EP - 052

Uncover Hidden Client Needs

With Guest Karl Becker

Close more deals by understanding what your customer really wants.

The How To Sell More Podcast


February 7, 2024

In this episode of “How to Sell More,” host Mark Drager takes a look at the “iceberg selling” approach with Karl Becker, founder of Improving Sales Performance, and author of Iceberg Selling, Set Up To Win, and Sales and Marketing Alignment.

A seasoned expert in forging meaningful client relationships, Karl explains the benefits to seeing beyond the obvious in sales. He walks us through the best practices of iceberg selling, a technique based on the understanding that, for every person, company, and situation, you can only see 10% of what's really going on. 

  • Benefits of diving deeper: The most effective salespeople are the ones who dive deeper—who prioritize relationships and stay focused on the big picture of what they're playing for.
  • Connection leads to trust: Once you understand the underlying needs and challenges of your clients, you’ll be able to guide them to the best solution and create a lasting connection based on trust.
  • Playing the long game: Practice iceberg selling to bring more value to customers, deepen your connections, and take your sales, and life, to a higher level.

“If you really want to improve how you sell and how you solve, you build relationships.” -- Karl Becker

Links to This Episode

Key Takeaways

  • Iceberg selling - This sales approach emphasizes understanding the full scope of a client's situation, much like seeing the unseen part of an iceberg. Recognize that clients often reveal only a small portion of their actual needs or challenges.
  • Salesperson's adaptability - Salespeople need to adapt their strategies based on the client and situation.  This includes remaining versatile in your communication style, switching between introverted and extroverted approaches, as needed.
  • Integration of sales and marketing - Alignment between sales and marketing teams is crucial for business success and allows for consistency in messaging and strategies to ensure a seamless customer experience.

Top 3 Reasons to Listen

Serve, don’t sell: Build stronger, more informed relationships with clients by understanding their broader context and needs.

Don’t be afraid to ask: Ask open-ended questions to engage clients and understand their perspectives better.

Be sure to listen: Listen actively and empathetically to build trust and rapport with your clients.

Follow Karl Becker on Social

Website: https://www.improvingsalesperformance.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karlbeckeriii/

More About Today's Guest, Karl Becker

Sales Performance Consultant, Coach, Author, and Speaker

Over the past three decades, Karl Becker has founded and managed numerous companies. Currently, he leads Improving Sales Performance, a consultancy dedicated to helping sales organizations build high-performing teams and reach their revenue objectives. Becker is known for authoring works such as Set up to Win: Three Frameworks to a High-Performing Sales Organization, Sales & Marketing Alignment, and Iceberg Selling. His motivation for writing Iceberg Selling stems from his extensive experience coaching salespeople across various levels, aiming to enhance their performance and customer relationships to secure more deals. Through this work, Becker emphasizes the importance of understanding the deeper needs and experiences of customers, likened to the unseen part of an iceberg, to achieve more effective sales outcomes.

A Transcription of The Talk

Mark Drager: So, Karl Becker, I want to talk to you about iceberg selling. What is it? Let's get into it. It's this really interesting approach to selling. What is iceberg selling?

Karl Becker: Yeah, thanks for asking that. You know, I think all of us as salespeople, already know we're supposed to build rapport, build relationships, and be good listeners, right? Those are kind of table stakes. But what I've learned over the years is everything, including myself, and you and our customers. They're all icebergs. And if you think about an iceberg, what do we know? Well, if you ever watched the movie Titanic, there's a ton under the surface that we don't see. Right? And that's why that ship hit it, right? And so, my whole premise here is, if we can begin to look at everyone as an iceberg, our clients, the people that we're having those initial appointments with, and realize they're only showing us about 10% of what's really going on. As a salesperson, if we just live there, how are we going to ever really know the real solution that they need, right? Because we're only looking at 10% of the story. So the whole premise here is like, how can we start to look below? How can we get more curious, ask questions, and really understand more and more what's going on in someone's life or what's underneath the surface, so that we can be of service can provide solutions so that we can connect better? And just in general, I also think, from a human point of view, be better humans, because we're connecting with everyone at a better level. So that's iceberg selling.

Mark Drager: I mean, I get it in simple terms. But in my experience, there are people who will just not reveal very much, they'll play their cards very close to their chest, you might be in a competitive situation where they tiptoe around answering your questions, and they may only give you so much time. And so if someone is inbound, if someone is very willing if you're speaking with the veto, where you're able to move through this and take your time to draw it out of them. But in many situations, we're not getting that time. So how do we go about that?

Karl Becker: Yeah, I mean, the first thing I always like to play around with before we talk about the tactics, the how, is that level reset because I would tell you, most salespeople I know, including myself, have head trash. They're stories from our past, whether it's how our parents raised us, the horrible sales manager we had, right when we first started, or some movie we watched where they say ABC, and you know what I'm talking about. I think we have these issues, these stories, this trash that we bring into the conversation, sometimes that prevent us from being authentic, that prevent us from showing up and risking who we are. And in my mind, sales is about being a guide. So the first thing I would tell you is if you are going to go into a situation and you feel like people are going to put up walls, take your walls down, be transparent, and be really cool with who you are. I mean that like, like, I might start a conversation that says, you know, I've been doing this for three years working at this company, I gotta tell you, I've seen all sorts of clients. But you know, your situation seems pretty complex, I'm pretty sure we can help you. But I'm not really quite sure. And as much as I'd love to help you, I'd like to spend this time to make sure that we're both spending our time in the correct place. The more you can help me, the more I can tell you that. And if in 30 minutes of talking, we're not in a good fit. There's no smoke and mirrors, I'm not going to pull a trick out of my bag and surprise you. Let's just have a real conversation. Okay, now, I'm not going to tell you everyone's going to melt out of the gate and start to open up, but at least you're starting to pattern that this is going to be a real conversation.

Mark Drager: In my experience, the smarter the questions that you ask the salesperson, the more you're able to kind of bob and weave during the conversation in real time. I don't know if impressed is the right word. But you certainly can win over your prospects by showing that you understand the vertical, the industry, the need, and the challenge they might be facing.

Karl Becker: Yeah, one of the very first steps, there are five best practices for iceberg selling. The first one is doing the research. And I gotta tell you I meet so many salespeople. I've done this myself, too. I jump on a call. And it's like, Hey, what are we talking about again, today? It's like that's a fail out of the gate. The gate, there's a level of table stakes any professional needs to have. And you know, if you're not looking at socials and what's going on in their feeds, and what's on their website, and in every little clue you can, you're just creating risk. And you're also reinforcing this kind of stereotype that salespeople mail it in or salespeople, you know, they don't do the extra work. They're lazy or whatever story that is in our head. But absolutely, I mean, I tell the story in the book. Some of this is really basic. My dad turned 80 I wanted to have a surprise birthday party for him. What do you know about 80-year-olds? Hey, they don't like to drive at night. Why? They don't see very well. But about a restaurant that's dark. Nope. What about a restaurant with stairs? Nope. These are the basic table stakes. I would say you know if you're the domain expert and you don't know what's going on in your industry, you don't know what's going on in this person's company. Hit the pause button, spend some time, be prepared, and get in there because people do recognize professionals and they want to work with people who play good ball. That's the bottom line.

Mark Drager: So my grandfather's birthday was just last weekend; he was 95. We had a luncheon. So is that the answer? Switch it to a luncheon.

Karl Becker: Absolutely, a luncheon on the first floor of a restaurant, where there's easy parking and a menu that has a lot of simple options, right? Things like that. Absolutely.

Mark Drager: Beautiful, beautiful. So if that is step one, walk me through if you can, the other four steps of the framework.

Karl Becker: So I really like to set myself up for success. And I like to set up other people for success too.

Mark Drager: So I'm sorry, who doesn't though? Right? Who doesn't?

Karl Becker: But it's about that intentionality, right, like understanding that this is your meeting. I think a lot of times we go into a meeting and we're like, "Hey, what do you want to talk about?" And all of a sudden, we're kind of relinquishing control of what this is going to be like, what's this experience, and so much of selling, so much of any communication, is an experience. So what I like to do is just kind of get buy-in from the beginning. And a lot of what I talked about, I think you're going to go, "That's not new." It might not be new, but I don't know many people that do it. And if it is, but if it's something heard before, maybe this is a reminder. So I like to kind of go, "Hey, do we still have 45 minutes? Yeah, great. What do you think about this? I'm just going to brainstorm with you a little bit. Why don't we spend the first couple of minutes telling me about your company your role there, and what you're trying to achieve? Then I'll share a little bit about myself, how I started to work here, why I have this job, why I love it, why I've been at this company, and how we work with our clients. And then from there, when I start to share back if I think we're a good fit or not. And if it's still making sense. I really like the idea of us brainstorming together a little bit, like let's talk about maybe how we could work together, and explore some things. And if it still looks like a good fit. Let's talk about what the next steps would be. Do you think we could spend the next 45 minutes like that?" I gotta tell you, I'm 51 years old. I don't think I've ever had anyone say no, ", that's a horrible idea."

Mark Drager: Yeah, because at the worst, they're going to say you got 20 minutes, and you go, "Okay, let's adjust."

Karl Becker: But any professional wants you to manage their time quickly. And the only reason they're on that call is you have some value that they don't know about. They need the value you have. So make it efficient, make it high value, create an experience where they're like, "This guy plays good ball, he did the research, he knows what's going on. I know there's no smoke and mirrors, there's no surprise, he's just set the stage. Let's execute." So that's step number two, I kind of mentioned the next few, I'm happy to pause in case you have a question or I think,

Mark Drager: Do you tend to go into meetings with an intention either around not about the outcome, but around feeling, around experience, around what you're hoping you'll be able to share? Provide? Because I found in the past, if I come in, reminding myself like this is supposed to be fun, just something as simple as that, like, this is supposed to be fun, I will go into the meeting, trying to have fun. And I will network a little bit more, and I'll sell a little bit less. And I'll be more curious because I'm just trying to have fun here. Do you tend to set those types of intentions? In step two?

Karl Becker: I do. And that kind of gets to the beginning of the book. The beginning of the book talks about how great salespeople are because we make a difference in the world. We put fuel in our companies, we put fuel in the economy if it's the holidays, we...

Mark Drager: Sure, sure, sure, propaganda from salespeople for salespeople.

Karl Becker: But it is but you know, and then the second one is, you know, what are you playing for? Why do you do this in the first place, it could be independence, money, fun, I like to connect, I'm a social

guy, and whatever it is, right? So I guess I would say a big part of selling for me is connecting with who you are and why you're doing this in the first place. And then bringing that intention, you know, for you, you like to have fun, you know, somebody else they might like to this, like really learn about people in the process of doing business. But absolutely, if you're not kind of curating the experience you want somebody to have, I think you're losing some advantage because somebody else is going to and that's going to create that rapport, that's going to create that energy, that excitement. And that's kind of step three, how do you build rapport?

Mark Drager: Okay, so let's just circle around on the last few, just to make sure we got them down. You've already spoken about them. But let's just close the loop on that.

Karl Becker: Yeah, first one, do the research, right? Be a professional, and show up ready to go. If you were a sports player, you would watch the game tape from their competitors, right? Do the same thing, you're a professional. The second one is to really set yourself up for success. Let people know where you're going to take them, get commitment there, because also the more commitment we get early on, it's easier to have guests know, "Yes, let's move forward, we're able to get in a dialogue." And so then the third one is about building rapport. And we kind of addressed that at the beginning of the podcast, like, the more I can share about me, the more you're going to share about me. You know, one of the things I find when I network, if I ask somebody the question, I want them to ask me, they usually do, right? So, "Hey, how'd you get into this job? Well, how did you get your job,? How did you get into this industry?" So that rapport is really about asking big questions and being curious, and kind of continuing to ask the "why" underneath the iceberg. What's underneath? What's underneath? What does success look like for their company? What's success going to look like for them? What's going to get in the way of making a decision, like just having conversations and asking questions? And if people don't want to answer, then that opens up another opportunity to kind of go, "Is there something I'm asking that you feel like you need to withhold from me? Because if I really want to help solve this, can you help me? Is there another question I should be asking?" So after you build rapport, I like to test that I understood, "Did I get it?" Repeat back those types of things. I'm testing for success. And while I'm testing for success, I'm also kind of co-creating solutions, right? "Well, what do you think if we did this? What do you think of that?" And I even tell them that I'm like, "Hey, can we brainstorm a little bit? Can we co-create? Can I be a little bit vulnerable and put myself out here and just share what I think you told me and how I think we might be able to help you?" Again, most people say yes. And then the last part, just to kind of round out these processes, because I'm sure there are some people going, "Well, what else?" It's so simple that we never make this commitment to the next step. And I think one of the reasons we don't do that is we have head trash that if we've built all this rapport, they like us, and all of a sudden I go, "Mark, let's get our calendars out. I'm gonna send you the proposal on Wednesday. Can we review it Thursday morning?" Oh my gosh, my skin crawls. Maybe he's going to feel like I'm salesy now. And it's like, no, man, you're being of service. And here's the bananas thing. The more senior someone is, the more busy they are, the more they want you to freaking step up and take a to-do off their plate. So if you're talking to the president or CEO of a gazillion-dollar whale company, I still want you to say, "Hey, whale company guy. Can we talk on Thursday at 10? Let's get it out now." So that we have a backup, we have a way to connect, and then you're not getting ghosted, you're moving forward. So those are the five best practices, if you really want to improve how you sell, and how you solve, you build relationships. And I'd also say have fun and be more successful.

Mark Drager: It's a great opportunity as well, at the end there, to suggest that maybe that senior leader might want to bring in some subject matter experts from internally. Oh, then build up your credibility with the different team leads or the different leadership, because now you're kind of being introduced through the CEO's meeting. And if he puts those people down on the calendar, those people are showing up.

Karl Becker: That's brilliant. I love that. I'm taking that with me today.

Mark Drager: So I'm speaking with Karl Becker from Improving Sales Performance, the author of a bunch of books, super, super experienced in sales. Now, I want to shift gears a little bit if we can. Because if you're listening to this, and this seems obvious, as you mentioned, then it might be obvious. If you're listening to this and you've never heard this before, then you're like, "Oh, my goodness." You might feel bad because you're like, to me, this is very, very basic. So what I'm trying to ask here is, does this simply come down to maturity and experience in sales? The more time you spend in the role, the more up-channel you move, the more senior you are, the more comfortable you are leading and having these types of conversations, and if that is the fact, how do we close the gap for people who are a little bit newer to a sales role?

Karl Becker: Yeah, I think that question has so much kind of thought behind it. I'll tell you a really quick story. And I think by telling the story, I'll probably start to process it out loud and answer. So oftentimes, I'll come in as a fractional lead, like CRO or VP of sales, or whatever. So I've been in a professional services company for about three years. And I run the weekly sales meetings, back home workshops, like working sessions, we're getting into work, this isn't your grandma's sales meeting like this is making stuff happen. So I say, "Okay, hey, guys, we've been practicing, you know, how we talk about our value, how we're different, we've kind of practiced our elevator pitches, which to me are kind of a little, you know, like, fantasyland. Like, we're really going to be able to be a robot like, it's more fluid than that." I said, "But we're gonna play a game. The game is you're going to Vegas, it's a conference, and your ideal customers are there. And you can paint the picture, you can meet them in a coffee line, you can be on the lawn care, but you got to sit down next to somebody, and what are you going to say?" And I intentionally went with the youngest, less experienced salesperson, and then I ended with one of the partners. The young sales guy, nothing was wrong. But he's like, "I'm at the coffee station. I see this guy, he has a vest on in the name of the company. I go, 'How long have you been there?' And then I start to tell them about what we do. 

And then I asked them if there's an opportunity to meet further," and it was very bottom of the funnel, like, do you want to buy this thing, and nothing that he said was wrong. But he started at a place in his mind that the person was ready to buy. Now we go through everybody else on the sales team, and I go to the senior partner, she goes, "Well, I would be on a plane. And I would sit down, and this guy would come and I would see his briefcase, and we're gonna have the name of the company. And he would turn to me and say, 'Hey, I'm Bob.' And I would say, 'I'm Lynn, are you going to Vegas? Are you going to Hopkins?' Yeah. And then I would ask him all these questions about why he's going to the conference, how we started the company, and what his role is. And if when we landed, we were still talking, I would say, 'Well, I'm at the conference. Let me know if you'd like to meet up. Here's my business card. I'd be happy to keep this conversation. I really enjoyed the time.'" I think the answers to that are right. I think when I was young in sales I learned how to close all the books that was buying, like how to close how to close the deal. But what I think a lot of us forget, was that it is a journey. It's a series of micro yeses and noes and experiences. And so I think I would answer your question with, it's some of it's just time in the seat. But you also have the ability to get reps quickly. And there are probably people in your company or in associations that will buddy up to you and share their wisdom.

Mark Drager: That perfectly actually explains that I think because something that I've just recently done in the last, just this quarter, actually, I go to a number of events. I'm part of a number of masterminds. And I've realized that I can talk to anyone about anything. Now, I don't often think that I tell myself, "Mark, you can talk to anyone about anything," because I have these podcasts.

And I often sit down with people and I sit down on the plane, and I talk to the person beside me and I say, "Hey, we're gonna be buddies for the next six hours. And oh, you're a lawyer, and you're in New York, and you just relocated from Tampa," and, you know, just talk about life. Totally. But when I go to these events, now, I often find myself at breakfast at the restaurant, sitting alone, because I don't know anyone. And I see a bunch of other people from the same conference sitting alone because they don't know anyone. And as they walk in, if they're being seated, I often turn to them and say, "Hey, why don't you join me? I love it." They're not now they're not going to say no, they're not going to say no. But now I've just forced myself to talk to this person who I don't know for the next 30 or 45 minutes. Now, if it's a train wreck, I can eat very quickly. I apologize. I can say, "Oh, my goodness, I'm late for a conference call. I gotta run." But more often than not, I forced myself to try and have these conversations with people. I was at an event in September and I sat across from a man with a ton of experience attached to the Kiyosaki organization, in the real estate space, a man I think he's in his late 60s or early 70s. I don't have any commercial real estate experience. I don't have any real estate or finance experience. And we're not in the same age bracket. So naturally, what did I do? I said, "Tell me, I found him, as we were speaking, he mentioned he had a daughter, and his daughter was slightly older than my kids. So I said, 'What advice would you give me? For my kids?'" Oh, man, and, immediately, then we can connect as fathers or as parents, and we can talk about what money lessons we want to teach our kids or what things we want to know. There's, as I talked to him, I realized there's no opportunity to work together. But it's just good practice, I think.

Karl Becker: I agree. And, the other thing is, it's a muscle memory. I have a friend who's kind of a professional sales guy, he's been a manager and started some companies, but other than that, he just likes to sell. He loves it. And I'll say, "What's your secret to getting energized every day?" He goes, ", I go to a coffee shop every morning, no matter where I am. One, I like coffee, but I have to talk to three people before I can leave. And I want to go where there's a line. And if I can connect with the barista or somebody in line, then I'm I'm like charged. That was my pregame.

Mark Drager: Is this guy an extrovert? Because I think many people will be surprised to note that I'm actually an introvert. This is hard for me, to be able to bring the energy up, to carry the conversation, lead it. I have to put on a lot of practice so that I don't get bored or tired or what have you.

Karl Becker: Exactly. This guy probably is. He's kind of out there, the stereotypical guy that just, he's in the room, he's talking. But I will tell you, some of my closest friends, some of the best consultants I work with within this industry, and I would even say myself, I'm probably right in the middle. I can flex between introvert and extrovert. And I think all you need to do is get that person to sit down. Then ask that big, open-ended question and listen. I think there is kind of a myth that you have to be an extrovert to be really good at sales. And I would say, I don't think so. I think the more you can listen and connect and just be really present, not feel like you have to be the loudest voice, people feel that. They feel that you want to invest in what they have to say, which creates a connection. Connection opens the door to tons of things, you know. So yeah, I think what you're doing is great, plus your bargains. If people see you meeting a stranger, you're standing at the conference, you go and go, "Hey, let's go in." And now you've got somebody that can introduce you. So there's a lot of great things about that idea.

Mark Drager: Well, that's actually a smart one that someone has told me that I haven't tried yet, which is like, "Hey, you've been here, you're really well connected. Are there two or three people that you believe I should connect with?" And I don't know if I've had the courage to do that yet. And I don't know why; it's really simple. It's not hard to ask. But there are a lot of these tools, as we mentioned, that are simple, but it's just about us putting in the reps and doing it. Yeah. And so you mentioned that you come in as a fractional CRO, as a fractional sales lead, as a consultant. Help us understand, what is actually holding back most sales organizations. Let's imagine that you have anywhere from maybe a smaller sales team, you have a team from like six to 20 people. So we're not talking about enterprise level. But what are these organizations failing to do, and what are you coming in to fix often?

Karl Becker: Yeah, well, I'm glad you said that number. That's usually where I'm living. It's kind of dead-on. You know, there's not like one thing, so I'll just kind of freestyle the things that I see. I'm looking at my book "Sales and Marketing Alignment" right now. So that's probably what just triggered it for me. A lot of times I find there's no communication between sales and marketing. Just, and I don't even mean they don't have to be like holding hands running down the beach in love. But it's like if I was a salesperson, and we had a new product, and I was at a trade show or a conference, and I'm using the messaging that was given to me and it's not connecting, and I pivot, who's gonna go back and tell marketing that?

Mark Drager: Now, hold on, is there something in the water? Because I would say for the last four or five episodes, this has been a theme that has been brought up by our guests over and over and over again. And so I kind of get it. But I'm surprised we had Purna on the podcast, who is a content lead at LinkedIn, who is the Supplier of the Year at LinkedIn, so not a small organization. And she wrote a book on this. We've had past guests speak about this need for a CRO that can bring in both the sales and marketing sides. Is this a new phenomenon? Is this something that we're just kind of waking up to? I'm kind of surprised that it's brought up so often.

Karl Becker: I think it's probably two things. One, it is important, it is going on. I don't know why. I mean, I feel like we could probably listen to podcasts from 10 years ago, and there's somebody saying this, but I don't know if it's the explosion of how much digital lead gen happens, and maybe the softness of some sectors of the economy. And people are looking at the effectiveness of sales and marketing. And it could have been a little loose the last two years or three. And now it's like, okay, well, wait a minute, we have to make some decisions. And, you know, is it sales? Is it marketing? Is it both? What are we going to do? So I think there's probably some macroeconomic pressure happening. I also think there's a maturity of leaders, you know, the CMO five years ago that's 55 or 60, think about how they grew up. And versus the CMO now who's 45 or even 30?

Mark Drager: CMOs are sitting in roles for as little as 18 months on average.

Karl Becker: Yeah. So I think there's something just naturally happening. I also think we're always trying to find more and more effectiveness in our overall sales and marketing strategy, and our sales funnel, and I think we're getting to the point where we, as business owners, or consultants, people that are trying to make the systems work out. How come this is so wasteful, you know, marketing has all these leads, but sales say they all suck. What the heck, you know. And sometimes I just tell people, bringing, it's no different than iceberg selling, bringing people together, finding out what's underneath, having those serious conversations where you're curious, asking the questions, you don't know what's going to happen, the possibility is going to happen. So that's the first one a lot of times is just like, hey, is everyone talking? Can we audit our journey? Our system? Where is it breaking, there's usually gold in our CRMs that, but we're out trying to find new mines. And it's like, they're right here in our backyard. So one of the big things is just bringing people together. And then the other is trying to find quick wins. And then I think from a team point of view, I have found more and more that sometimes these organizations just need an accountability chart. What are my roles? What am I supposed to be doing? You hired me to be a farmer. But now you think I should be out doing Bizdev? Like, wait a minute, I didn't agree to that. So sometimes it's just a reset of who are the players and where they are on the field? And how do they all work together? It's a lot of times this stuff is the basic stuff. But we're so driven to hit numbers that a lot of times I think we tried to take shortcuts and we missed the fundamentals.

Mark Drager: Yeah, because I mean, I come from a marketing background and an agency background. I've owned an agency since 2006. And I like to talk brass tacks, right? We can work to increase lead generation, but then our quality of leads is going to drop. It's just a byproduct of the fact that if we bring in more volume, the quality will drop. We can work to increase the quality of leads, but then the volume is going to drop. And you can bring on a salesperson, I think often and hope that they're just going to take care of everything and figure it out for you. But the reporting, the CRM, the tracking, the follow-up, the accountability, the training, the sales enablement, tools, the marketing and lead gen that you have to produce, the onboarding of the client, and then taking them post-sale and moving through the delivery process... Often, I don't think people realize how much time and investment and people hours it takes to actually build out a system that works. And if they did, they would go, "Wait, hold on, we have to do all of this work just to get this sale?" And I don't know if people would jump in off the deep end into many of these programs or many of these systems, or many of these investments that they make if they realized that that's only 1/5 of the entire system, and you need to make the entire system work.

Karl Becker: You're spot on. I mean, I'll tell you that I've got three or four clients where more or less what we're doing right now is high-level accountability charting between sales and marketing, and probably delivery depending on the organization. Then I like to talk about what's the journey we take clients on from beginning to end and post-sale because a lot of these, there are upsells, and retention strategies that are not getting done. And I go to Lucidchart, I make flowcharts, I call them placemats. And it's, and I don't expect everyone to follow every diagram of like, "If yes, no," but at least we can go, "This is our ideal state. Now, does the CRM match? Do the dashboards match? Do the KPIs match?" Well, no. "Okay, well, then how are we going to monitor the system to see where we can find lift points or fixes?" And you're right. I mean, I tell people what we're going to do, and some people are so thirsty, they're like, "Oh, my God, you know, whatever the budget is, do that." And others are like, "Well, I don't know if we really need that." And at some point, it's like, well, if you're trying to build a scalable, highly functional sales team that's not dependent on one or two people. This is how we do it.

Mark Drager: Karl Becker, this actually has been a really fun conversation. I love being able to bat around with someone with your experience, just the quality of conversation, being able to throw really hard questions at you, and you answer them and provide so much insight. So, final question for you. It seems like the entire time we've been talking about quality questions. What is your favorite question to ask someone?

Karl Becker: Well, I love how curious that question is. And wow, what a powerful conversation starter, like if you were meeting me at that breakfast, and I sat down like the story you told me, you asked me that question. That's a good one. I love asking people what they're playing for. Like, "Why are you doing this? What are you playing for?" And I'll get everything from, "My future self," "I need to care for my parents," "My kids are going to college and, you know, we had a bankruptcy five years ago. And if my wife and I aren't hustling, I don't know how we're going to help our kids out," or, "Carl, I just love solving problems," or whatever it is. But I really love open-ended questions. The magic one question if I'm selling, I know it's kind of cheesy and everyone does it, but it's so good. And the one where I like to ask them, you know, "What are you playing for? And why do you get up in the morning? What are you playing for?" It just opens up possibilities, and one of the things I play for is possibilities.

Resources & Go Deeper

“Importance of Understanding Customers Needs and How to Do it”

This article emphasizes the critical role of asking great sales questions to identify compelling needs, thereby aiding in successfully closing sales. It discusses the frustration sales professionals face with stalled sales, especially when the solution directly addresses the customer's need but lacks urgency. The article suggests that understanding and uncovering customer needs can create the necessary urgency to close sales effectively.

Importance of Understanding Customers Needs and How to Do it (sbigrowth.com)

"How to Build Strong Customer Relationships" from Sprout Social"

This article outlines several strategies for enhancing customer relationships, emphasizing the importance of implementing customer feedback and personalizing customer experiences. It suggests using social media for relatable brand voice, offering rewards and incentives, sharing user-generated content, and providing value on social media platforms as effective ways to engage customers and foster loyalty. AI's role in automating and improving customer service for better relationship building is also highlighted.

How to Build Strong Customer Relationships | Sprout Social

"8 Effective Customer Engagement Strategies for 2023"

Outlines practical steps to enhance customer engagement. Key strategies include mapping the customer journey to understand touchpoints, creating personalized experiences using customer data, and implementing AI-powered chatbots for efficient interaction. They also emphasize the importance of visual engagement tools like cobrowsing and video chat to create a more human and interactive customer experience. Engaging customers through a mix of technology and personalized service can significantly improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.

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