Decoding Sales

Episode 29: Decoding Subtle Cues

July 29, 2022 Alex Allain
Episode 29: Decoding Subtle Cues
Decoding Sales
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Decoding Sales
Episode 29: Decoding Subtle Cues
Jul 29, 2022
Alex Allain

* How body language and subtle cues can tell you if a deal is on track - or not
* How to take the initiative when you get clues that the conversation is going off-track
* Cues to look for in a virtual sales environment
* How to recreate casual "lobby moments" during a virtual call

This is our first video episode! Find it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzNtJUyjKoA

This episode is sponsored by our friends at Salesroom who are building a video conferencing platform specifically for AE's and their buyers to build strong relationships in the virtual world. Built from the ground up specifically for sales interactions with video note-taking, real-time transcription and question detection, and AI-based recommendations, every feature of the platform is meant to help build rapport and trust. Go to salesroom.com to get early access!

Learn more about Peter's bootcamp Sales Sprint and his founder-led sales community, Zero to Hero!

Show Notes Transcript

* How body language and subtle cues can tell you if a deal is on track - or not
* How to take the initiative when you get clues that the conversation is going off-track
* Cues to look for in a virtual sales environment
* How to recreate casual "lobby moments" during a virtual call

This is our first video episode! Find it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzNtJUyjKoA

This episode is sponsored by our friends at Salesroom who are building a video conferencing platform specifically for AE's and their buyers to build strong relationships in the virtual world. Built from the ground up specifically for sales interactions with video note-taking, real-time transcription and question detection, and AI-based recommendations, every feature of the platform is meant to help build rapport and trust. Go to salesroom.com to get early access!

Learn more about Peter's bootcamp Sales Sprint and his founder-led sales community, Zero to Hero!

Alex:

Welcome to Decoding Sales, a podcast where an engineer, that's me, Alex, and a salesperson.

Peter:

That's me, Peter

Alex:

Talk about the art and science of sales as it relates to life and business. In this episode, we are doing something a little bit special. If you are listening in your normal podcasting app, you should know that we are recording our first ever video episode. This is an experiment for us to see how it goes. This might not be the first, the last one, but we don't know, we'll find out, we'll have it on YouTube. We'll put a link in the show notes, uh, so that if you do wanna watch us, uh, you're welcome to, or continue to listen to your normal podcast episode. If you're watching us on video, we just wanna say, hi, thank you for joining us. And in this episode, we are going to talk about the art of subtle cues in human communication. So important and in any sales process, the deal can hinge on and be won or lost on just noticing the subtle expression, the, the little frown that tells you something's not quite right. And that's really hard in a virtual environment to pick up on. So in this episode, we're gonna talk about subtle cues, both in the real world, and then how that translates into a virtual environment. How can you pick up on the right subtle cues. How do you respond when you've picked up a, a negative cue and how do you build momentum energy when you have a positive cue and finally, what exactly are these cues? What should you be looking for? What do they, what they, how do they translate from one environment to the next. Before we begin, I wanna give a special shout out to our sponsor Salesroom.com. Uh Salesroom is an innovative product built to help sellers break through with a number of really powerful features to make a customized, personalized sales experience for the buyer and the seller. Peter has been a beta user, and I think he has lots of nice things to say about them. Peter, I'm gonna turn it over to you.

Peter:

Yeah, I, I love the concept of Salesroom. Um, there's so many things that you could do within virtual selling that zoom simply can't handle. One of my favorite features personally, is, is having the timeline of how long you have left in the meeting. And also which topics are coming up in the milestone of the agenda that you set. And so you actually see like a really clean view of the agenda virtually within the video frame itself, which, which helps sellers, I think track the meeting in an efficient way and effective way.

Alex:

So please go, go to Salesroom.com and check them out because Salesroom is the only video conferencing solution built from the ground up to help salespeople break through. Okay. Peter, let's dive in to the content of this episode. Let's start off in the non virtual world for a minute and talk a bit about these subtle cues. When you were a young sales person at Dropbox making big enterprise deals, what were some of the key things that you would be looking for in those one on one or small group or even big group conversations to tell you whether or not the deal was on track? That weren't what they were saying, but what they were doing. I, I know body language is hard to describe in a few words, but are there any particular signs or indicators that you found extremely helpful?

Peter:

Yeah, I think, I think one of the things about body language is, you know, when you're actually, um, in a room there's often a presentation. That's being shown on the board. And so I actually like, you know, used to see, okay, how many times are folks looking at the presentation versus turning to look at you and engaging with you? And usually, you know, in physical meetings, I should say it's not typically one on one in an enterprise sales setting. There's usually eight people in the room, maybe two or three people from the selling side. Four or five people on the customer side. So I think body language is, is not just obviously like how they look, if they're slumped over, if they're like, if they have good posture, you know, cuz that's very variable, but I think it's also like how much they move around in their seat. And oftentimes, if people are just looking at the presentation, I often see that as, as a negative, because there's no variability in them engaging with you from, from like the in person room perspective. Right. So, so that's just one example of, of, of body language cues, where, where you're really understanding how engaging you are based off of how much they're focused on you versus like the actual static presentation that might be on the board.

Alex:

So So you're kinda saying like, if you're, if they're just locked in on that presentation, they're only receiving information kind of through that one intellectual channel, but not sort of the. Maybe more emotional or, or human centered channel of connecting with you.

Peter:

Yeah.

Alex:

not a great sign for the deal.

Peter:

Yeah, exactly. And also like, you know, even a one-on-one conversation, I'd say like a lot of people who are engaged will change their posture and their body and their positioning multiple times. And, you know, in dramatic moments you might lean in and in very boring. Yeah. In very boring moments, you might lean back and just seem very reticent. Right. Yeah. And so you're even doing that in a virtual capacity. So I can, I can sense like the difference in engagement. And I think that's big in an in person meeting. And those are cues that you use to pick up on that again, are, are harder in a virtual setting. So you need to actually, um, on purpose intentionally, create space for that.

Alex:

I really want to dive into the virtual theme in a minute, but before we get there, I am quite curious if you have any tactics that you like to use, it's very easy when somebody brings up an objection explicitly to kind of identify that and talk about that. But if, if somebody is just kind of disengaged, uh, or if they're facing very excited, vice versa, I'm curious how you, how some of the techniques you've used to, to really address those subtle cues in a, in a natural way, rather than beating somebody over the head. Like you look like you're maybe a little disengaged right now.

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So actually it's not too far off from what you just said right now, but of course, I don't say you look disengaged, but if I do feel like somebody's skeptical, I will say you actually look a little bit skeptical about what I'm saying. I'll stop myself because I personally get very nervous. If somebody looks disengaged or somebody looks not happy or disappointed, or doesn't really buy into a grand deal's vision statement, I just put out there. I don't like to keep going. I just kind of call out the elephant in the room and say, you know, that's what I believe, but you seem a little skeptical. Um, do you agree with what I just mentioned, you know, and give that person space to address what you're sensing. And often sometimes folks actually say, no, I'm not skeptical at all. I'm just, there's a lot going through my mind right now. That's happened to me and, and I actually completely agree with you. I'm just trying to digest everything because this is the first time this concept has come through my my head, which can be a positive, right? If you're telling them something, that's actually, you know, very exciting and, and unique on the other hand, you know, it gives them the, the space to say, yeah, actually I don't agree with you and you've read my body language correctly. So even if you're incorrect about some of the assumptions around body language, I think it's important to just take a step back and call out what you think is going on.

Alex:

Can I try some analogy here? It it's almost like you're using the, the body language as like a, a an alignment check during the meeting. Are we in the same head space? Are we in the same place? And as long as you're kind of in the same place, you know, that everybody's engaged, you're, you're having the conversation you wanna be having. But if the body language is different and you're seeing sort of a misalignment of some kind, your goal is a salesperson is to address that as quickly as possible. So you don't diverge too far. Lose trust, lose the, lose the credibility, but instead re you know, the, the threads start to diverge, and then you like bring them back together or understand exactly where the gap is, so that you can either address it and maybe strip line, as we talked about many times, or cut the deal and say, this isn't the right fit. Did you ever do that by the way, you kind of say like, you look skeptical or I, I send some concerns and then they give some concerns and you're like, this is definitely not the right deal. I should get off this call.

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely get off the call. And also in a meeting, you know, there's still, you could still stripline an in person meeting. Obviously an in person meeting is much more expensive in terms of traveling to the meeting and being there and, and having, you know, the, the physical time to spend with somebody. Um, but you can, you can say things like: it seems like we might not be fully aligned, so it's that that's okay, um, but let me explain to you like a few more things, just to make sure that, that, you know, this might not be a fit, right. Or just to make sure there's something I'm not missing or, or just to make sure there's something that you might not be interested in that I'm not like hitting on right now. Right. Um, but, but yeah, it's very common for me to say,"Hey, if those are your concerns and you don't agree with my statements and you don't agree with my view of the world, it just might not be a good fit. And that's totally fine."

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

But it, it gives, it gives, I like what you said about like, if the threads diverge it, it's stopping and calling out something like body language or skepticism allows you to bring them back together. It allows you to course correct during the meeting. Right. And I think that's really, really important in sales because if you don't course correct, you lose your audience and you lose credibility.

Alex:

You know, one thing that I, I think is always really interesting for maybe the founder listeners of the podcast is baselining where they're kind of at, or their expectations against the typical. So I'm actually quite curious: how often do you find that you need to course correct. Is it once in a, a call? Is it multiple times a call, once a week? How often is this actually happen? Hmm.

Peter:

For something that's new, like a new platform or a new concept, which, you know, we've mentioned Twingate multiple times. Founders on this call, you're probably selling something that's unique and novel, and that doesn't quite yet exist in the world or maybe is five or six years ahead of its time. And in those situations you're constantly course correcting. I'm constantly course correcting and I'm constantly checking in on whether or not I'm hitting the right temperature and, and the right notes. So I'm constantly using phrases. Like, am I on the right track? Do you agree that these are problems? Does it make sense? The approach we're taking? Now I know this is very different, so I want to pause just to make sure, like I'm addressing any of the concerns you might have or any questions you might have. This is a very different take on zero trust networking, or this is a very different take on this problem space, which is why I'm excited about this. But I just wanna make sure that, um, you also buy into the, the statements I'm making.

Alex:

That sounds really exhausting,

Peter:

Yeah, it, it is. It. Yeah, it is exhausting, but it's also extremely liberating and it's actually very empowering. I would I'll I'll say because you're, you're constantly drawing the, the other party into the conversation and having them think too, and it's very exhausting, but you know, selling is exhausting. And so I want an active participant on the other end. And so I, I use a lot of like speaking of subtle cues, I try and like call them out all the time

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

because there are opportunities for me to make sure the other side is engaged.

Alex:

Mm-hmm Mm-hmm I, I, I really like this. I, I, you know, I think this applies, we talk all, all the time about in the podcast it's not just about business, but also life. I think this applies so much in any relationship or any interaction with another person trying to find where the energy is converging in the conversation. If it's diverging trying to change course, or bring up another topic where there might be an alignment and you kind of, I feel like you're in a party and you're, you're talking to somebody and, and maybe it's kinda weird and you're like, the energy's not there. And then you try something else to, to change the, the tone. It feel like it's a very similar kind of skill here, uh, except so much more refined. I, I bet you'd be great at, you know, parties.

Peter:

Maybe I

Alex:

I know you are from drop their Dropbox days. I am quite confident in that.

Peter:

it is very exhausting. Yeah. And the concept of strip lining that you mentioned earlier yeah is very relevant in social settings too. Right? Like you have to know when to cut bait when to cut it loose and yeah there's things we do socially to say, oh, it actually looks like you're busy or you know, Hey, I'm, I'm gonna grab a drink actually. Or I'll, I'll talk to you in a little bit. I actually have to like talk to my friend over here. You know, there's all sorts of eject buttons that we have, and it's the same thing in sales, you know, like, in fact, in virtual sales, if somebody looks like they're on a different screen or they're typing, I'll sometimes say like, Hey, I'm sure you're really busy. Um, it, it looks like you're really busy. So I'll try to give you 10 minutes back at the of this call. Right. And that there's a subtle cue in there where, when I see somebody on a slack message, I can just tell, you know, or like when somebody's responding to somebody, they'll be like, just sec, just one second, please. Sometimes there's that weird. 30 second pause at the beginning when you get on a call and you're like,"Hey Alex, how are you doing?" And then you're like,"I'm doing well, sorry, just one second. I'm finishing up something." That is a perfect subtle cue. Like that person is telling you, I'm really busy and I barely got on this call.

Alex:

mm-hmm

Peter:

So then you have to, instead of just going and bulldozing through that call and pitching your product, you have to say, well, I'm sure you're very busy. You're head of security. I'm sure you're, you're dealing with a lot of fires. This should only take 20 minutes really? And we can even keep it to 15. Um, and I'll let you go about your day.

Alex:

Mm. Yeah. Well, you know, on that note, I, I have such a great example by the way of leveraging that subtle cue it, I think we should shift a little bit to the virtual world because it. Harder to pick up on some of these subtle cues. You know, we talked earlier about, you can sort of see somebody disengaging or somebody's really interested, but that's, that works when there's two people on the call. It's harder when there's a field of faces. So I am really curious about two things. The first one is what have been the most painful, missing social cues. What have you really wished you could get from that in person social interaction that you're not able to get over zoom.

Peter:

I, I think the one thing that you don't get is, you know, when you're in a boardroom style meeting, you can tell the other team looking at each other.

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

So you can tell how they're engaging in subtle ways. On a zoom call you have no idea or on a virtual sales call, you have no idea who's messaging who and what they're talking about in the background. So that I think is like an interesting change with virtual sales, cuz you're, you're speaking to everybody like face on. In a, in a meeting room people look at each other, right, depending on the topic. If some like topic really interests a security officer and the it person looks at the security officer, there's actually like a physical queue that is being shown that says, Hey actually seller what you mentioned is probably interesting to the security officer. In an in-person meeting there's more space to say, Hey, actually, Alex, it looks like, you know, this is something you're really interested in. It looks like you're leaning into this. And you could like, kind of make sure you, you start the, the side conversation from there. Right. But in a virtual world that's missing. Now people are still slacking each other. What's gained on our side is that the sellers can slack each other. Right. And so you can still pick up things, even though it's not in a room. And so there are. There is a benefit to virtual sales too, where I can slack my sales rep and say,"Hey, by the way, it looks like Alex, the security officer is disengaging. I would stop talking for a second" or like,"let me jump in." You know, that on the seller's side is a lot easier, right? Because you can't do that in a physical room to say, Hey, Alex, you're talking too much. Let me jump in.

Alex:

So you can really up level like the rest of your team by using one person's ability to really detect these subtle cues and then spread it to the whole team in a way that's much more polite than when you can't coalesce it. You, you can't coordinate

Peter:

Exactly. Yeah.

Alex:

in a room. I mean, you can kind of do it by looking.

Peter:

Yeah. And I, I, yeah. And I realized you asked, like what's missing and I turned that into like, what's gained as well, but but you know, like it's

Alex:

that's a typical salesperson response.

Peter:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. I, I spun it the other

Alex:

Have an episode. We have an episode on this.

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So the, yeah, one negative could be a positive as well. Um, but yeah, that, that in person, you know, cue is, has just transitioned to like more virtual back chatter and like, you know, like slack messaging and chat messaging.

Alex:

well, so I wanna push on that a little bit more actually, cuz you know, I, I think sometimes in a, in a, in a physical world setting those glances that are being exchanged are partially to communicate amongst the team, but also sometimes actually to communicate with the other parties, right? Like if I'm looking at my CEO on a conversation that's indicating very clearly that I want everyone to know that that's the person to be talking to. So what are, and that's so valuable in a virtual setting to have that same kind of cue. It's a little bit harder though. I I'm curious what you've seen replace that type of communication.

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah. So I see myself giving a lot more. Um, and, and this might seem obvious, but I'll give you some phrasing examples. I find myself giving a lot more verbal cues and verbal spotlights to people. So if my CEO is on a call yeah in, in a, in a physical room, I can turn to'em and say, you know,"Hey Tony," and address it. Right. Like in a, in a virtual setting, I can't say,"Hey, Tony." Right? I have to say Tony, I'm actually gonna turn it over to you now to explain the vision that you actually set forth with our device posture policy. Um, and so Alex, you know, I know you mentioned this on a previous call, that that was an important topic. So I'm gonna now hand it over to Tony to explain a little bit more. Tony, can you speak to. So that was like four or five sentences of basically like passing the baton. But also like what you noticed me doing is I provided a lot of context from before the call, as well as during the call. And then that I'm actually like physically or like virtually passing the Baton in a way that hopefully felt fluid. Right.

Alex:

mm-hmm it seems like that's like an upgrade in a lot of ways. It's very explicit and clear.

Peter:

Yeah. Actually,

Alex:

and clear.

Peter:

yeah, you have to be much more, I think, smooth and eloquent. And then also like, by the way, like bringing people into the conversation also means bringing up situations where you notice people wanting to jump in. So I've started using the phrase a lot,"hey Tony," or like,"Hey Alex, where are you gonna jump in there?"

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

And then just stop because like, you know, you notice the mute and unmute button going on and off all the time. I notice that all the time, and sometimes it's a mistake, you know, sometimes I unmute myself by mistake. Sometimes I mute myself on purpose. I rarely, when I unmute myself, I rarely had somebody say,"Hey, Peter, like I saw you unmuted, did you have something to say," which is such a hugely missed opportunity for me, every time I see somebody unmute, I log that in my mind. And even if somebody's talking after that person finished talking, I'll say,"Hey, Alex, I think you unmuted a few seconds ago. Did you have something to say?"

Alex:

Yeah. you know what that goes back to like aligning the energy because somebody has that energy to say something and if it gets bottled up, they're not gonna be paying attention for the rest of that part of the conversation.

Peter:

And introverts don't like to interrupt people. So it's

Alex:

you're telling me.

Peter:

style Yeah, exactly. So, but you know, if you, as a seller or CEO or whoever is holding a meeting, if you can pick up on those and you can have the bandwidth to like log all of those. Hugely hugely powerful. And by the way, amazingly empathetic moves to, to show the other side that you care about them. And I love like bringing the voice of the introvert into the meeting, right? And, and once they, you know, you could tell like the first couple times they interject, or the first couple times you give them the floor, they're a little shy,

Alex:

Mm-hmm

Peter:

And their voice is a little soft, but you know, you, the first step is to give them the stage. The second step is to acknowledge what they asked was an amazing point. And then all of a sudden the conversation becomes a lot more richer. Right. But a lot of sellers miss that opportunity because not a lot of people do that unfortunately.

Alex:

Well, and

Peter:

power of the unmute.

Alex:

And that is a place where. the virtual world is actually better than the physical world. Speaking of somebody who doesn't like to necessarily speak up, which is kind of funny that we're doing a podcast, but in a, in the physical world, you, there's not something as convenient as, as unmuting to send that signal, you can raise your hand, but we're not in fifth grade anymore. You. Put your fingers up or something, but then you kind of look like a dufus or like it's kind of a power move, you know, like yeah. Excuse me,

Peter:

Yeah. Well, well now you have the like raise hand thing, you know, which also like a lot of people don't like to yeah. Also a lot of people don't like to call attention to, right?

Alex:

I find that one very awkward personally. It puts you at the top of, you know, it pins your icon, your

Peter:

I do find that awkward too. Yeah. Yeah. It, it everybody's fixated on, on that emoji, right?

Alex:

Right, right. Yeah. It really stands out and, and like something a little bit more subtle, I think flows the conversation. Well, it's like kind of asking, like, can I talk versus being like, excuse me, I have my megaphone

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, and I also find like introverted people actually use the chat more now where they'll like, put the question in the chat and then like, as the person who's leading the conversation, you have to say,"Hey, I see Alex put a question in the chat. Alex, that's a really good question." Answer it. And then if there's a follow up to that, just say, is that what you meant when you asked that question, Alex? Right. And so I think those types of, you know, picking up on people's communication styles is really important in a virtual world. And sometimes it's not verbal and sometimes it's not visual,

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

sometimes people don't like to turn their camera on and, you know, oftentimes you, you find people having to explain why they don't want to turn their camera. So you have to be accommodating of that. Right. And, and,

Alex:

Isn't that the real power move. You, you go into the call, you keep your camera off and you unmute and you just stay off of mute.

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah. It, it is. Yeah. I've gotten used to it though, you know, and I just keep my camera on, you know, and, and, and sometimes, you know what, when the other side says,"Hey, I'm gonna keep my camera off because I'm sick" or whatever the excuse is, or my camera's not working. Right. And probably half the time that's a lie; they just don't want to turn the camera on. you know, your, your job is to say, oh, that that's totally fine. I'm gonna keep my camera on unless you want me to turn it.

Alex:

mm-hmm

Peter:

Because it's an opportunity for me as a seller to show my emotions and like how I'm engaging. Right. And even if the other person doesn't have their camera on, I can still, you know, emit and convey, you know, emotion and excitement and all that. Right.

Alex:

Yeah, it's kind of funny that we're talking about this as, uh, folks who are doing our first ever video podcast.

Peter:

I know I know, right. We should do this more. Right. Because people maybe can tell how excited we are that we're

Alex:

Wait, wait until we get to the editing phase. then we're gonna totally regret this.

Peter:

Yeah.

Alex:

well, so I, I really like what, you're, what you're pointing out, that there's all of this rich to. Kind of paraphrase a little bit. There's all this richness that we get in a remote setting that we actually don't get in real life. And I, and I gotta say, like, speaking. Kind of an introvert. Like I love the fact that it's kind of more explicit and also that we're all figuring it out together rather than millions and millions of years of evolution programming. Some people to be like insanely good at understanding body language. And then some people are like, not as good. It's like everyone's at a level playing field now and that's kind of, kind of nice actually.

Peter:

Yeah, I was gonna say, yeah, everybody's on a level playing field and, um, you know, there's less pressure around like dressing like a certain way too. I would say, you know,

Alex:

I

Peter:

did

Alex:

dress for this. I brought, I

Peter:

Yeah,

Alex:

a turtleneck for this.

Peter:

It, it looks, it looks, yeah, very Steve jobs que I

Alex:

you. Yeah.

Peter:

it. It's very fitting.

Alex:

an iphone to sell You.

Peter:

It's very fitting. Um, but you know, I would never walk into a client meeting in a t-shirt and I'm in a t-shirt right now and it looks fine, hopefully. Right.

Alex:

I I'm I'm I'm I'm I'm kind of insulted right now. Are you saying that our listeners are not our customers?

Peter:

No, it's, it's a very. This is a very nice t-shirt though. This is an expensive t-shirt

Alex:

oh, you're you're the person that McLemore talks about in thrift shop, like those$50 t-shirts and he is like, don't buy that. I

Peter:

Yeah. So something like that, something like that. Um, you know, and yeah, it's it, it makes you focus more on the verbal and like the delivery because like people can focus on this box. Right. And I know that's kind of counter to what I said at the beginning. I said, there's a lot of distractions with screens all around you, but there is also this, like this sense of being able to focus on what, like you said, like a level playing field and everybody is, you know, has the same podium.

Alex:

Mm-hmm

Peter:

you know? So yeah. I, I agree with that.

Alex:

you don't have the big boss kind of like taking up all the space

Peter:

Yeah.

Alex:

and those other like vibes. I, it was just something I'm curious about, like, It seems to me that you sort of have a compressed level of energy, like an energy range that you can get over video. Like in person you can really, really low energy to really high energy, to like super like power Posey, powerful space taking up and like kind of sponsored up. I I'm curious how that dynamic, how you think about that dynamic, both in person and, and like how that translates into zoom.

Peter:

Yeah, that's a great question. So I, yeah, I do agree. That's an interesting thought that there's this compressed energy range. Because you're right: in person you could use your hand motions more and that's more apparent virtually. Like you can still do that, but it's probably doesn't have the same effect. Uh, what I find myself doing is to create that range is to create that range with like topic breath, if that makes any sense. So, um, I'll give you an example, you know, oftentimes when you're on a virtual meeting, there's like a talk track that people are trained to give. Right. And we talked about this in previous episodes too. You want to be able to stay on topic. You give the pitch, you have like, you know, your agenda. And a lot of people struggle with going outside of it. What I like to do is I like to have one or two topic areas or one or two instances, or maybe even more, if it's a really exciting conversation where we go off path a few times. Right. And that can be like on, on the topic of what you're selling. And you just say,"Hey, I know this isn't on the slide, but by the way, like where this is going is X, Y, and Z," or"Hey Alex, what you mentioned there is really interesting. I actually, wasn't gonna talk about this, but now that you mention it, I do actually want to talk about infrastructure as code and like our roadmap there, cuz that's actually one of our big focus areas."

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

You'll see this in the product, but I'll just tell you like a few exciting use cases that I've come across in the last few days. Just yesterday, I was talking to a customer. You see what I'm saying? Like all of a sudden, like that is like, you know, you're kind of like creating the, creating this range of, um, you're broadening your guardrails or guidelines.

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

To keep the person engaged. So I think it's a lot about, you know, it's, it's a lot about topic, variety and topic flexibility.

Alex:

Hmm.

Peter:

that I think you can create a lot of energy. Right. And I've, and I've seen that happen and I purposely do that and I train my reps to think about that too. It's not about how well you can follow the script. It's about how well you can offroad from the script. Right.

Alex:

So, so, so kinda what you're saying, if I'm I'm following along properly is in a physical environment, you can maybe stay a little bit more on script because you can bring a lot of the change and the energy that's that comes from change just through the physical presence. Whereas in a virtual environment, you now have to use this other lever that you have which is the text, the content and you make it more interesting and more dynamic. And, you know, I've heard you use that phrase offroading a few times in the podcast now. I really like it. I think it's so descriptive of what, what a salesperson needs to be ready to do. And yeah, that, that really resonates actually.

Peter:

Yeah. And you know what, actually, now that I'm like thinking about it a little bit more in person, you can still offroad, but that usually happens when you're setting up your monitor in the room. Right. Or when you're in the elevator with your client and you have to make something up. Right. Cuz you don't have a presentation to look at or like after the presentation's over, you like loosen up a little bit and you're like, okay, so where are we going to dinner, you know? And so you kind of there's natural physical space to create that. But you need to create that in a virtual world. And the question is how, right? And so I think that's like where the art of virtual selling is, is like, how can you, when you know, you have a virtual box to sell in, how can you create those elevator moments? Right? How can you create those lobby moments? How can you create those dinner moments that you don't otherwise get. And that's what I mean is like, even when it's about the product, usually like you start talking about roadmap and vision over drinks, you get a little bit more comfortable and you're like, and this is where we're really headed. Right. And, and it's like, you know, I didn't tell you this in the board meeting, you know, because like, this is like next gen stuff that we're working on, but, you know, and like, you

Alex:

Uh, So I see this is where you give away all the, the roadmaps that engineering tells you not to tell people about.

Peter:

Yeah, like kind of like the under the hood stuff. Right. I mean, luckily like we're all aligned on the eng and product side, you know, like most of the time, but, you know yeah. Like kind of giving the customer the behind the curtain look. You know, if you can do that in a pitch and you can create those topics that are like really energizing exciting and a little bit different than the scripted version. Like I think you really are ahead of the game in, in a virtual sales arena, you know?

Alex:

I really like that. And you know, this, this idea of kind of creating, I love the, the lobby moment, really great way to, to put that

Peter:

Yeah. And actually funny enough Salesroom or sponsor, they have a virtual lobby actually.

Alex:

Oh, Nice.

Peter:

Where you can like queue up your like own Spotify playlist, but you know, like

Alex:

That gives you like some hooks.

Peter:

Yeah, exactly. You can like, and then, you know, that gives you a conversation point, like in the meeting a memorable thing. Right. And so like, there are these like, and even without that, you need to be really like naturally good at creating those moments. Cuz those like highlight moments are oftentimes what buyers take away from through your engagements, right? It's not necessarily like the features. Exactly. It's like the feeling of what it felt like to be on the call with you and being able to carry on like, you know, topics of conversation that build rapport and relationships, right.

Alex:

You know, as we're speaking about this, one of the things we've talked about in the past, one of our episodes is on kinda getting dinners with clients. Obviously you're not gonna sit there and resume and have like a dinner, everyone sadly eating in front of their monitor with, you know, their business counterpart. That's like a real dystopia. Um, but I'm curious, what's replaced that.

Peter:

Yeah, I think, um, I think what's replaced that is just being able to reference your personal life, you know, and not being afraid to reference that. And so, you know, oftentimes when I take clients to dinner, it's an opportunity to show them my culture. So I think there's an episode about this, where I'd rather take people to a Korean barbecue restaurant than a steakhouse right.

Alex:

I remember

Peter:

fun. Right. I'd rather go to like KTown karaoke than, you know, whatever, like Irish bar, like everybody wants to go to. Right. So, um, I think like you still can reference things, you know, in short bursts and still build relationships that way. I often find myself, you know, like talking about the meal I had yesterday, or, you know, talking about my kids. If I notice somebody with the background, with like, you know, kid drawings in, in the back, you know, which has happened before, I'll ask like,"oh, do you have kids? You know, it looks like you have kids." Um, you know, there's a lot of pet conversations because a lot of pets come into view. So I think still being able to reference your life and not just like what's working well, but what's also difficult. Like I think builds camaraderie, you know, with parents it's really difficult in COVID times to figure out logistics when you have, you know, a classroom with an exposure, all of a sudden, you're a week with like a toddler, like next to you on all your zoom calls and you know, that instantly bond bonds people, you know, if you're parents. Um, if you're, you know, from a specific city and I've been to like,

Alex:

Shared suffering.

Peter:

Yeah, I've been to Des Moines, Iowa. And I remember in Des Moines, Iowa, like I had the best steak of my life. So if somebody's in Iowa, you know, I might talk about that steak you know, and like, it's still talking about some of the same things, but in like a compressed way where you could still say,"Hey, like I know you're a human and we're still talking about human things," you know?

Alex:

Totally. Yeah, I really like that. And it reminds me that this remote world really does bring people's personal lives into this, into the film.

Peter:

Yeah, it really does. Yeah.

Alex:

and, and So, so it helps in a way with that. Right? All the moments are lobby moments, cuz you're always in somebody's, you know, lobby or their house, their bedroom.

Peter:

Yeah. yeah, sometimes. Sometimes.

Alex:

you know,

Peter:

Yeah. And, and all these are recorded. A lot of these calls are recorded actually. Now that's the new norm, right? In virtual sales, you know, you have companies like Gong and Salesroom and Chorus, all these companies where you record the call. And so it, it, it in it, um, it allows for interesting coaching moments

Alex:

Mm-hmm

Peter:

on, you know, the offroading topic and around the rapport building know, like you can even comment on like,"Hey, like, Hey Alex, that was actually a really special thing that you did. Like, you know, building that rapport in the beginning of the call." Right. And I like calling those things out because those are, those are important to be coached too. And sellers need to understand they have, they're empowered to make the space for that as well. And that you, you know, you don't just have to be a rule or script follower.

Alex:

well, you know, I'd love to, to, to dive in a little bit more on that area actually. Cause I, I think one of the things you mentioned, this idea that tools like Salesroom, or are gong or others can, can record the conversation and, and you can learn from, it seems like such a, a powerful direction. And I'm curious what you see as the. The future of, of these kinds of tools.

Peter:

Yeah, I think the future of these tools is, um, the first thing I already mentioned, right, being able to coach on soft skills a lot more easily and a lot more, um, surgically I should say, which is like an amazing opportunity. You can actually like retrospectively look at what you're doing to build the relationship. You know, EQ like analysis hasn't really been done a lot in sales. I would say you just kind of hear about these people who are amazingly effective at running a, a, a presentation or like directing a room. Right. So I think there's a lot of coaching opportunities. I also think there's a lot of opportunities to actually make the sales process a lot more efficient because through a one hour meeting recording, Like, and I'm gonna talk about Salesroom again, I think there's other platforms that could potentially do this, but you can now create highlight reels of that meeting and be able to actually take that content, that video content and send it to multiple stakeholders at the company without ever meeting them. Right. I think that's like a really powerful concept because, you know, from a, the thought of taking an hour meeting and creating a one minute highlight reel of all the most important elements of that meeting. Super efficient. First of all, and then allows you as a seller to resell the meeting, Especially because you said in the beginning, it's extremely exhausting. It is exhausting. So why not take an exhausting meeting that you prepped hours for and turn it into a highlight reel, right? I think that's like a really interesting thing. I'll tell you a really funny, I think I actually told you this story about, um, me at a karaoke bar and there's a video recording of me singing Gangnam style like at a karaoke bar. And that video at one of my prospects got circulated to like 40 or 50 people at this, at this multi, you know, like, what do you call it? It's like multinational media conglomerate. Let's say I won't mention which

Alex:

You're lucky you haven't ended up on TV or

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah, I know. Right. I mean, it was like very low. This was probably like 2013, very low quality video. But the procurement guy, the day after was like, Hey, your video was a hit at my company. So it's like, that's kind of like a funny example. But what if you have like, such an amazing meeting, right, like boiler room style or Glen Gary, Glen Ross style. Right. What if you have such an amazing meeting that you just want to like that, that, that even the buyer wants to replay it in front of their colleagues. But that's really exciting to me. Because there's so many moments in my sales career where I'm like, I remember what I said at that point in time in that room. And like, I felt like that was when I won the deal.

Alex:

You

Peter:

what, if you, yeah. Yeah. So

Alex:

I just wanna point out that the other nice thing about this. Uh, is you get to choose the highlight reel. I

Peter:

yeah, exactly. Yeah. You get to choose it. Yeah. You.

Alex:

can decide whether you want your karaoke, singing to, to be on there or not. Uh, so you, you get a little bit of a personal curation, I think as

Peter:

Yeah. And then you can cut out the stuff that's boring, right. Or where you felt like you were like rambling or whatever it is. So I think it's like an extremely powerful concept. I think that's where these tools are headed, is taking live game tape,

Alex:

Mm. Mm-hmm

Peter:

being able to turn it into something usable when a lot of like call recordings right now are stuck in archives.

Alex:

You're you're going from the high school football on like public access TV to, you know, Fox NFL, Sunday quality. And, it's a huge difference. You get

Peter:

Yeah, exactly.

Alex:

replay with the telestrator and maybe not John Madden or whatever, but you know, maybe you could, you could even voiceover the, like the voiceover sometimes

Peter:

Totally. And I think that's coming, you know, I think like there's gonna be like clips where maybe you and I even like judge the clip and we're like, oh boy, this salesperson's talking way too much.

Alex:

thumbs down.

Peter:

You know, or like, oh wow, this guy really hit, hit him with the strip line phrase.

Alex:

Well, well, that's actually, you know, you talk about talking too much, but I do feel like one of the cool things that, um, I've seen from Salesroom and I think is really, probably only possible in a virtual environment is this idea of like actually measuring airtime. And especially if you can do something like that in real time, that seems like a really powerful way to course correct. Because if you're talking too much, probably you've misaligned the energy in that room.

Peter:

Totally. Yes. Yes. I love that feature actually, where it like periodically pops up. Hey, you've been speaking 43% of the time, which is great, actually, cuz you're speaking less than the other side. Right. Um, this conversation is probably way too heavily weighted towards me,

Alex:

yeah, you always talk too much Peter, but I think that's the point.

Peter:

Different yeah. Diff different scenario, but yeah, the, those cue cards are awesome. Also, like not only talk time, but detecting when you interrupt people too much. Right. In real time, like that doesn't really happen today.

Alex:

mm-hmm

Peter:

Also detecting, you know, um, questions that come up and like actually showing it in a transcript view.

Alex:

I.

Peter:

So the person doesn't have to actually put it into the chat. Right? So like these things I think are really powerful

Alex:

This needs like a name, you know, like a category name, like augmented selling or augmented EQ. I, I don't know. I'm not a marketer, but it just, it feels like there's something here that like broadly is similar to augmented reality in terms of the ability to see the world through this new lens. Except augmented reality is really weird, cuz you're walking around with like glasses, but here it's actually already on your computer. So like, yeah, you might as well just use it and takes like advantage of this heads up display that you have.

Peter:

You know, I also think about like, you know, can I have like a list of questions I want to go through that pops up, right. And every time I tick through the questions, it automatically crosses it off. Right. And can I bank that somewhere right. Automatically without having to physically put it somewhere,

Alex:

mm-hmm, it'd be pretty cool. If it could detect when you're offroading. I know that's like pretty advanced, but

Peter:

yeah. It

Alex:

the

Peter:

awesome.

Alex:

To sort of like, help, you know, when you need to like take the, get back on track could be

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that technology is definitely there. Right. And I'd, I'd love to.

Alex:

Mm-hmm

Peter:

See that kind of data to see like, okay, how many of my reps are offboarding or offroading? I should say, how many of my reps, um, are utilizing the dramatic pause? You know, like what's the interaction rate? How are you ping ponging back and forth? You know, Gong has that, but it's like, can you actually see that in real time?

Alex:

Yeah, that to me, that feels like the big differentiator is the real time. And the more you can move into real time, the better.

Peter:

Yeah. Agree. Agree. Completely agree.

Alex:

Well, Peter, I feel like we've just covered so much in this episode. And I just, I wanna pause momentarily and create a little space for you. You know, you've been doing a lot of virtual selling. You think it's here. I know you think it's here to stay and you've seen a lot of the power. You've seen a lot of the challenges. What is the one feature you really wish you had?

Peter:

That is such a great question. The one feature I wish I had, Ooh, that's a tough one. Let me, let me think about it for like 30 more seconds. There's so many of'em, to be honest with you. Um, I'll, I'll say as a sales leader, the, the one feature I wish I had is being able to have a virtual Salesroom a virtual platform that automatically helps map out and progress the deal in my CRM without any manual intervention. And like, for me to get that information through like timelines or reports, right, because there's too much right now that relies on sales reps having great CRM hygiene. And for me, I know there's a lot of gold happening in virtual rooms that I'm not a part of. So I, guess it's like a feature set like this, like it's like this like timeline view of all the deals that close like this, this quarter, you know, let's say like we've closed a hundred deals. I'd love a hundred timelines, honestly, all analyzed against each other around like, calls and like emails and slack messages and sentiment analysis, you know, and there's like various tools that have elements of this, but there's not really one that I really like love and lean into, you know? And, and why is that like really interesting to me is because also, like I'm huge on educating the company on sales. If I could take a deal, an enterprise deal that took three months and condense it into a visual timeline with like these milestone spikes that goes into like the story of the deal. That's, that's powerful. Right? And so that's something I'm looking for is cuz like every deal is a story and you know, one of our main investors is Jeffrey Katzenberg, amazing storyteller. Obviously like if you're behind creating like the Lion King and Aladdin, like you have to be able to capture the audience. And that's, I think about that in the sales context is how do you like capture and exceed the expectations of your audience and your audience is not only your buyers, but it's also the people that are in your company. That want to be educated about sales. It's your team that wants to be inspired by sales. Right. And it's, you know, people like our listeners who wanna learn about sales. So yeah.

Alex:

And, you know, I think that first of all, that sounds like a really awesome feature. And I think what you're kind of getting at just to maybe tie it all together is this idea that you could probably collect that data in real time with some smart assist features,

Peter:

Yeah. Yeah, I think so. You know, you could, you could, you could, you could collect deal risk from calls,

Alex:

yeah, you could probably estimate it based on air time and, and these other features.

Peter:

Yes.

Alex:

And if you're you have that roadmap, you know, like sales, we talked about, Salesroom having the roadmap of questions you could easily imagine integrating you know, a point where you then like, assess what the next step in the deal is gonna be. For example, uh, from, from that. Seems super powerful. I'm in.

Peter:

Extremely awesome. I'm I'm glad. Yeah. So am I, I wish I had it, you know, cause yeah, you're right. The data's out there and forecasting, you know, you're forced to put forecasting into four or five buckets, right. And you're reliant on the reps and managers to be like, this deal has a 10% chance of closing, but there's data out there that can inform that in an automatic fashion while still telling an amazing story about the deal.

Alex:

Wow. Well, sounds like you got your, uh, investment thesis.

Peter:

Yeah,

Alex:

All right. Well, Peter, I think maybe we should wrap In, in closing, I wanna say, first of all, to our listeners, thank you as always, and especially for journeying with us on our first ever video episode, as always, we would love to hear from you. We are podcasters@decodingsalespodcast.com. And finally we wanna give a final, big, big shout out to our friends at Salesroom dot com. They are looking for your signups. They are the only platform that has been video conferencing platform that has built from the ground up to help you break through as a salesperson in amid all the noise that is out there. So please go check them out. Salesroom dot com. And like us spread the word. Help us get the word out too.