Bob Moesta: Demand-Side Sales 101

Should you rethink your sales process from the buyer’s perspective?*

For most of us, sales means reciting features, benefits, pressuring customers into purchasing. Selling feels icky. It’s not our fault – that’s how most selling is done. There’s a better way. Bob Moesta has taken Jobs-to-be-Done theory and flipped it to apply it to sales.

Before giving this talk Bob asked, “Why are there no sales professors?”.  There are lots of practices but really no underlying theory. We need to learn how to think like a salesperson.

In this talk, delivered at the end of BoS USA Online, Bob talks about how to help people to buy, without selling. He takes us through the six steps of a customers journey from ‘first thought’ to ‘on-going use and building habits’. Knowing this journey can help you to position your product differently and help your customers buy.

* Of course, the answer is ‘yes’.

Slides

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Transcript

Bob Moesta 

Get ready, here we go. Start this. Here we go, bam, we can see that. Alright, so I want to talk about this book that I wrote that to be honest, I never thought I’d ever write a book about sales. The reality is, I’m an engineer, I’ve electrical, undergrad and mechanical and chemical masters. I’ve been breaking stuff for 50 years, I’ve been fixing stuff for 45 years. But I’ve been building stuff for 30 years. And as Mark says, I’m known for jobs to be done, and basically having building that methodology and theory with Clay Christensen. But I’m from Detroit. And I’ve worked on over 3500 different products, everything from, you know, the radar absorbing material for self bomber, to put them on mac and cheese to Basecamp. And just about everything in between. And one of the things that I realised over the years is I start like, so COVID hit, one of the things that I started to actually start to think about is like, what is the most I’ve done seven startups. And as I did it, what’s the most struggling the thing I struggle with the most? And it always turned out to be sales, sales is just like so hard. And so I started to just die that used to pull that thread, right. So the reality is, is that my very first job selling was my second startup, which was basically a countertop business in Detroit, Michigan here, where we basically built solid surface countertops, and we sold them to mostly small kitchen bath stores and and we had an underlying new technology that we were taking to market. And so they wanted me to take it to Home Depot. I’m an engineer, I had no idea how to sell. So I figured, like, how hard can that be? Alright, and so part of it was the fact that I was really interested in the technology and I felt if I just knew the product, I could sell it. Right? And so I start to think about like, how do I go sell? Well, the first thing you got to do is get a funnel, right? And then you got to figure out how to like, quote it. And then I got to actually figure out what my what my, you know, my colour schemes were, and what are my features and benefits, and then I walk into Home Depot, and I sell them and I sell them and they buy. And at the same time I feel really achy, I feel like the pit of my stomach is literally like all of a sudden, like, well, everybody needs a countertop, I gotta sell that. Everybody’s a prospect, oh my gosh. And it just got worse and like so we’d sell it to the buyer. And then we had to go down and sell to each store. And then you constantly said, and it just felt like I was pushing. It was literally I wasn’t even listening to them. But I was just spouting features and benefits. And it literally felt horrible. And at some point in time, one of my colleagues came over to me and said, you know, you’re not doing this, right? And I’m like, What do you mean? So his name was Bob Erickson, he was his huge man. He was about six foot 10, six foot 11 300 pounds. He was a he was a lineman for the 40 Niners and he he basically said, Look, you got to stop, you know, trying to sell and just help them by like,

What do you mean help them by? like it like they gotta know my stuff to buy, right? He goes, No, no, you don’t understand their situation. So you gotta, you gotta listen. Shut up. And listen, Mike, okay, he goes in when they say things, unpack it. Does that mean it goes? Well, they’re gonna say that they want it to be stylish. But you got to actually say, what does that mean? What stylish, what’s not stylish. And at the same time, you got to basically observe, because what people say and what people do are different, which is all the things I knew from jobs to be done and building product. But the fact is, is for some reason, I didn’t connect sales and jobs as the same thing. Again, I’m not the smartest tool or surface tool in the shed. So the reality is, what I did is I actually went and then I got my team, my sales team to go and really work at Home Depot on the weekends. So we actually would go and quote kitchens or work with the Home Depot associates and quote kitchens. And what we found was it was a mess. Like not only did customers not know what they wanted, and and the Home Depot just didn’t know how to quote it. It was just this whole, just it like it was so hard to actually get your kitchen fixed or get your bathroom fixed. It was it’s the craziest process in the world. But by observing and looking at it, we actually learned a tonne. And there’s three things we actually learned that helped us scale the business.

One was we actually made the coding process easy. Everybody else, quote process had to go out and be measured and do all these different things that it was like, and everybody was worried about actually, you know if there was a problem, and what we ended up doing is actually designing it that it was one page three steps. And if it was a problem, we had enough slush in it, that we’d actually be able to cover it and it would force us to actually be better at instal right. The second thing is actually limited the colours which was interesting because most people said they wanted more colours, but the reality is more colours made it harder to choose. And so what we went down to from 64 colours to 12 colours, and just had made sure that they were all different colours. They could actually eliminate the colours they didn’t want and choose the colours they wanted easier. And the last thing basically took it the samples everybody had These little small samples of the countertop and they put them next to the, the large doors, right? And they basically those were one by one. And I said, if we made ours bigger, you can actually see and understand a little bit more about it. So it just made the samples twice as big. It turns out four times as big, but it’s two by twos, right? But the reality what happened was, we grew the business from 500,000 to 20 million in 18 months. Right? The downside of it is that we, again, I was the sales guy, and it was about selling and all they kept doing is telling me to sell we were a private equity back then as we’re building it, going and going and going. We basically ran out of resources. So it ended up being acquired by basically Home Depot’s largest supplier Mills pride. But the reality is I learned about this whole aspect of listening to customers like I knew this from jobs before because I’ve been doing jobs almost 10 years before that. But the reality is, is like connecting sales. It was there, but I pretty much forgot about it right? Fast forward the fact this is I’ve done for other startups since then, or five other startups and I realised that sales is the hardest thing to do. So I was lucky enough to have four hours, a quarter for 27 years with this man. He’s one of my one of my mentors. He’s basically a good friend he passed away in January. But at one point, about 10 years ago, we had the conversation I said, why are there no sales professors at Harvard? He goes, that’s a really good question. And once we started to actually investigate it, and you start to realise, like, as you go through it, there’s there’s actually very 10 years ago, there were virtually no sales professionals anywhere they bring the lawyers in to teach negotiations, they bring the HR people to talk about compensation packages, the way to compensate sales, but there was no sales professors. And it would be like it would be if anything will be sales management in terms of very high, but it wouldn’t be about how to sell. And you start to realise like you go to the startup community, and they teach you how to raise money, and they teach you how to build a business plan and do a business model canvas and do positioning. But nobody teaches you how to sell. It’s literally the most uncomfortable thing in the world. And so the conclusion that clay and I came to as part of it is, is that there’s really a lot of practice people lot a lot of techniques. It’s all about the product and techniques and closing techniques. And there’s really no theory. And so schools don’t teach, like techniques, they teach theory. And so part of this one as well, how do I actually start to have people actually get introduced to, to sales in a different way than selling? And so I took jobs theory, and I literally said, Well, how do we apply that to actually selling? And so that’s what I did.

The interesting part is that I think that Peter Drucker who’s like the, I’ll say the, the inventor of modern management basically said it a long time ago, right? Is this as much as companies really want to think they know the customer, they pretty much don’t, and why customers buy and what we sell are actually not the same thing. And so all of a sudden is like that’s the thread that we pulled, right? And so here’s, here’s a perfect example of it. I’ve got four kids, right? Four kids and five years, to be honest, they’re all very close. And I’m a terrible camera, a picture taker, just horrible. And so it’s like, as my kids are growing like, I need a better camera. So what do I do? I go to Canon, though, that make the best cameras normal. First thing they do is they start to educate me about all the features about the camera, an F stop, you know, shutter speed, pixel size, like lenses, like just all the stuff I have to learn. And then what they do is they convince me between different competitors, like, Oh, I didn’t even know Sony made cameras, I should be looking at maybe a Sony camera. And then I realised they can take all the pictures, but I can’t actually process them, I have to use software to that. So I have to get Photoshop and then have to learn Photoshop. And so all this stuff ends up like like at some point for me to take good pictures of my kids, I gotta learn all this other stuff. And oh, by the way, spent a lot of money. So the reality is, is like, and I didn’t want to learn any of that I just wanted a picture a clearer picture of my kids playing soccer. Right? And so here’s the thing is, there’s this wall between what I call the supply side of the world, which is canon, and the demand side of the world, which is me trying to take a picture. And if you fast forward, you start to realise like somebody who actually understands the demand side what I’m struggling with what I want to do, it actually made way easier. What an apple do, they literally put a camera in the phone. How many people want to take a picture go home kind of wish I had the camera today. Right? And so all of a sudden we started realise having a camera and something else you already had, even though it was worse quality than the you know, the Canon camera had it was like it was better than nothing. Right? The second is they actually integrated the software to it right? So you start to realise the fact this is at some point the reason why why you know Apple won this is because they looked at it from the demand side of the world and they literally wanted to make me a great photographer. versus the fact is, is that what what can one? Do they want to build a great camera? And so part of this is to understand how do we actually go after it understand this demand side differently than the supply side? Right? What happened is, as you can imagine, I mean, we all know the story is that the number of photos taken every year is basically, you know, exponential, it’s, I think it was 1.2 trillion pictures were taken last year, ridiculous and cameras went away. And the reality is, how is this is because lots of times companies end up focusing on selling their product and talking about the features and benefits of the product. And to be honest, I’m more worried about competition, then the consumer or the customer trying to do it. Right. So here’s the two perspectives that really lay out the the foundation of kind of how I think about sales now, right, which is there’s this supply side, which is where there’s a company, and we have, we create a product, and we see everything through the world through the product, we define our customers through the product, right. But there’s this other side, which is the demand side, which is where people struggle and where they actually pull things into their lives. And it could be a camera, but it could be a whole bunch of other things as well. And there’s this wall in between. And this wall is a very thick, concrete wall that’s very high that we peer over. And we can only see parts of both the consumer can only see parts of the product world and the product world can only see parts of the consumer, right? I grew up in the supply side of the world, I was taught that if I just built the best product, people would buy it, build it, they will come right. And what I would do is I build that product. And I’d bag defining features and benefits. And I try to identify the problems that consumers have. But I have to peek over that wall, right. And as they peek over that wall, I’d say, Well, here’s the market that I’m going after, here’s the segments. Here’s the personas, here’s the here’s the prospect, here’s a here’s the lead, right, and it’s all correlation in nature. And what I realised is that at some point in time, I would either build it to the point where it’s a great product, but nobody would buy it, or people would buy it, but then they wouldn’t use it. And so part of this is is I had to actually understand the demand side. So when you switch to the demand side, it actually behaves very, very differently. It all starts with a struggling moment, here’s the thing is demand is actually created by a struggling moment. It’s not created by supply as economist wants to believe. But I can actually be struggling and not have fulfilled for many years. And then all of a sudden have something come in and fulfil it. When people struggle, that’s when they want to switch. That’s when they want to make progress. And so demand has to be seen from that perspective. And so the way that the demand side works is typically we’re creatures of habit, we just do what we do over and over again, until one of two things happens.

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One is, we know that there’s a better way or

Two, the fact is, is what we’re doing just doesn’t work anymore. And that certainly moment comes with context and a reference point. I think April said it best, like they can be using Excel, and you’re trying to sell it against, you know, basically some Microsoft product or some, you know, IBM product. And the reality is like, they’re not even the same atmosphere. And so part of this is to actually understand where do people, you know, where are people coming from, and then when they’re deciding to change, there’s this aspect of new desired outcomes. And it’s both sides of that problem that so we’re going to talk about the problem they have that pushed them to it. But there’s also a problem about the outcome that they want to get. And they’re usually talked about in different ways. I call them asymmetrical ways. Right, and we’ll talk a little bit about that later. But finally, they get to candidates. And then ultimately, they have to have higher and fire criteria, why they pick it. And ultimately, the consumer, you end up making decisions, where you have to make trade offs. You never have everything you want, ever. And so as much as we make trade offs on the product side, the consumer is always making trade offs on their side. And so it’s understanding that side first, that then helps us understand, to fit to figure it out. Right. And ultimately, they look over that wall to say, You know what, boy, I can’t take pictures, what camera should I buy? And ultimately, there’s a whole process on the supplies that I have to learn in order to actually make the progress I want. So my thing is, is that sales should be based on the foundation of the demand side, right? How do people buy, right? So the name of the book is demand side sales, and it’s like stop selling, and start helping your customers make progress. And it’s this notion of understanding the progress they’re trying to meet actually helps you understand how the features and benefits connect to their lives. And a lot of times, we end up talking about features and benefits that they don’t understand at all, and they don’t really care, right? Or we actually tell them too much where they want to discount.

So ultimately, here’s the key difference is, is the reference point when we talk about sales is always the product. Everything is looked at through the product, when we build the product and it said Who would buy the product? When would they buy the product? Where would they buy the product? Everything comes from the product, right? But from the demand side it’s actually very Different, it comes from a different point of view, it comes from this aspect of trying to say, what progress are they trying to make? It’s not only who but it’s who, when, and where? And why, to then to how, what, how and how much. And so what you start to realise is these are the situations that people are in that cause it. So earlier, he was talking about the whole aspect of this company, where you know that at some point, they’re not a prospect, right, or that you can quote, disqualify them. And what I would say is, you can disqualify them, but when their context changes, they’ll come back. So part of it is to make sure that you understand where they are on their buying timeline, not just basically are they in Are they out? And so we’ll talk about that. Right? So ultimately, demand side sales is really focused on this whole aspect of redefining the reference point to who, when, where, and why, and not what, at some point in time, sometimes you’re, you’re the man who’s on the sandwich, and you’re not the sandwich, and you need to understand the entire progress. Somebody’s trying to make not just be the be the be the sandwich when when they don’t think of you as a sandwich. It’s a bad analogy, but it works. Right? So the reality is, we’re creatures of habit, I’ve said that already. And the thing is, is we don’t change unless there’s something going on something, something happening to us. So the way I look at it is questions create spaces in the brain for solutions to fall into if they don’t have a question, and they can’t, they’re struggling, you can talk to them all day, and they have nowhere to put that and it really bounces right off their head. Right? So the reality is, is that that you have to understand the struggling moments that cause people to get into this situation, right. And so the notion of jobs is that people don’t buy products, they hire them to make progress in their life. And by doing this, we actually start to to then look at the fact that like, there’s this circumstance they’re in, right? How did they get to this water’s edge? How did they get here? What is going on? It says, What is the reference point of where they’re coming from? What’s pushing them to say they need to actually move forward? At the same time, they can be at the water’s edge. And if they can’t see the other side, this is where people just kind of complain a lot, but they’ll do anything. The moment they can see the other side, it’s like, oh, I need to get there. So now they have a push in a poll. The reality is like, I want to understand what are they hoping for on the other side, think of it this way, if that’s a river, I can come up with 1000 ways to get across that river, I can teach them to swim, I can give a boat, I can actually teach them how to sail, I can actually build a tunnel, I can build a bridge I can I, on and on and on. But part of it is depending on the size and the magnitude of the struggle, and the reference point and the context that they’re in and the outcomes they seek. It can all actually has helps me shape the product and helps me sell the product. Right? So by understanding that first, that’s actually where I need to actually begin the sales process. Right.

So the second, there’s two key frameworks to us uncovering that one is these forces, right, we talked about the push of the situation, we talked about the poll of the new solution, we talked about the anxiety of the new solution, things that they’re worried about. And then we talked about the habits that they have to give up. And ultimately, we look at people trying to make progress as a system. And those forces have to line up where the top two forces have to actually be greater than the bottom two forces. So it’s one thing they can be pushed, and they could have pulled but there’s so much anxiety about what to do in the new space like, well, oh my gosh, so many people have to learn this. And it’s always totally new. And we don’t have the time that we’re really busy. Like, there’s a whole bunch of anxiety, how do you actually reduce anxiety as opposed to add more features, it’s a part of it is to use this framework to do it. But the more important framework is to actually understand the timeline. The craziest part about this is, it doesn’t matter if you’re actually buying a pack of gum, or a new cell phone, or some software or some CRM, or literally, to be able to switching churches, you follow the same process, there’s a first thought, right, there’s like, whatever you’re doing right now isn’t good enough. And that creates the space in the brain, for at least for you to start to think about it. And from that, you go to passive looking passive looking is where you’re learning, you actually don’t know what to do, but you’re going through life. But now that you have the space, the stuff kind of falls in it, right. And then something else happens that causes you to go to active looking where you have to either spend time, energy knowledge, learning something, to basically go figure out what you’re going to do, it’s big enough now that you have to do something about it. And then once you start to see possibilities, there’s the second part of deciding where you’ve got to make trade offs of what you’re really gonna do. Right? And then from that you lock in what quality is and what value is. And now it’s about basically how well do we deliver on which is basically consuming. And then from there, it’s ongoing use. So what I did is think it was the dominoes have to fall in order for people to get to your product.

The key here is this is not theoretical in terms of like idealistic. This is actually about understanding the real journey that people take, and the trade offs they’re willing to make. So this is has not happened in the conference room, this happens talking to consumers about progress they’re trying to make, right? Ultimately, let’s see, hold on what I want to be able to talk about, and I’m going to turn this into a system. But from the supply side, we have the sales funnel. But let’s be clear, nothing ever gets out of the funnel, a funnel, there’s only one direction, which is down, right? In the timeline, something can happen, I can actually go backwards, I can go from active looking or even deciding to say, Oh, well, something happened in the context, I’m back to passive looking. And so part of this is to understand where people are in the timeline. And so taking the timeline and breaking it into systems, what do people need to hear? What do people do? What do they say when they’re in each one of these things, and trying to get somebody from first thought to deciding doesn’t work? They have to go through basically each of the phases. Right? And so part of this is actually understanding kind of what happens at each one of these stages. Right? So let me let me just walk through quickly one first thought. So I’m sure there’s more. But I’ve only found four ways to create a first thought. Right? So one is to ask somebody a question. And oh, by the way, don’t answer it. Right? A lot of times, we ask a question, and then we answer right away. So like, for example, if that a lot of work in furniture, right? So so like, you know, do you need a new mattress? Now? The question has to be as like how well you sleep it? Do you feel exhausted? Right? And just part of it is the question creates that hole in the brain that also then makes the gut kind of ferment. Like that’s a really good, that’s not good. I know it’s not good, right? The other thing is to give them a new metric, right? Or tell them a story, or state the obvious, you know, how many bottles of Zico Are you going to have before you realise it might be the mattress? Right? Something along the lines of basically getting them down to start in the path? Passive looking, hasn’t looking is this aspect of framing the problem? In most cases, you know, I got April shot it was that love April. So April seventh the best, I think that they only have the language of the problem when they begin and most of them don’t actually understand. So when you feed them with a firehose about all your specifications, and everything you do, you’re actually assuming they’re smart. And so a lot of people actually drop out because they actually you don’t teach them or don’t help them learn what they need to do to one, reframe the problem or see the problem with reason, and start to think about the solution language. And if they can’t adopt the solution language, they can’t actually get there. And we forget about that. And oh, by the way, this is marketing and sales together working together to help consumers make progress. This is not marketing’s job or sales job, it’s both they need to work together to do it. Right. act of looking act of looking is this weird space that I actually really I get uncomfortable with, but at the same time, it’s, it’s like, it’s magic one day, it’s this notion of, hey, does this do this? Oh, it’d be great if it had that, Oh, my God, and there’s no connection between all of those things and price. And timing is like the you know, it’s just where people like, they’re, it’s almost like playground, right. And this is where basically people will actively look and they’ll they’ll start wishing for things. Oh, if I wish, I wish you had this feature, I wish to have that feature, right. And so part of this is we confuse that with what they really want. Right, which really comes in the next session, but part of it is here is to show them many different things. So they can see possibilities. But the big point is really to get them to deciding, deciding is where they have to make trade offs. Deciding is where they actually like to show people three things is really important. Because what happens is, when they have three things, the first thing they do is they eliminate one of the three, they don’t pick the one, they eliminate the one. And then what they do is they don’t compare the two that are left to each other, they compare the two that are left to the one that’s out. So they actually eliminate themselves to as to a solution. Right. And so part of this is to understand how people actually behave when they make decisions, and what are the trade offs that they have to make. Most people don’t want to frame the trade offs. But the reality is, is like if you don’t help them frame the trade offs. A lot of the time, they actually don’t make any decision, because they can’t actually they don’t understand how to make it. And so part of this is actually understanding how to make help them make the decision, help them make the trade offs, and how to lock in that satisfaction.

First use first use is critical. So I think the onboarding people actually have a lot of this right. But the fact is, is nobody’s connected, like the entire process together. But this is where you have to actually have people make feel like they’re making the progress that they’re doing. A lot of times people talk about progress as like, oh, in 10 months, you’ll be able to do this. But how do you know that you’re making progress towards that in the first week? What are the things that make them feel like they’re having progress? How do they know that they’re being successful, though? These are all the things that happen in first use. And then at some point, ongoing uses where all of a sudden new struggling moments happen, right? And that actually new struggling moments can actually cause you to actually go to the beginning of the process again and say like, oh, maybe I should be changing something, or you should be monitoring it to actually add features that address why people leave. Right? And so by rethinking the sales process into the basically how do customers make progress, and our job is to educate them along the way, it actually helps us see sales in a very different way.

So the phrase I always say is context creates value. And contrast creates meaning, which is at the core of kind of how we think about demand side sales. So let me give you an example. This is Steve Robert. He is a he is a serial entrepreneur. And this is I think, his third. He’s in the FinTech space. And he’s based here in Detroit. Beautiful Detroit, by the way, it’s it’s actually getting much, much better than whatever the press would say. And it is basically my one of my co founders, actually. He’s, he has now he had twins. So he’s got three kids now. And he couldn’t really kind of do the business we were doing anyway, he wanted to go build something. So he joined up with them with Kyle and Derek. And we started to basically talk about this process where Derek is head of sales, and I’m sorry, Kyle’s head of sales. And Derek is head of marketing, right? So what is audiobooks, audible sells to banks, they sell basically, almost an E commerce platform. So literally, you can do things like square and Pay Pal at the banks, right. But the thing is, is that they’re really focused on small business, think of the people who tried to use Pay Pal, but couldn’t or think of the people who like painters, lawn lawn mower, like the I’ll say, the very, very simple side of the business set. And what they do is they build this platform that helps them get paid. And it’s a very, very, I’ll say, simple app that actually works all through SMS, and it works, you know, basically takes them to the website that then goes into their account. And one of the things that’s really important is that money that gets deposited account is now available way faster, and at less cost than anybody else. So like if you go to pay pal, I think they hold it for up to seven days. Right? And it’s other places they hold it last, but it’s partly the fact is like, this is your bank, we can do it at your bank. It’s a pretty, it’s a decent product. So one of the things I did is I just asked Kyle, what’s your biggest struggling moment? Like what like, as you’re doing the sales that they’re about two years into the process? And then basically, when he goes, You know, it’s it’s the demo. The demo is just killing me and putting me in the demo? Because well, he goes, the fact is, is like we have everything lead up to the demo. So we have advertising, we have landing pages, we get the T mail campaigns, we turn trickle, we basically get bookings. And we basically book everybody to do a demo. But it’s like when we do the demo. It’s just it’s not right. So every 90 days, were we thinking the demo. And so it’s just this this aspect of trying to like what’s the right demo? And so as as I as we’re talking about the demo, right, and I’m looking at it and looking through the timeline, I talked to him about the timeline. I’m like, so, you know, the demo was designed for helping to close people, how do we close people? And so what I really asked us, but where are they in their timeline? He goes, What do you mean? I said, you have a sales funnel, but they have a buying timeline? Where are they are they and just I think in passive looking like, I just need to know what’s possible, or I just I don’t know enough to actually pull the team together, you’re saying like, I’m not going to do a demo unless you pull 50 people together, that I can demo it to everybody. And like, I don’t know, enough if I should, right? Or it’s like you’re at some point, you’re showing them something too high. And so just redoing it. And so as we started to talk through it, and basically we came back and said, Look, a demo and passive looking is typically going to be very small, because oh yeah, we get those, like one or two people that took me like, they’ll always say the word I, I want to do this, I need to know that, right? And then all of a sudden that spurs them to actually have a second demo. Right? Which is this notion of active looking like, I’m gonna pull a bunch of people in, let’s show people what this can do for us. And then the end up doing a third demo, right? The thing is, is the unrealistic expectation of having one demo to do it all, didn’t work. So what we did is we set off and said, Look, we’re gonna actually create three really different demos. And what we realised if there is not a lot of energy after demo one, that the likelihood of them actually using it is zero. And so we actually have to get them to the point where and to be honest, it’s okay to be a passive looking because when the context changes, they’ll then move to active looking. And so what we did is we basically designed these demos like think of this as it’s like a conference, right? As literally tell stories, ask them more about what’s going on at their company. Ask them why they we even stopped with it, tell them about and tell them two or three different ways in which you helped other people make progress. You don’t Need to get into specific features and benefits, but you need to teach them the language. And if they go like, Oh, man, this is great. Like I’d like to get other people involved, then you start to do the second demo.

But the second demo, and I was like, we need to have marketing there, we need to have it there, we need to. And we’ll do 90 minutes that walk people through it, right. And oh, by the way, we’ll we’ll gather all the different things. And we’ll come back with three scenarios. And then the fourth is really, they would call it the contract. But it’s really a fourth demo, which is a third demo, which really then talks to them about kind of here’s three different options to get started. And they’re positioned in a way to force them to make trade offs, we can do this very quickly. But it’s a it’s a, it’s basically a generic label that goes under auto books, and we can actually instal it in your system. But we can do that in four weeks, we can White, label it, and put your brand on it and do this and this and this, but that’s actually going to take 12 weeks, right? And it’s going to cost you more money. Where do you want to go. And so part of it is, is by understanding the value they want, and the jobs they’re in, they can actually figure it out. So here’s the crazy part, right? As, as, as prospects come in, right? They actually understand the three different major scenarios, the three different jobs by which people, you know, buy their product, or buy their service from a bank perspective. And then we have a timeline for each of them. And so if somebody comes in, we the first thing is, there’s four or five questions, we asked to say like, why are you reaching out today? And as we do it, we can actually figure out which job they’re in based on the scenario. And then we start to ask them, Where are they in the timeline. And then it’s about the salespersons job to manage them through that timeline, to turn them into a customer. Right. And so by thinking about it, that way, they’ve changed the way they’ve done thing. And here’s the thing. So now they do three demos, right, which is kind of crazy, right? But the rails, like from from first contact to close is almost half of what they used to do. Right. The other part is they have two times the lead conversion, because in a lot of cases, they either tried to close them too early, or they actually didn’t understand their scenario enough. And they were talking way too much about, about kind of the closing part of everything right. The last part is that the bonus that they got is that when they’re now launching, right and doing it, it’s actually faster and less work on the back end, because everybody’s involved in the process. So like if people aren’t willing to to get the team together in an act of looking, the fact is, is and they’ll say, Well, I don’t know enough, we’re gonna put him back in passive looking and figure out how to actually give them enough to sell it to bring everybody together. But now that we have everybody together, and part of the buying process, everything else moves faster. And so now they’re actually having more and more success. Right. And, by the way, and that Steve smiling because the valuation is going through the roof, right? The traditional view of sales and marketing is that marketing does their part and they handle leads off and then sales does their part and hands it off. But when you start to think about it as I need all systems like, on in onboarding, when I’m in first use, I need marketing’s help, right. And when I’m doing continuous use, I need I need actually marketing’s help. The thing is, is we’ve tried to actually build these narrow bands, because at some point, it’s it’s, it’s it’s ultimately about functionality that we say the function of marketing does this, but ultimately, we need to align everybody to the progress customers are trying to make. And so for example, at intercom, what they’ve done is they’ve they’ve literally say that they have a sales team, marketing team and customer success team that’s all geared around each job. So once somebody talks about what they are, is they all work together in one space, right? Long and short is what business people think they know about the customer is more likely wrong than right. Right. And customers rarely buy what business thinks it’s selling. Right. And so ultimately, what we want to do is start to think about and at least complement the way we think about sales with the demand side of how people buy, and at some point start to at least educate people about this side of the market. Because for me and jobs to be done, it’s really helped both product, it’s helped strategy, it’s helped marketing, and it’s helped sales, it’s helped customer support, like it helps all parts of the business. But the reality is, is when we start from the demand side or the supply side, we ended up just averaging our way to the to doing things and it doesn’t work, at least for me, it doesn’t. So one find struggling moments and help people overcome them. This isn’t about you eliminating struggling moments. This is about you helping them make progress, focus on the progress that they’re trying to make. Right? What is their sign of like when they want a feature? What does that feature represented them in terms of progress? Why did they want it? What’s what’s what’s implied to them? Right? The second part is to say where are they in the timeline. Where they are is actually is a very big function of what they’re willing to learn what they’re willing to do and how they’re willing to actually act and your job is to actually walk them through the process of how they buy. What’s so strange is that is at auto books they thought it was going to be The uncomfortable state. So where are you in the buying process? And people ask, Well, what do you mean by that? And they explain it. They’re like, Oh, yeah, we’re here. And people will self identify exactly where they’re at. And then they do some template the rails like they were so uncomfortable to ask, because the way they used to ask it is, where are you in our sales process, which they don’t really care about? Right? Just a simple flip of the words. Right. So the last part is, is focused on the buying language. Like, again, April says this all the time is like, we need to unpack those features and benefits down to why those features and benefits are important to them. In that context, what’s their reference point, right. And the last thing is helped to make trade offs. This whole notion of trade offs is like, I’m not a very big fan of anything called like, the ideal customer, or the ideal product, or the ideal plus, none of that really exists. And to be honest, it’s it’s in some cases, it’s very detrimental. I feel like the fact is, we need to be able to identify what are the trade offs that we have to make, and they have to make and how do we overlap it, as opposed to trying to constantly work for ideal because we never get to idea we never have enough time, we never have enough money. And to be honest, the ideal is different for everybody. And so it’s just a really bad notion to me. Right? So ultimately, just help your customers make progress. Thanks, Mark. I’m 5/6/7 minutes early.

Mark Littlewood 

Oh, thank you. There’s so many so many questions. So many insights, so many things flying around. There were a couple of things that kind of came up in the chat. There was one from Alex, about something you were talking about. He was saying is this a discovery call? And saying there’s difference between your approach and a discovery call. Alex are you there?

Audience Member 

Yeah, that’s pretty much the question.

Yeah. So So my thing is, is where, if I’m here, I gotta share I’m Hold on a second. So here’s the thing is a discovery call, right? What like, like, let’s think about this for so where’s the discovery? is like, again, if where are they in the time? So part of it is when you start to look at this, there’s a discovery call just to figure out which job they’re in. Right? And then there’s a discovery call the fear of where they are on the timeline. And those could be one call, they could be two calls. But part of it is to realise what energy like what put them to actually reach out to you? What made them say like, well, I want to set up. Here’s the thing is, nothing is random. If we believe things are random, we just wait. It is literally the laziest concept in the world to be saying that things are random. It’s like when somebody comes to me and says, yeah, it’s just a random process, I literally fire them on the spot, because it’s like, it’s just, you’re never gonna get it. Because people don’t randomly buy. And so to me, if you’re getting him on the phone, they picked up the phone for reason. Why? Right, and they again, they could be all the way down in in buying, like, I’ve already got two other quotes, I need a third quote, great. Now I gotta get, I gotta get a lot of backgrounds. But if they’re literally like, like, I don’t know, we’re looking for things to do. We’ve got we’ve got budget set aside, these other two things fell through, we’ve got some extra money, we’re looking to actually spend it, like, help me understand what you can do to help us. And that’s where you got to say, You got to not actually fall for that bait. You got to go like, so tell me what you’ve tried. To help me understand your context helped me understand what worked helped me understand what hasn’t worked. This is all about them. So to me, the thing is, is we’re so worried about the product that when we do a discovery call, we don’t actually dig deep enough into their side, we wait to hear the three or four trigger words, and then we dive into our pitch. Right? Yeah, it definitely happens. Yep. So to me, this is actually way more about them, and in some cases, way more uncomfortable about them than most people want to go. And what I would say is, the more you invest here, the here’s the thing is when somebody is not qualified, what you do is you basically say, well, when this and this and this happen, we’ll be ready to do business, you can actually pre signal them to say, look, when when this goes awry, and this happens and you start to grow at this rate, like this is a perfect place for us to help. So in their passive looking, you can actually plug in your criteria. And then you can actually just follow up to say Has this happened yet? Now they’re just checking in on things you’ve already said, as opposed to like, Hey, how can I help? Right? Part of this is to understand that that progress. Sorry, I’m a little long winded. I apologise.

Mark Littlewood 

Oh, that’s great. Mike Austin, you’ve got a question. I’m picking some from the chat.

Bob Moesta 

Yeah, just so you know, I can’t read so I’m dyslexic. You’re talking about the American Southwest. So this is this is very helpful for you to ask.

Audience Member 

So no worries. Thank you. So the sales model, if clients self identify as passive looking, then we kind of do this at the moments and we put people onto a nurture stream, and we try to give them valuable content and that kind of stuff, and then we get back to them. Maybe after a few months, what we’ve had a few times though is, competitors come in, they then engage that prospect with a very aggressive sales process, and close them their day off from a free trial, or they offer them, you know, cheap service, or whatever it is, before we then get back to them. So how would you deal with that kind of situation?

Bob Moesta 

So here’s the thing is, is part of the job, part of your requirements in passive looking, as they say, Well, I’m not really is you actually haven’t actually dug deep enough to understand the real pain of why they’re doing it. And the reason why somebody else got there is they actually were able to dig deeper and figure out like, well, how much you’re really losing because of this, like? I don’t know, well, let me give you some examples. Let me tell you some other stories. And so part of it is, is you’re losing the battle, because you’re just letting them self identify, as opposed to verifying their self identification, and making sure that you’re educating them along the way. It’s, it’s again, I keep going back to April, but it’s April’s whole point of like, how do you educate them with something new, that gets them to actually start to move forward? The the role is to actually move people through the timeline, not just to actually wait for them to react, how do you help them cause movement? I don’t know if that helped them? Did I even answer that question? Yeah,

Audience Member 

I think he said, I’m just sort of thinking about Baghdad trying to process that quickly, because because that sounds kind of like like a more traditional sort of pushy sales approach.

Bob Moesta 

But the pushy salesperson is talking about the product. Right? The thing is, is what you want to be able to do is talk help them, like Teach them like for example, give them a new metric. Right? So most people talk about lead conversion, right? And my thing is, is how do we talk about the number of leads that are actually qualified to even buy? Or when we talk about what’s the, like, how do you actually give people new metrics, so they actually will do something about it. The best example I have is the moment that people talked about losing weight is one thing, but then the moment we start talking about steps, it changes. Everybody’s saying, Oh, I gotta do 10 more steps, I can go do 10 more steps. I don’t know how to lose 10 more pounds. Right? And so this aspect of understanding how to give them metrics, and help them actually understand how good they’re doing, there’s a whole bunch of things. And you’re not pushy, because you’re a teacher. Right, the pushy sales, literally, here’s the thing is, I think, the ridiculous part to me is that the Church of finance would tell us that we have to actually close something by the end of the quarter, because we made a commitment to make these numbers by the end of the quarter. And the people that we have, who are buying on their own timeline, are willing to pay full price. But we are offering a 20% discount because we need to meet our numbers. And we actually just devalued our product. 20%. Ridiculous. That’s it. That’s just unacceptable to me. And the fact is, is that we run it as normal, which then changes the behaviour of the entire industry to say expect discounts all the time. So what do we do we just mark up the price. And then we actually then offer the discount all the time. But it’s not actually a real feature. Sorry. Ryan, and I are cut from the same cloth. So sometimes we end up on the wrong the wrong track.

Mark Littlewood 

Ryan booth.

Audience Member 

Great talk. I had a question related to the length of demos, if you had any thoughts on the length of demo. And does that vary depending on where a buyer is in his timeline? Do you tend to get more time with a you?

Bob Moesta 

So what’s interesting is that, to be honest, we we didn’t think we could get more demos like we didn’t know we’d get more time. But the thing is, is like the first demo, they’re expecting to see the product that we spent, I think the way Kyle and Derek set it up was they ended up taking the hour and 50 minutes, we’re all about their situation. And 10 minutes was the product. So it was just enough to get it in. And then when they came back, I was like, Well, before we come back, like if can you invite marketing in it and the other people along the way. And if they couldn’t do it, they’d actually then do a shorter, smaller thing to actually prepare them to go invite people. But that next demo with everybody else was actually then 90 minutes. So I don’t know if it has to be that timely. But what I would say is it’s dependent on the context. But what they did is like, they might do an overview for all of it, and then 30 minutes with marketing and 30 minutes with it afterwards. But it’s 90 minutes to demo. And if they’re not pushing for it, then what they found is that that by them trying to push for it, they never had the energy to actually implement it.

Audience Member 

Thank you are there just to follow up on that? Are there specific signals you look at when you’re doing a trade off demo that tell you you’ve done your job in convincing them that you’re not the one being traded?

Bob Moesta 

So, so yeah, so in the third demo, one of the things that’s important is that they can very quickly. So this is where you actually give them a bad option. It’s very well designed, but it’s an option, you know, they don’t want, so they can quickly because if they actually look at all three of them, if they’re too close, and they’re all too good, they’re gonna be like, I don’t know how to decide, you want one of them to be sorry, I’m using my document camera, that’s not the right thing. Anyway, you know, you want it, the one that they throw out first is that the one that that they’re going to is becomes the reference point. And so you want to make sure that they’re different enough, but that necessarily you like, it’s almost like people would say you’re trying to have them. It’s like an albatross or something that, you know, they’re not going to buy, but it actually helps them because they start to look at different feature sets than trying to compare them side by side. And so the other thing is, what I would say is most people have to go get three, not because it’s a, it’s required, but as they actually need that context or that contrast to actually create the meaning of what it is. So they can build the case to other people why they did it. And it mostly is about what the other person doesn’t do. It’s not about what you do.

Audience Member 

Okay, thank you.

Mark Littlewood 

Melissa Johnson.

Audience Member 

Thanks, Bob. I’m pleasantly surprised by your talk. Not that anything biassed it’s just I’m from the product side. And I am just so engaged with this right now. And so thank you for that. My question,

Bob Moesta 

I’m a product person too. And it literally got, I ended up having to go to the sales side. So this is this is like the products, the product person slant on how to do sales. And yes, I’ve sold a lot of stuff and a lot of different industries. And so to me, it’s also time tested.

Audience Member 

Great. So I’m thinking of the one slide where you had to demand side sales bills, alignment and focus and on the top, you have the the demand side on top and the bottom, you have the supply side and the bottom, you know, talking about the they work with each other throughout, do you have any suggestions on how to do that, or best practice.

Bob Moesta 

So so. So the guy that the people that auto books, what they did is in some cases, they actually built teams, and then people go on sales calls and they make the salespeople be part of the implementation. So part of it is is that instead of trying to give them so much focus to do one thing, they’re actually enabling them to have some slack. So that can be part of the entire process. And I think April talked about when she would basically build a new pitch for marketers, when she go on sales calls, that most marketers don’t even do that they don’t even know what it’s like to be, you know, like, like the notion of being a general manager of a of a company you’re selling to like that. They might know a little bit about the demographics, but they don’t know what it feels like. And so a lot of cases, getting Junior marketers to actually be in the seat and understand selling versus marketing is very important. So to me, it’s, it’s, it’s T and to be honest with with, with now with COVID. It’s enabled people to just hop on and actually start to ask questions and be part of it where they don’t have to travel with everybody.

Audience Member 

That’s exactly it, I could see my sales team freaking out that the marketer would ask a question, but that’s probably something we could get over with.

Bob Moesta 

Here’s the things you give some rules. So the one of the first things we do is we start with like, Let’s go talk to somebody who recently bought. And let’s just get the story of what caused them to say today’s the day they bought. And what happens is it’s never the salesperson story. There’s so much behind the scenes that went on that we don’t even know about that actually are things we could have helped with that, that we didn’t, we didn’t want to uncover that if we actually did four or five other things, we could actually get sold it faster or easier. And so part is we start with a post mortems of, you know, four or five past sales that then start to frame the jobs that we’re trying to get done that then then then they build where the unknowns are. So you know, to me the other part is what don’t we know? And how do we actually know it. So I use product now like the product notion of unknowns to bring into sales and marketing.

Audience Member 

Totally agree. Just as a side note, too, we recognise the value of listening on sales conversations. So we actually have caught or purchased a solution that allows us to to record our sales. It’s all integrated with HubSpot and everything. It’s actually pretty cool. We just started using it. So now we can we can listen to any sales call. Because I totally 100% agree with you. The story that you get from the sales rep is not exactly what is stated by the customer. It’s their view.

Bob Moesta 

The other part is they’re gonna see words, they’re gonna say where’s Well, well, we need something more secure. What the hell does that mean? Like there’s there’s 42 different ways to make something more secure. Like which one is it or is it a set of on? And so what happens is we go, Oh, we’re secure. We got it and then we just dive into what secure is. But we actually don’t actually understand what their definition of secure is. So it’s it’s all that so many that you listen, I always try to find the words that are so abstract that it can have multiple definitions from a product perspective is like, Okay, this is a word, we need to go unpack that word. So like, either I want to go back to that customer or every time you ask security, let’s ask about like, what is unsecure? What is not secure me? Because at some point, they can’t tell you what security is, but they can tell you what security is not.

Audience Member 

Totally agree. Thank you,

Mark Littlewood 

David.

Audience Member 

Hi, Bob. This is a fabulous talk. Thank you, the t shirt. When you are when you’re trying to educate the customers after listening to what they’re interested in? Would you recommend that that learning customer learning be more effortful or easier for them to go through the go through the path? Where do you find more buy in?

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Bob Moesta 

So this is what’s interesting is I? So it’s a great question. And I might cop out by saying like, it depends on the context. Because I actually think the more effort people put into it, the more the more they’re actually bought into the process. And when we make things too easy, it actually causes them to actually make bad decisions. But I think that they’re somewhere where you can’t actually get your foot in the door if you’re not easy. And if it’s too much work. So I think it’s a judgement call on basically, how big is the problem? And how much do they really want to solve it? And what’s the urgency behind the problem? And the risk of the old solution? So to me, it’s, it’s really contextual in that in that aspect, I don’t think there’s a generalised question, or generalised answer to that. Thank you, I will say this, I’m not a big fan of free, I think free trial is like too much. Or like, it’s just it doesn’t, it doesn’t enable people to actually be committed in a way that they can see the functionality of something.

Audience Member 

Yeah, I just in my life experience, when people put in effort you act, they feel more invested in the piece. And I was just wondering how much effort you can actually expect from your clients?

Bob Moesta 

Oh so, here’s the thing is, what I would say is, the more energy, what I would call social, emotional and functional energy of the push, is basically where you’re going to see where they’re going to actually put more energy into figure out the progress. So in a lot of cases, making them aware of forces that they don’t know, or make them aware of things that they can do that they can’t do now will actually then enable them to have the energy to have the diligence.

Audience Member 

Or even reflect their their energy back at them so that they actually know what they should be focusing on, or what they think they’re focusing on. Exactly

Bob Moesta 

the the other part is, is a lot of cases, people are very sceptical to say like they want to close by they have people there. But but if you do this, right, what you end up doing is, is leaving them and it’s almost like it’s festering, or it’s mulling or it’s fermenting inside them. And the notion is the energy just gets greater. And so if you do this, right, you actually don’t like the like, one of my favourite things is to say, at some point to go like I’m, you know, I’m just not sure this is a fit, and then they start to tell me all the reasons why it’s a fit. And when they say it, it’s truth. When I say it, I’m selling leather.

Mark Littlewood 

You had a great question bloody. My friend. He’s from Romania.

Bob Moesta 

I was there last year.

Audience Member 

Yeah. So yeah. I just wanted to clarify on pushing them through the timeline versus helping them every step of the way. Because I think there’s a big difference between the two. Yes.

Bob Moesta 

So So part of it is, is you’re not pushing them, they’re pushing themselves. So that’s the first thing. The other part is some people try to try to create pull with their features and benefits to pull people through. And the reality is that features and benefits also create anxiety. And so part of this is it’s the balance of all of this to actually understand their context. It’s not about it’s not about making them afraid. It’s more about being able to actually understand what what are the things that are motivating them to make progress. And so you’re not you’re not trying to, I think most most salespeople are either trying to actually attract like, like talk about poll, like you could do all these things. They might take a little bit about the problem, but they don’t talk about the problem at a level that is meaningful to the customer. And part of this is unpacking what is the meaningful things that are really relevant to them right then and there. In all of them that you have to look at,

Audience Member 

Right, because there’s a risk of forcing them too quickly through the timeline and just it’s just not the right time

Bob Moesta 

and then then they have buyer’s remorse. Right

Mark Littlewood 

I was gonna pretend I’ve got a book what I’ve really done is printed on the website

Bob Moesta 

should be coming soon it was out yesterday

Mark Littlewood 

I’ll take it that’s pretty cool. So let’s let’s do a little virtual book signing which is a concept I’ve just invented only got all the hold on so if you move the camera to the desk view Bob if you could write something like to the great people at BoS from BoS

Bob Moesta 

very good what colour we’ll do it a blue that’s a great setup What’s that keyboard

Audience Member 

told them let’s do this. Oh, nice. Gotcha. Cool.

Bob Moesta 

All right, screenshot it.

Mark Littlewood 

Hang on a second. I will get it there you go.


Bob Moesta
Bob Moesta

Bob Moesta

co-Founder, The ReWired Group

Entrepreneur, innovator and ‘the milkshake guy’ from Clayton Christensen’s famous example of Jobs-To-Be-Done, Bob was one of the principal architects of the JTBD theory in the mid 1990s.

Bob is the President & CEO of The ReWired Group and serves as a Fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. A visual thinker, teacher, and creator, Moesta has worked on & helped launch more than 3,500 new products, services and businesses across nearly every industry, including defence, automotive, software, financial services and education, among many others. The Jobs to be Done theory is just one of 25 different methods and tools he uses to speed up and cut costs of successful development projects. He is a guest lecturer at The Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Entrepreneurship and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Check out Bob’s other talks here.


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