ZoomInfo’s podcast, “Pretty Big Deal,” shares big stories from salespeople about the deals that shaped their careers. Launched just over a month ago, we’ve already learned some pretty important lessons. As we round out the year, here are four compelling takeaways to help improve the way you sell.
1. Leverage Relationships
In episode one, Bryan Tunick, a ZoomInfo sales manager, had to think quickly when a pretty fantastic deal nearly turned into a 90% discount. The prospect’s procurement team was pushing for a massive price cut that would have really hurt the small startup Tunick was working for at the time. Rather than giving in or getting frustrated, he reached out to the person who had championed the sale from the beginning — he’d built a good relationship with this person and knew they wanted to see the deal close as much as he did. Eventually, they were able to talk through a deal that both sides were comfortable with.
Tunick stresses the importance of building real partnerships with prospects and why you should approach sales with the intent of building relationships, rather than playing games.
“I think we have to be willing to accept that it’s entirely possible that both sides are playing a game,” Tunick says. “You have to get to a level where you can cut through and find mutually beneficial terms in a transparent conversation where no one’s playing games. That’s where you form real partnerships.”
2. Integrity is Your Anchor
In episode two, Susan Killen, an account manager at ZoomInfo, talks about a sale that almost wasn’t. She met with a team that didn’t have the proper infrastructure or internal support to have success with the service she was offering. Even though she knew it would likely cost her the sale, she told them the service wasn’t the right fit unless they were willing to undergo some pretty hefty changes.
“Everybody has got their own approach. My approach is anchored on integrity,” Killen says. “I absolutely will not and cannot sell you stuff that you can’t use, and that’s just always been my nature.”
Killen’s honesty with the prospects ultimately won her their trust, as well as an $85,000 sale. The team made the changes she suggested and the project was a success. Killen’s advice to salespeople is to create and harness trust with your clients, and make sure you’re thinking about their success over your own.
“If you’re trying to choose between your own well-being or the customer’s well-being, you should always choose their well-being. Because the customer’s well-being is your well-being,” she says.
3. Take Every Opportunity Seriously
The third episode features Chris Hays, COO and president at ZoomInfo. As a self-proclaimed introvert, he’s not what you’d think of as the typical salesperson, and his story is far from ordinary. He describes a sale from when he was in field sales for a phone system company. He had to really sell the technological benefits of his service to the CIO and CFO of a supply company. The deal began at about $10,000, but grew to over $800,000 — the biggest deal at that point in his career. More importantly, Hays met his wife through the transaction. He explains that had he not taken the opportunity seriously, he might have lost a lot more than just the sale.
“This started off with just a tiny phone system in some podunk county. I showed up and treated it like it was a $600,000 deal, and I think that made all the difference,” Hays says. “If I had showed up and just given her a quote, I probably would’ve gotten a $10,000 transaction out of it, but I would’ve obviously lost a lot — I might have lost my wife.”
4. Ensure Alignment and Build Trust
In episode four, Kevin Knieriem, the CRO at Clari, describes a sale that required him to spend over 40 hours straight in a windowless meeting room negotiating the deal. There were trust issues on both sides, and building up trust was paramount to landing the deal. He also explains that internal politics were creating obstacles in the sales process, adding more tension to the equation.
Knieriem shares one of his biggest takeaways: the importance of internal alignment on the customer needs when pursuing deals.
“It’s all in service of doing what’s right for the customer, not what’s right for the company that’s selling the solution,” Knieriem says. “So it’s asking the customer how they want to be supported, and making sure your teams are aligned to deliver what’s best for the customer.”
Being a great salesperson requires you to be amenable, trustworthy, and persistent. Through deals big and small, you can build and leverage great relationships to secure meaningful wins for your business.