Steve Weinberg has spent his life selling and helping others sell better, more, and faster. He is an expert at building, guiding, and sustaining high-caliber sales teams and creating exemplary standards in account management. He has authored Above Quoted Performance to transfer his knowledge to others who want to improve their sales results.
In this episode, Steve shares with us the importance of knowing the real needs of the market, gaining trust and building relationships with your target market, and using the most influential, free sales tool in the market– LinkedIn.
Don’t miss out on your chance to take your sales outcomes to the next level. Tune in to this episode with Steve Weinberg and gain the knowledge you need to become a top-tier sales performer.
What you will learn from this episode:
● Find out how you can avoid the recipe for sales failure
● Learn why LinkedIn is a free, powerful, and influential platform for your sales needs
● Understand the importance of staying in touch with the real needs of the market
“Selling is really all about providing solutions that people want to buy, and also having the buyer trust you.”
– Steve Weinberg
Valuable Free Resource:
- How to achieve that above-quota sales performance that you’ve always wanted without the cliche “spammy” messages: www.steveweinbergsales.com
02:54 – Why is it that 50% of sales professionals are not making quota?
05:27 – Steve shares what are the key things you should dive in and pay attention to more
06:17 – The Buyer-Seller Relationship: What selling is really all about
08:50 – The Art and Science of Selling: Steve talks about what is the “edge”
09:45 – How should you really be doing your sales?
12:30 – Steve tackles the differences between doing sales before, during, and after the pandemic
14:28 – How can you mitigate the changes the pandemic brought to sales?
15:40 – The Math of the Funnel: What is a funnel and what is the secret to effective funnels?
19:30 – The Secret Sauce: How to use LinkedIn as a powerful sales platform
24:13 – Q: Why should women consider sales as a career? Do you have to be an extrovert to be in sales? A: Sales can be very rewarding, both professionally and financially. And I’ve been employed at companies where the salesperson, where the person that had the greatest earnings in the year was a woman in sales.
25:40 – Visit Steve’s website to learn more about the secrets to securing sales the new way: www.steveweinbergsales.com
“The key thing that I think the sales managers and company managers need to do is to be in touch with the salespeople and their pipeline, and understand what important features or problems their buyers want to solve and work on ways to help them do that.” – Steve Weinberg
“In order to have the edge and to succeed, you have to understand to make the sales methodology that your company may have chosen, follow the steps that you would ordinarily take, understand that you have to be agile, but also know that you need to be creative in order to solve problems for the buyer.” – Steve Weinberg
“Sales is still mostly a sequential process. You don’t walk in the door and say, “Here’s what I have. Oh, by the way, let’s close. Buy from me right now.” – Steve Weinberg
“You can determine how many unqualified prospects or suspects need to go in at the top in order to reach the goal that you want at the bottom.” – Steve Weinberg
Ways to Connect with Steve Weinberg:
- Website: www.steveweinbergsales.com
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steveweinbergsales/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steven.weinberg.925
Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown:
- Website: https://www.sarahebrown.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/knowguides
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahebrownphd/
Full Episode Transcript:
Steve Weinberg 0:00
Salespeople need to have confidence and they need to understand why they’re there, what they’re doing, and how they can help the customer.
Sarah E. Brown 0:16
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women, where we talk about the challenges senior female leaders face in being happy and successful at work. I’m your host, Dr. Sarah E. Brown.
Sarah E. Brown 0:35
My guest today is Steve Weinberg. He has spent his life selling and helping others sell better, sell faster, and sell more. He’s an expert at building, guiding, and sustaining high-caliber sales teams, and creating exemplary standards in account management. He has over three decades of leadership experience in sales, including Vice Presidencies at Dun & Bradstreet Software, AC Nielsen, Solcorp (then part of EDS, now HP), and Deloitte and Touche. Steve earned a BA in Economics / Business Administration from North Park University and an MBA from the Loyola University of Chicago. He’s also a CPA, and has experience in accounting, consulting, and has a graduate-level economics instructor. He’s married and has two adult children. He is the author of Above Quota Performance, which was released in October of 2022. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. So welcome, Steve!
Steve Weinberg 1:52
Thank you, Sarah! Very pleased to be here.
Sarah E. Brown 1:55
Well, I’m always happy to have somebody who has an angle on sales that will help me and my listeners better understand this field. And so this is going to be a great conversation. And I want to start off with a claim you make in your book that absolutely startled me! And that is, over 50% of sales professionals are not making quota. How can that be?
Steve Weinberg 2:23
That’s absolutely a true statistic. I’ve got about five or six really good sources that I checked out on this. And my own experience in sales is that it’s consistent with that. And, I think, what’s even more amazing is that many companies have really accepted this as kind of a given, that this is the way it is and it can’t be changed. And I believe it can be changed.
Sarah E. Brown 2:50
And what are the reasons for that? What are the reasons?
Steve Weinberg 2:53
There are a lot of reasons. First of all, if you asked salespeople, they would tell you their quota is too high. So that’s their simple answer. But the real answer is that, perhaps, salespeople are not doing a good enough job in qualifying leads, finding leads, and prospecting. I think they’re, perhaps, their messaging with their buyers is not very good. I think they’re not doing a very good job of explaining the value propositions to buyers. And I think, in many cases, they don’t meet with the key decision-makers at companies. And then later on, when they find out they lost, they are completely flabbergasted and they don’t understand. So I think those are some of the key reasons. I think a lot of times also receive inadequate coaching. And onboarding. In some companies, their training consists of a day or two of product training, and then, “Here’s your territory and go out and sell”. And that’s a recipe for failure. And companies also don’t allow for a training period. They’ll put you on quota immediately. And then if you haven’t sold in two or three months, then they put you on some performance plan. And then shortly after that, you’ll either be released or you’ll do something– either a miracle to make your sales in order to keep your job. So there are a lot of reasons for this!
Sarah E. Brown 4:23
So it’s like sink or swim?
Steve Weinberg 4:26
It is sink or swim. And I think companies have recently gotten a lot better at this. There are sales-enablement functions that have now come into being that is focused on getting salespeople up and running. But for the most part, sales managers are given a quota and they’re pushing their salespeople hard to reach the quota. And if a salesperson doesn’t do well there, they usually are cut and replaced. And that is also expensive for the company. And it can be very life-altering for the salespeople themselves. I’ve seen some very negative consequences of that.
Sarah E. Brown 5:06
So what would be just a few things that the senior female executives that are listening to this or the entrepreneurial leaders who are not directly selling themselves, but they are probably managing businesses where there are salespeople in it, what should they pay attention to, to try and reverse the situation?
Steve Weinberg 5:27
Well, first of all, I would like to say that everybody’s in sales. So I subscribe to the Warren Buffett theory that, no matter what you do in a company, you’re in sales. You’re either supporting salespeople, you’re helping salespeople, and managers are often called on to go in and meet with buyers, explain what their strategies are, and so forth. But the key thing that I think the sales managers and company managers need to do is to be in touch with the salespeople and their pipeline, understand what important features or problems their buyers want to solve and work on ways to help them do that.
Sarah E. Brown 6:12
Okay, on particular customers? You know, like, on a customer-by-customer basis, is that-?
Steve Weinberg 6:18
Right. I mean, selling is really all about providing solutions that people want to buy and also having the buyer trust you. So the salespeople need to build trust with the buyer. But also, the buyer needs to see something that will make her decide to buy from this particular company. And that is whether or not there’s value in what you have. And I think a lot of companies will build a solution or a product, and not really understand the value that it does bring to the buyer. So I encourage management, sales management, and executive managers to go out on sales calls with the salespeople so that they can understand the issues, what their prospects or buyers are looking for, and what they need to do to make those buyers more comfortable with what they’re selling.
Sarah E. Brown 7:11
Okay, so if I’m an executive in a company or an entrepreneurial leader, what you’re suggesting is I should accompany my salespeople in making some sales calls, and I should get more involved in problem-solving on their behalf so that I can stay in touch with what the real needs in the market are. Is that the essence of it?
Steve Weinberg 7:33
Yep, absolutely! So that you know what the issues are. And so you understand what the buyers are looking for. Most buyers will be very informative to you. And they’ll tell you what they need and what they want, and why they’re not buying from you. So it’s really good. You know, I found many times in my working career where I would go back and tell management that the market is looking for these particular things in the product and the product management people never anticipated that. And sometimes they didn’t believe me. So I would end up trying to drive them out to meet with prospects, and hear that for themselves so that we can meet their needs. Because if we don’t meet, our needs are not going to buy from us. It’s as simple as that.
Sarah E. Brown 8:24
Okay, so getting more in touch with the customers themselves and then working with the salespeople on problem-solving around the real needs will keep them overall in touch with the market and allow them to manage all aspects of the business in line with that?
Steve Weinberg 8:39
Sarah E. Brown 8:40
I get it. You talk about another concept in your book called “the Edge”. Would you explain what that is? And how would I know if I had it?
Steve Weinberg 8:50
Well, I think the idea of the edge is that salespeople need to have confidence is one. And they need to understand why they’re there, what they’re doing, and how they can help the customer. And I also talk about whether or not sales is an art or a science. And a lot of people will argue one way or another. Science means something that’s very clearly defined and you follow certain steps. And art is something where you can be very creative. In my opinion, sales are both. So in order to have the edge and to succeed, you have to understand to make the sales methodology that your company may have chosen, follow the steps that you would ordinarily take, understand that you have to be agile, but also know that you need to be creative in order to solve problems for the buyer.
Sarah E. Brown 9:45
Do you provide guidance either in your consulting or in your book around how to choose a sales methodology that works?
Steve Weinberg 9:54
Yes, I think you know there are a lot of really good sales methodologies that are available. And I think. for most companies, the problem is they don’t follow them. There’s, you know, I’m acquainted with four or five of them that I think are outstanding. But it’s important, right now, in sales for a company to choose a methodology and follow that because in order to manage your funnel and your pipeline, we need to know where everybody is at on it. And we need to determine what the best practices are in order to help close the sale. We do understand that, at times, we need to vary. But sales is still mostly a sequential process. You don’t walk in the door and say, “Here’s what I have. Oh, by the way, let’s close. Buy from me right now.” You need to go through the orderly process of explaining what you can provide and the benefits that you provide to the buyer, and then answer any questions they have and go through that process. Now on the buying side, it’s completely nonlinear. So the buyers will go everywhere, and they don’t necessarily follow a process.
Sarah E. Brown 11:17
Hi, this is Sarah Brown, again, the host of the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. I hope you’re enjoying this episode and gaining some tips and inspiration on how you can be happier, more successful, and experience less stress at work. If you would like to learn more about how you can empower the women in your organization to do the same, simply click on the show notes to see how you can connect with me. As an added bonus for my podcast guests, you will see how you can book 30 minutes with me to explore how you can implement a scalable self coaching program for the woman in your organization. Simply visit bookachatwithsarahebrown.com. Now back to this informative episode!
Sarah E. Brown 12:15
Okay, so that’s part of the art then, is you follow a process on your side but recognize there ain’t one on the other side. Is that it?
Steve Weinberg 12:23
That is correct. Yes! And even more so lately.
Sarah E. Brown 12:27
Why? What’s happened lately that-
Steve Weinberg 12:30
Well, I think there are a lot of things that have happened lately. The Coronavirus has been one of them that’s really changed the whole way of selling. But I think what’s happened in the last 10 years or so is that buyers have become much more educated. That buying is really much more now of a team process– where before, it may have been one or two or three people and now it’ll be a cross-functional team and a company. And the decision is made on a consensus basis today. Normally, where in the past, it may have been one or two people saying, “I like this better. Let’s go with it.” And since the Coronavirus in March 2020, companies have limited access from sellers to buyers, both. Not only are we not allowed on the premises, but in addition to that, we’re not even allowed too much access. We’re not allowed enough access through Zoom calls or emails. I think the amount- what I’ve read is, the amount of time that companies are spending now with sellers has decreased by at least 50% as compared to where it was before the Coronavirus. So that makes it even more challenging for the salespeople because there’s limited interaction with the buyer.
Sarah E. Brown 13:48
Well, it would be harder to figure out what the needs are, then. That just accentuates this problem that you were describing with only 50% making quota!
Steve Weinberg 13:57
Right, exactly! And you know, it’s hard enough when you have information and you can meet with people. And it’s challenging. But then when your access is limited, and you can’t meet with people, and your access is through Zoom calls maybe once every other week, or emails or texts or so forth, it often results in a guessing game on the part of the salespeople.
Sarah E. Brown 14:23
Do you have any ideas on how to mitigate that?
Steve Weinberg 14:26
I think the best way to do that, I mean understanding today that it’s hard to get invited to meet with people. I think the main objective is to explain to somebody what information you’re trying to obtain from them and ask for their cooperation in providing it. And I have found that most people, maybe even 90%, are very cooperative. And if you explain to them, “Well, I’m trying to provide a solution to you, but I need to understand more about how you operate. What problems are you having today? What are your challenges? What are your deficiencies today? The more information that I can get from you on that, the more I can address the problem in a better way.”
Sarah E. Brown 15:15
Okay, I understand that! So recognizing that a substantial number of my listeners are entrepreneurial leaders, I want to address another thing you talk about. And that’s the secret to effective funnels. But if you would start, for those who may not know exactly what a funnel is, could you just define a funnel and then, tell us what that secret is?
Steve Weinberg 15:40
Okay, a funnel, we use the shape of a funnel to really represent what the seller or the salesperson’s activity level is. And normally, there are a lot of leads or suspects at the top, and they’re narrowed down over time, so that, in the end, there may be only a small number. So to just kind of give you an idea, you could have 5000 suspects, which end up into maybe 500 qualified prospects, which you contact, and then those could end up into maybe 100 companies where you’re being seriously considered. And other than that maybe you’re the finalist about five or six times, and then you hope to win, let’s say, three or four of those. So if you kind of represent that on a graph, it looks like a funnel, because it narrows as it goes down. Now, what I have found is that a lot of people don’t understand what I call the math of the funnel. And what they try to do is they’ll start with, let’s say, 10 prospects at the top, and try to bring 10 all the way down to the bottom, and it just doesn’t work that way, so it won’t narrow. So 10, if they only have 10 at the top, and they want to close 10, that’s not going to happen. Because out of those 10, five will probably not make a decision. And the other five that make a decision probably won’t all go with you. So you may only close one or two of those. And then that would end up being a failure. And another thing is that when salespeople and sales managers do what we call “account reviews”, where they sit down with the salesperson and find out what their activity is, a lot of times they’ll say- well, let’s say your quota for the year is a million dollars. And you have right now, in your pipeline, $300,000 that’s actively in your pipeline. You’ve close $200,000. So how can you possibly hit a million dollars, if that’s your goal? And I think that’s a reality check that the salespeople need to understand, they need to add to that pipeline. And one of the reasons that I mentioned earlier that salespeople don’t reach their quota, is they don’t do enough activity and put in prospects at the top of the funnel that will work their way down to the bottom.
Sarah E. Brown 18:11
Okay, so would I be correct in summarizing that the secret is getting enough coming into the funnel? The math is getting enough coming into the funnel and understanding the realistic revenue potential at each level.
Steve Weinberg 18:28
Yes, and for every company, the success rate at every stage of the funnel is fairly uniform, that when you sit down and work with somebody in sales management, you say, “Well, how many unqualified prospects become qualified into, let’s say a percent, like 50%.” And then how many go through that? It’s fairly steady within each company and varies from company to company. So you can determine how many unqualified prospects or suspects need to go in at the top in order to reach the goal that you want at the bottom.
Sarah E. Brown 19:08
Ooh, okay! Well, I like approaching things as math problems. Math was my strength. So let me just ask you one other question, and that has to do with LinkedIn because it has become more and more of a sales tool of late. So any advice counsel or ideas you want to share with us about LinkedIn and sales?
Steve Weinberg 19:30
LinkedIn is what I call the secret sauce. And salespeople that are not using LinkedIn to prospect, in my opinion, are committing sales malpractice because it’s available to you. It’s free, and it’s outstanding! Now, before I retired, I closed the largest sale in our company’s history using LinkedIn to find the prospect, and let me tell you how I did that. First of all, most people are acquainted with LinkedIn as a career tool. But, if you look at the number of business leaders across the world that have their profile on LinkedIn, it’s astonishing! It may be somewhere in upwards of 90% of all the people that you would ever want to try to reach. So what I would suggest to somebody is that you target companies that are in, what you call, your company’s “sweet spot”. And you follow those companies on LinkedIn. So you could do that. Let’s say I was in the insurance business, and I wanted to sell to somebody that was in an insurance business like Allstate Insurance or State Farm. So I could select those, and then I could select the titles of people that I would ordinarily sell to, and identify those people on LinkedIn, and reach out to those people, invite them to connect with me. And absolutely do not try to sell them right away, because that would be perceived as spam. And it would really knock you out of the process. But I would build a relationship with them by sharing information that I have, that they perhaps don’t know. So it’s market information, information about their competitors, industry information, anything that would help them and give them information that they don’t already have. And build a relationship with them, build trust with them. And then at some point in time, you could then ask them, if they’re considering a solution or a product in the area that you have, and whether or not they’re interested in discussing it with you. And even, I found that many times, they would say to me, you know, the person that I would identify would say to me, “Well, I don’t do that, but Susan does that.” And I’d say, “Well, can you please give me an introduction to Susan.” And getting an introduction from that person to Susan is much better than me calling on Susan myself. So your success rate of engaging with Susan on a sales, and a sales endeavor is much greater with a warm introduction like that. But using LinkedIn is, to me, a no-brainer. I would encourage people to do it. It works on that, some people are aware of Kevin Bacon, Six Degrees of Separation type concept. It works on that. So for example, if I went in there, and I was looking for someone, I was targeting someone and I saw that Sarah Brown was connected with that person, then I would reach in Sarah Brown as a connection of mine. I will then reach out to Sarah and say, “Sarah, can you please introduce me to Nancy at this company. I see that she’s a connection of yours. And I really want to meet with her or discuss how I could possibly help her company.” I feel my track record, in the end, has a success rate of about 80%.
Sarah E. Brown 23:04
Steve Weinberg 23:05
About 80% of the time, that person will do that. And again, the receiving person will then react because they received this recommendation from their trusted friend. So I strongly encourage people to use LinkedIn. The basic version is free. Companies can upgrade to paid versions, which even give you more power. They give you this ability to do in-mails, which are really sending messages to people that you’re not connected with. But I’m a little wary of that because I would rather have a warm introduction or build a relationship with a person. We all know right now, you know, I get probably three or 400 emails a day that is soliciting me for something. And I hit the ‘delete’, ‘delete’, ‘delete’! I do this first thing in the morning every day. So to get past that, you need not be spam. You need that to be considered spam by the recipient.
Sarah E. Brown 24:06
Got it! So Steve, what’s one question that I should have asked you that I didn’t?
Steve Weinberg 24:13
Well, I think a good question is, why should women consider sales as a career? And also, do you have to be an extrovert to be in sales? But I think the answer to that is that sales can be very rewarding, both professionally and financially. And I’ve been employed at companies where the salesperson, where the person that had the greatest earnings in the year was a woman in sales. In some cases, even earn more than the CEO of the company. And I’ve also seen that many corporate executives have now risen through the ranks of sales into leadership roles. The best companies will seek capable women to help fill those roles, And another aspect is people say, “Well, do I have to be real salesy? Do I have to be an extrovert?” And the answer is no, you can be an introvert and succeed in sales! Because today it’s more about trust in your expertise. So if you’re an expert in a particular field, and you can transfer that information and knowledge to your buyer or prospect, you will be perceived as a person who brings value to them. So I strongly encourage women to consider sales as a career because I think it can be very rewarding.
Sarah E. Brown 25:35
Well, thank you for that. And Steve, where could people find you if they want more information? Can you give us a-?
Steve Weinberg 25:40
You can find me on my website, which is www.steveweinbergsales.com. That’s S-T-E-V-E-W-E-I-N-B-E-R-G, sales.com.
Sarah E. Brown 25:52
Great! And I commend the book, Above Quota Performance, to you as well. Steve, thank you so much for being with us today!
Steve Weinberg 26:01
You’re welcome, Sarah! Thank you very much for having me.
Sarah E. Brown 26:05
Thanks for listening to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. If you like what you’re hearing, please go to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. And if you would like more information on how we can help women in your organization to thrive, then go to www.sarahebrown.com. You can sign up for our newsletter, read show notes and learn more about our podcast guests, read my blog, browse through the books, or contact us for a chat. Goodbye for now!