How To Build Trust And Context To Win B2B Sales With Tony Hughes
Accelerating Sales to Scale your Business
If you are in the cloud and technology space and your clients struggle to commit at the executive level to treat your solution as a change program and drive it effectively, you need to listen to Tony Hughes. He has 35 years of sales experience, mainly in the cloud and technology. He has also written three bestselling books and was voted in the top three sales experts on LinkedIn. His suggestion: A consultative approach to selling.
4:18 – These are the biggest problems Tony helps to solve. Consistent self‑generation of opportunity pipeline.
5:29 – How do big companies like Salesforce get more leads? A consultative approach to selling.
11:18 – What are people doing differently in the SaaS space? Product-led strategy.
13:34 – What is AI doing for sales? Tech is disrupting a lot of professions.
23:08 – LinkedIn and social selling. It’s important to nail the narratives: What are their opportunities to drive results?
31:21 – The Sales Dive. Tony’s sales habits
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How do SaaS companies bring new and better leads?
The SaaS model is a shared risk model for the customer and the seller. But what Tony explains is that the reason that most software implementations fail has got nothing to do with the software product or the methodology being used to implant. Typically the number one reason for failure is the customers themselves. There is a lack of commitment at the executive level to treat it as a change program and drive it effectively. When a customer starts small, they begin with a lack of commitment.
The key here, then, is how you approach the customer and set the tone of the deal. So Tony and his team started testing a consulting approach to selling where customers could drive important, meaningful, improved results in their roles. Customers need clarity about the results they’re seeking to drive, which justifies the level of resources, both funding and executive commitment, for change internally when implementing software.
By improving customer/partner experience, creating good processes and aligning these with the buyer’s journey, you will be able to increase close rates. “I think partners are essential because they bring a level of consultative domain expertise beyond the product”, Tony explains.
What is a product-led strategy?
According to Tony, the big trend in the world of software is a product-led strategy. You want to make it possible for people to evaluate and start using these business models. But the experience people have with you and your product and the level of engagement should be the thing that makes the selling. And how do you do that?
In Tony’s book, Tech-Powered Sales, he talks about the importance of everybody in sales to become a cyborg so we can take the best of technology and outsource to our tech stack. We can automate many things in our businesses, but we need to inject humans into the process at exactly the right inflection points. There are things that technology will never do well that humans do excel in.
In the end, what we’re all looking to do is to create an incredible experience. In the last 20 years, all of the research has shown that the biggest point of difference in the world of B2B selling is all about who provides the best engagement experience for the customer. It’s not product capability, it’s not brand, it’s not price. It’s that engagement experience.
And what does the engagement experience really mean? It’s the fact that the seller helps to reframe the customer’s thinking. They start to educate and make them aware of the real issues and opportunities to go further in driving benefits or results.
What about tech versus humans?
Tony says in his book that the future of selling is when buyer intent meets seller relevance. And the matchmaking is done by technology so humans can have high-value conversations where there’s a very high probability that something will happen at the end of that conversation. But first, we need to have clarity about our ideal customer profile (ICP) and all its attributes.
If you’re in the SaaS space where you’re selling tech, you want to know what the tech stack looks like at my ICP organization. Are there certain competitors that I’m great at replacing? Is there certain tech that we complement really well? Are there other technologies that indicate a propensity to invest in transformation? And that’ll start to show a mindset.
Essential tech stack that salesperson in a B2B cloud space needs
- CRM system
- LinkedIn Sale Navigator
- Sales intelligence tools (Trgger)
- Sales engagement platforms (SEP)
The Sales Deep Dive
What are the sales habits that help you accelerate your sales?
We need the daily habit of creating an opportunity pipeline and making sure we’re progressing the opportunities we’ve got. We want to avoid just continuations. We want progression. So every day, you should ask yourself: What am I doing to create an opportunity pipeline? What am I doing to progress my opportunities? They’re the two most important things we must do every day. And no matter how busy you get, do not allow yourself to believe the lie that you’re too busy to do prospecting. Prospecting is the only thing that creates predictability and reduces that stress.
What are some of the tech tools you use to accelerate your sales?
The reality for me is I’ve got more business coming to me than I can cope with because I’ve done the work of building a personal brand. But I’ll just say consistent daily outreach, targeting your ideal customer profile and those buyer personas and just make sure you nail the message.
What’s the best source of leads for your business?
The best source of leads is our existing customers. But when asking for referrals, don’t use the R word. It’s better to ask: “Who do you know in your network that’s been struggling with these same things? We’d love to share with them what you’ve been able to do”.
What is one action that someone can take to 10 X their sales today?
Focus your energy around the ideal customer profile and take the time to truly understand the buyer personas to whom you sell, how they measured in their role and build a narrative. Do some research on how they can drive improved results in their role because that opens the right conversations. And opening is the new closing. The way you open is what determines everything else that follows.
About Tony Hughes
Dan is an award-winning entrepreneur and speaker with 20+ years of experience in marketing technology and analytics.
Dan was formerly the head of marketing at Kissmetrics and was head of growth at CodeSchool.com which was acquired by Pluralsight.
Coined as one of the original growth hackers, and one of the godfathers of marketing technology, he has helped thousands of companies over his career.
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