and breaking through that noise and you can’t do everything. So you have to pick, you know, one to three core activities that, you know, that’s one of the things about doing the customer mapping is that you’ll actually see where you’re getting, you know, the leads. And there’s a different point of quantity versus quality. Where are you getting the leads that really fit your ideal client avatar?

Because they’re the ones that are going to convert to customers or more likely to convert to customers. And making sure that you’ve created that pathway. So even the connections that you make that they aren’t an ideal client avatar, they may become one in time or they could know somebody who is, right? So you want to maintain those relationships, but they go into a different pathway. And so it is important that you look at that. And there’s so many different things, and every business is different for what you’re looking to do.

Doing customer mapping helps you see where you're getting leads and distinguish between quantity and quality. Focus on leads that fit your ideal client avatar, as they are more likely to convert to customers. Share on X

But one thing is that when you look at what you already are doing, what’s working really well, what’s not working well. And no matter what, you need to frame it in what’s going on in the customer’s world. You have to pivot to their perspective. If you’re not speaking to them and to what they want, need, or lack that benefits them by so they can, if you’re not into that customer why, you’re going to be missing right off the bat.

You’re just throwing it against the wall and you’re just seeing if it can stick. So from a strategic level, that’s where you have to start from. And then you can decide which is the most effective method for your product or service that lends itself well, so that you can start putting that in place and deliver just lots of value, but while making sure that they know that you have more that you can offer as a paid client.

So how do I know what the real need is? At the outset, is it about research? Is it about asking questions? And how do you ask questions that you’re not obtrusive, you don’t interrogate your prospect, but you’re delivering value while you’re asking questions. So can you talk a little bit there how to do it well?

Yeah, so once again, there’s a number of different tacks and definitely going out and doing interviews of your customers, your existing customers, and making sure that you’re being very unbiased in how you’re asking the questions and you’re approaching it. Because one of the things that’s really revealing is, so our customers will have an idea of of why their customers are buying from them and what matters to them and why they became a customer.

And it’s just really surprising how often that isn’t the reason why they became a customer. And that’s not why they’re staying a customer and why they continue with the product or service. So it’s really important to hear from the customer themselves. And you can do that with, themselves. You can do that with, I highly recommend doing that one-on-one interviews where you ask your clients if they would participate in an interview, explain briefly why it’s going to help them and that you’d really appreciate their time.

You can even give them some kind of a bonus, etc. Every business is different and certainly in big B2B sales often you can’t give types gifts or anything, but you could still do something where you bring a goodie basket in For their team so that everyone in the team can share in a muffin basket or something But anyway, that’s sort of a high the point yeah, the other exercises we do have a client why exercise that we take all of our customers through and when you have You know the input from multiple people who touch the customer to get that input, that’s also really helpful because you start to see all the different perspectives.

A lot of our work is really wrapped around a growth mindset because you have to be open to a different approach, a different idea, a different way of thinking so that you can really capture that. But we go through that exercise as well. So there’s a number of tactics that you can utilize to really get inside of that customer why, and then you bring those together and then you start to modify with the marketing like your messaging, your positioning, even for the sales team, finessing the communications that you have.

I love this idea to get inside the customer why. It really is asking the question, what is driving them, what are they trying to achieve? I love it. So Lynn, this is specialty stuff. If our listeners would like to learn more and get in touch with you, how can they connect and how can they find out more of what you do?

Well, you can find me at future forward sales. We didn’t really go into that, but I do have a great lead magnet that you can go to. It’s futureforwardsales.com/grow. And that’s actually going to lead you to one of my favorite B2B strategies. Actually, it’s for any kind of sales strategy, and that’s guest podcasting and how you can leverage guest podcasting, which I’m a guest right now, and so use podcast to grow your business. And so there’s a quick four-part masterclass. We’ve got a bunch of resources on that page. And you can also, if you’re interested, you can book a quick strike call with me right on that page.

Okay, that’s fascinating. So definitely do that and check Lynn out. She’s got wonderful resources on her website. She also has another program, which is called Petite 2 Queen. Would you mind saying a few words about that too?

So Petite2 Queen is our parent company and at Petite 2 Queen we help the world by providing sales and leadership programs and training so you can achieve more faster. And that is really our, that’s where we started, you know, with providing that on an individual basis because as I said, sales is leadership. But at the same time, we were always doing the B2B sales consulting and programs for, we have sales training and the sales strategy development program. And so I actually had a client who said, okay, I want to give you a referral, but I don’t want to send them to Petite Queen because it’s just, it’s going to turn them off. And so that’s why we created the future. And so this is last year, COVID wrap, everybody was pivoting their business, right? And doing some different things. So we created the second website because it is truly focused on our core business model, which is the B2B relationship sales and providing that consulting, the sales training and the sales strategy development programs.

Okay, so please check out Petite2 Queen and check out Future Forward Sales and also the podcast. So Lynn is also a podcast host. Check out her podcast of the same name. It’s really very, very valuable resources. So thank you, Lynn, for coming on the show. I really enjoyed having you. And for those of you who are listening, if you enjoyed the show, please don’t forget to rate and review us so that we can get out to more listeners. And also please remember to tune in next week. We will have another exciting entrepreneur coming on the show. So thank you, Lynn, for coming and everyone has a great day.

Thank you, Steve. It’s been a pleasure. 


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