The Game of Sales
The Game of Sales
David Perry is a sales and business development expert. He’s an industry veteran who understands the game of sales at the top level. David advises world-class brands on how to adapt and get value out of marketing and advertising technology during digital transformations. He’s worked with 100+ companies in various industries, including technology, healthcare, and financial services. He’s also the author of the book “The Game of Sales.”
Why “The Game of Sales?” It comes down to his audience. David has read everything from brittle and dry to interesting and entertaining business books. He wanted to make sure his book was fun, thus the title “The Game of Sales.” David thinks it can be easier to think of it as a game to be able to take a step back and see how things work together. Learn more about his book and the concepts he covers in it in this episode of Negotiations Ninja!
Mark: Welcome to the Negotiations Ninja Podcast, where we develop and deliver the most engaging negotiation content and training in the world. We host negotiation experts, business people and entrepreneurs, and discuss what works, what doesn't work and how we can improve our negotiation skills. What's going on, Negotiations Ninja listeners. You've got Mark here from the Negotiations Ninja Podcast. Today my guest is the amazing David Perry. He's a sales and business development expert and he's written an amazing book called the Game of Sales: Lessons Learned While Working at Adobe, Amazon, Google, and IBM. And I got to tell you, if you were thinking of finding an industry veteran who understands the game of sales at the top level, then David is your guy. Highly recommend that you pick up that book and enjoy this incredible interview with David Perry. David, we made it, barring a couple of technical difficulties, but we're here. Welcome.
David Perry: Thank you, Mark. Great to be here.
Mark: Excited to have you on, dude.
David Perry: Yeah, same here. It's great to be on. It's been quite some time and really glad to be here on the podcast.
Mark: Look, I think we're going to have a ton of fun together. Before we get too deep into the conversation, maybe you could tell the listeners a little bit about who you are and what you do.
David Perry: Certainly. And so over the past, let's say 15 years or so, I've really been focused on advising world- class brands on how to adopt and get value out of marketing and advertising technology. And as leading up to during digital transformations, and of course, recently that's really accelerated with COVID and the much greater need for digital. And so I've worked across, let's say over a hundred companies or so, across a variety of industries including consumer products, technology, healthcare, financial services, et cetera. And, so really glad to be here on the podcast and talk more about the Game of Sales, and also any questions you have around negotiations.
Mark: Awesome. Well, I'm glad that you titled the book, the Game of Sales, because I often view what we do, sort of in the enterprise sales game, as almost like a game. So tell me a little bit more about that. That's sort of where I want to start, why title of the book, the Game of Sales?
David Perry: I feel it really comes down to the audience, right? Salespeople and being a salesperson myself, I've read so many different business books, everything from things that were brittle and dry to books that were more entertaining. And so there are whole host of books that I wanted to model mine after. And so I just wanted to make sure it was fun, and so that's why I chose the title Game of Sales. But also I think it really is in some respects it helps to... Even though there are obviously serious consequences and you can earn a really good living doing this job I mean, I do think it helps sometimes to think better at the game, so you can take step back from it a little bit and see how it's all working together. So it's for those reasons that I named the book Game of Sales.
Mark: I love it man. Now, we've got enterprise sales people that listen to this show, and enterprise procurement people that listen to this show. So I think this is really going to hit home for a lot of them because a lot of the procurement people that listen in often think, how does a salesperson think? How does an enterprise sales person think, and vice versa? And so the first question I have for you is really around how a sales person approaches the sale with an enterprise. And you've got a section in here that I want to reference. It's in part one where you start talking about dare to care and ramping up the industry leaders in technology, let's speak to that dare to care part, because I think this really highlights really well sort of the mindset that people should have when they go into enterprise sales. What do you mean by dare to care?
David Perry: There's a lot to that specific title and section as well. And so what I mean by that is that, it's funny, it's like sometimes I thought maybe people will think it's cheesy that I'm talking about caring. And when I first... Because I always knew I wanted that to be the title for this chapter, as soon as I decided to get started with the book. It was actually one of the, I'd say eight of the 12 chapter that titles came to me instantly. And I knew that I wanted... I didn't care, I wanted that to be the title regardless, but I did want to get some validation just in case my instincts was off on it. So I talked to some of the top salespeople that I know, and I think they are some of the top salespeople in the world at Adobe and elsewhere that have been successful year, after year, after year. And I went through the basic themes I wanted to cover and I highlighted this and they're like, oh yeah, absolutely. That is so important. That's like central. So that really gave me even more confidence that that was how I would describe this chapter. And the reason why I say dare to care, is because I think that sometimes people might think, oh, well that's cheesy, or we're just going to get in and out and we don't really need to care too much about the customer situation or there's all these other... And so but I think that's obviously completely wrong, right? It's a very wrong mindset to have. But it's daring in that, it's like once you really commit and you do care about the customer can take a lot out of you and it's also, it can be very, very challenging. So it does require a bit of daring to really just dive in and stand by the customer and by the work you're doing for them. And so, that's really what the chapter is about. And it's not a methodology per se. It's a quality that I realized that I have, and I've noticed in other top salespeople that helps them to be successful, because if you don't really care deeply about your customer, you're just not going to be able to put in the time necessary to learn about them, to go through all the twists and turns that can happen over the course of the customer relationship or the deal cycle. I have a quote in there that I love from, from Teddy Roosevelt when he says, nobody cares how much you know unless they know how much you care. And so as enterprise salespeople, we find ourselves stepping into the room with, I mean, we could be working with an executive that has 10, 000 people reporting to them, or they could be running billions of dollars in revenue. And what is it that you can really offer to that person if you don't start from the standpoint of actually caring about their business? Even if you are as capable and as smart as that individual and they sense you don't care about their business, you will be dropped in a second and they will sniff that out. So that's really why I wanted to highlight this particular chapter and make sure that I gave the reader some stories and examples, because I think that sometimes it can feel like you're pretty isolated, right? And when you're going through these difficult situations or if you're working term with these executives. But I think every sales person is going through the same thing, so I just wanted to make sure that everybody was aware of that as they're reading the book and have a frame of reference.
Mark: I love that you started around the book, around this sort of dare to care methodology or sort of mindset, I would say. Because I think this is a big area where a lot of people have, specially procurement people, have misconceptions about how salespeople think and how they approach the business and the really successful, as you mentioned, the really successful enterprise salespeople, they're the ones who actually genuinely care. They care about whether or not the business gets the right product for what they need, gets the right service for what they need. They're available, post- sales service for their customers. And I love that you included this in here because I think a lot of books focus on tactics, right? And strategy, which is important, I'm not going to say that, that's not important. And in fact, you focus on this as well, but what they don't focus on is this mindset, of this caring mindset. So I love that you include that in there. What I want to talk about is also the part where you talk about unshakable resilience. I know I'm just sort of jumping ahead here, but where you talk about unshakable resilience and you talk about the certainty of horrible meetings, which I think we can all relate to where we get these just brutal discussions with either stakeholders in the business that we're selling into or with procurement people that we're selling into as well. And for much of my career, I was a procurement person and part of the sports that I had for myself was to see if I could rattle the enterprise sales people that would come in and sell and get them off their game. I'd love for you to talk about the certainty of horrible meetings and what people can expect around, doing this job for a long time, that horrible meetings are a fact of life, and then how to handle those meetings when they pop up.
David Perry: So what I'm saying is that the core concept is that about resilience, is around expectations. And so I don't hit the reader over the head with that philosophy, but I try to help to set the reader's expectations in terms of what they can expect in their career even as they move on. These horrible meetings are just going to keep on happening and it's just a fact of life. And so it's really about just expecting them. And if you expect that they're going to happen, if you know that then you're going to be naturally much more resilient because you're not going to be as blindsided. And even today, even though I wrote that section, I still have to find myself tapping into my resilience with a lot of these situations, because no matter how much you prepare yourself, they're always going to be challenging. But I think the key point is that... So what I try to demonstrate for the reader in the certainty of horrible meetings chapter, it's kind of a funny title, what I like thinking about it, is that you're going to have these terrible situations. The one I described was pretty ridiculous where I inadvertently created a situation where I had a angry executive, and I just made the meeting so much worse than it had to even be. And I would have chilled for a Snickers bar because we had some type of mishap with a lunch delivery, or there's a miscommunication around how that was going to work. I've just made the meeting even that much worse. So, but you take a step back and you try to evaluate and see what is it that you can learn? And so I take that chapter as an opportunity just to show all the mistakes that I've made in meetings, and I then converted those into tips or learnings that people can take. They're just on the mechanics of the meeting itself, which is, there's a lot there. And it comes to experience like the ability to be really, really flexible and move with the flow of the meeting, rather than let's say, it's really sticking to your storyline no matter what, right? So all of that is in that chapter.
Mark: What would you say are the fundamental things that need to be included in a meeting to make it a really successful meeting?
David Perry: So if it's a meeting with the team, then that's a little bit different than if it's an individual, but I'm assuming that we're talking to enterprise sale, it's a team meeting. So in order for that meeting to be successful, and unless you've been working with these individuals for, and that particular prospect or client for a long period of time, you really cannot just roll in there. There's a ton of preparatory war that needs to happen. So you need to come together on the content for the meeting, on the different speaking roles and make sure that there's a really clear objective, and that you've visualized how each person on the client side in the room is going to react, and the types of questions that they're going to ask, what it is that they're going to want to see. Once you've gone through those thought processes, you should be in much better shape to have a successful meeting. And the other thing you want to do is, and this is with the customer, sometimes these meetings can be set very, very far in advance or, they may not be, but if they are, it's really important to just consistently validate the agenda and the objectives of the meeting with whoever is helping you to arrange it. And even doing that a few times, again, let's say if the meeting is a month in the future, that's certainly something that you should do. And so those things together will help you to have a successful meeting more often than not.
Mark: I love that you spoke about the agenda there because I think this is where a lot of people miss the boat, they kind of fly by the seat of their pants when they come into the meeting and they don't have specific objectives that they want to achieve. I know that it's important to maintain flexibility and all that kind of stuff, but I don't think enough can be said about the need for a really good agenda coming in. And what you want to talk about? And then the objectives that you want to take out of that. One area where I think a lot of people miss the boat as well is now, once they've had the meeting, following up with minutes, right? Some really good minutes about what was discussed, what did we chat about? What did we agree to? What are the next steps? What are the deliverables with timelines that are associated with that? I think that is so, so, so critical. What are your thoughts about how you would capture the minutes of that meeting, do you bring in a recorder into the discussion? Do you bring a scribe to be able to take those minutes?
David Perry: Great point. And so it really depends upon where we are within the sales cycle. If it's pretty... It feels like there's a couple of different types of meetings. I mean, there are meetings where you're just kind of having a conversation and trying to educate each other about how you can work together. But then there are those really intense, let's say discovery sessions or presentations where every word out of the customer's mouth is gold in terms of how they're reacting to what you're presenting and the needs that they're expressing. And so for those types of meetings, yes, absolutely, you want to make sure that everyone possible is taking notes and you come back to the team, follow up with some type of summary. And so what I found is very, very useful, maybe I don't use it as much as I should, but I have used it on many occasions is something called a form letter, that is taken out of value selling. And basically, it's just a really nice way to summarize the problem, the solution and what that plan is going to be to move forward.
Mark: Hey, listeners. I want to tell you about another company that I run called Content Callout. It is a thought leadership brand marketing company. Now, what does that mean? It means that we take you as an executive or entrepreneur, a leader of a small or medium sized business, and we turn you into a thought leader online. We take your personal brand and we amp it up to 11. So that you can lead with confidence knowing that people will recognize you, recognize your brand and recognize your business because of the thought leadership approach that you've taken on social media, through content creation and content distribution, as well as engaging with all of your following online. How do you get involved in this? Easy, easy, easy. Just go to contentcallout. com/ getstarted, and you will see there three different options that will allow you to take your thought leadership brand for yourself and for your business to the next level. We are super excited to talk to you about this. We've seen some massive growth with the businesses that we've been working with. Very, very exciting time for us. Look at that. We appreciate it. Now back to your show. Do you think that, obviously with the rise of COVID and all the nonsense that we have to deal with now, do you think it's made it easier to take those notes because you could record team's meeting or a Zoom meeting or something like that, or you have the note- taker applications that dial in at the same time. Do you think it's become easier to do that now, or is it more difficult?
David Perry: Yeah, I mean, I haven't thought about as much. But I actually think it's become a little bit more difficult because what I've always really valued was not so much my notes or anyone else's notes, but really it's like that the team's analysis and that the team's review of how we're going to craft that message and come back with the right solution. And that has become more difficult because we're now distributed. So I used to just take it for granted, right? Like, we had our notes, we walked out of the meeting, we did a debrief and I was able to either craft it myself or someone else in the team could take it. So I really do miss that now that you point this out. And in terms of actually recording things, I mean, yeah, I mean the tools today are really amazing and so that can be replicated, but it doesn't happen as efficiently and as organically as it used to.
Mark: Yeah. I agree with that. I want to dive into a part of the book that I really, really love called, facing the dark side. Let's talk about that for a second. What do you mean by facing the dark side?
David Perry: Yeah, I mean, when I think about that, it's like, again, so each part, in putting this book together I wanted to really strain out all of the learnings that I had from Adobe, Amazon, Google, and IBM, and give those to the reader so they have them for themselves and they can understand, what are those things that are going to take them off their game, that are going to cause them to come home at night and just take their work home with them, and be flustered, and be on edge and start to lose their spirit. And that's really what this chapter is about. So it's not about anything unethical or anything like that, right? Or even... It's really just about the inner game. And it comes down to, I would say improper response to an external situation that you're going through. So that uncertainty and not being able to deal with it in the right way can send you down into a dark place. And what I found so fascinating about this particular topic is that, I've seen even very successful people or top salespeople momentarily bounce into this space, but then they bounce right out. But I've seen other people that are just existing, I call it in the dark side of sales, because they're sucked down into any one of the things I talk about in the chapter. Right? So, and I think that I didn't mention COVID of course, I didn't think global pandemic, right? But a lot of other things that can happen and certainly the pandemic is causing some of these things to happen. And so, it could be anything from not reacting properly to an acquisition, to a territory change, to a comp plan, to a manager, to any type of reorganization that can happen. So these are all things that you need to expect are going to happen and just recognize it. And by focusing on gratitude, when you do get into this dark head space, it can help you snap right back. And again, it's that notion of expectation, right? So now that you see that, no matter what company you work for, if it's Google, Amazon... It could be the greatest company in the world, you're going to find yourself in challenging situations, some tough times and things are going to be uncertain, and so this is my way of helping readers to deal with those challenging situations.
Mark: Yeah. Very very cool, man. What do you see as the most common part of this? What's the most common funk that many salespeople find themselves in?
David Perry: I'm not sure what the... Let me think about the most common one, but it's kind of look... It's like there's this look on their faces. It's like their tone of the conversation when you meet with them, it's like... And it can be any one of these things. So it's very easy to diagnose when people are in the throws of what I call the dark side of sales. The most common ones it could be, maybe they think they have a rough territory, right? Or maybe it's that reorganization, or maybe they feel that their quota is misaligned with their territory. So any one of those things can... I think those are some of the most common ones that I see, that I cover in the chapter.
Mark: I like that you focus on gratitude as well, I think that's a big portion of... Or a big part of mental health that I think a lot of people don't necessarily pay attention to. And the focus on gratitude can definitely help bounce you out of those kinds of situations. To a certain extent you talk about realism, and making sure your expectations are even appropriate really, based on your response. And I really liked that because it throws in a dose of reality for a lot of people, I think. Because a lot of people get stuck in this sort of self- defeating mindset of like, it's someone else or someone else's thing, or this was done to me, or I have no control over the situation, instead of focusing on, is this even the right way and thinking about it? What is the realistic and most appropriate way to think about the situation that I'm in? And I really like how you focused on that. That was really, really cool.
David Perry: Thank you.
Mark: The last question I have for you, as we begin to wrap up, is this idea of assembling sort of your dream team or having a team- based approach to sales. Speak to me about that, because I think a lot of people approach sales is sort of like a lone wolf scenario where they kind of think they need to go it alone and all that kind of stuff. What do you mean by assembling the dream team?
David Perry: I'm just laughing, because I think that at some point in my career that I did think it was like a lone wolf situation and every once in a while, I'm like, oh, well, I can go it alone, but you know you absolutely cannot go it alone. And so the way that chapter starts out is like, I just closed a large deal and I'm feeling really good about myself. And then as I started listing out all the people that were involved, I had like 60 names and be like, well, did I really do anything here? Right? So the point is that there are so many people in these enterprise deals, both on the customer, on the partner side, within your own company, not to mention there're hundreds of people that have actually helped to create the product in a lot of cases in these large enterprise companies. So, so much has gone into it. So the notion of being a lone wolf I think it's really laughable in the enterprise sales space, right? Because it has to be a team. And it's just not possible because these applications are so complex that, I mean, it could be many lifetimes learning the different dimensions of a solution, and how that's going to fit within the customer's environment. Not to mention that specific industry application and all the different ways that the technology is going to be used across hundreds, if not thousands of people and the downstream processes that are going to be changed. So it really does have to be a team. And so what I mean about building the dream team is that, so you may or may not be able to pick your team, right? But I do think you can turn any team into a dream team by focusing on the best aspects that each individual has to offer and making each team member feel valued for their perspective. And so I don't think it really helps to be overly critical of any team member. And rather than that, just focus on helping and plugging the hole with somebody else, some other resource, your own expertise, or having a team pull together. And so that's really the essence of that chapter. And then I also give a lot of examples of different team dynamics and how we know when things are going well and what to do. And also some of the warning signs for when a team is going off the rails and how to pull things back. So, and one of the things that get asked the most about in this chapter, well, it was really two. I think one is partners. I think how to work with partners, and the other is how to work with executives. Because I think both of those things can be pretty daunting. So from the partner side, I think you have to have a lot of humility because you can, as an enterprise salesperson, you might be working with a partner executive who has worked at the client, let's say partner, by the way, let me just define that quickly. That's, let's say, a consulting partner, a systems integrator, maybe even another software vendor, but a lot of times as enterprise salespeople, we're working with these other entities that are delivering services or that it's almost like they're as much, they're so embedded with the client they're almost like the clients themselves. And so when I was talking about humility, I mean, you might be speaking with someone who work at the client for 20 years that you're trying to sell to, and now they're on the partner side delivering services back to the company they worked at, you need to listen to what they have to say and try to work with them and take their advice. It can be challenging because in these deals there's so many different directions that they can go, there might be a variety of partners. It's complex, but I think that's the cost of doing business within that space. Did you want me to talk about the executive side as well or...?
Mark: Yes, definitely.
David Perry: Okay. Sure. And when it comes to the executives, I've seen things go well and not go well. And so what I've learned is, there's a bare minimum. And I also think that it can be very intimidating, right? If you're going to bring in the president of your company to a meeting or your CEO or your SVP, whatever senior level person that might be, that's a very, very intimidating situation. So, and you might be, you again, fall into like a little bit of a spiral. So I wanted to help to pull the reader out of that by giving them a very simple set of things that they can do in order to make sure that they're successful with that executive engagement. And so the most important thing is making sure you know how that individual likes to contribute. So, I mean, it seems sort of basic and so obvious, but if you're bringing an executive, you might think, oh, well, they know everything, right? And maybe they do, but they still have this way in which they want to contribute and if you put them in a situation where they feel they're not adding value, or they're not able to make a difference, or it's a waste of their time, that's not good, right? It's not good for you. It's not good for the client. That is not good for the company. So that's really important. Then there's really three things. It's, make sure you understand, or they understand what the outcome is you're looking for, what the risk is in that particular meeting, so they don't step on a landmine, right? You don't want that to happen either. They need to know what the risks are, what the hot buttons are for the customer. And then the last piece is, make an ask of the executive. Like, what is it that they can do or change or give you, or give the customer that can make a difference is something that you can do yourself. And it can be something as small as like maybe changing a term in an agreement, or as large as devoting some resources to write the ship, or to give the customer a sense that you're making an investment in them and then they'll be more willing to reciprocate.
Mark: I love that, man. As we close up, what's the last piece of advice that you'd like to leave the listeners today?
David Perry: I think that the last thing I'd like to leave the listeners with is that, as you read the book, it's really about putting these things into action. So that's how I close it out. Just once you read the book, whatever it is, I mean, even if you're a couple of chapters in, try to take at least one or two actions that day that reflect things you've learned. And so you're going to really take it to heart, and by putting it to action, that will help you to, over time, get to a better result.
Mark: Very, very cool, man. If the listeners want to reach out to you and buy your book, how do they reach out to you and how do they buy your book?
David Perry: You can reach out to me on LinkedIn. And so if you search for David Perry and you put in Adobe, Amazon, Google, you should find me no problem. And then you can buy the book on Amazon. And at the very moment, it happens to be available for 99 cents on Kindle, and it's also available on Paperback. And so, that promotion is going to last another week or so.
Mark: Amazing. David, thank you so much for being on, man. Thank you for writing this book, I think it was very needed in the enterprise sales world. And thank you for sharing your wisdom today.
David Perry: Thank you, Mark. It was really great speaking with you. Thanks for having me.
Mark: Hey, friends. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with friends and colleagues so that they can benefit from it as well. If you find Negotiations Ninja Podcast worthy, please go on to iTunes and give us a cool rating with a nice review. We certainly appreciate every single one that we get because it helps us to understand who is listening, how they're listening, and what it is they like. If there's something that you would like me to discuss around negotiation, influence or persuasion, give me a shout. You know how to reach me on social media, or you can get me on my website, which is www. negotiations. ninja.