Episode 301: From Tech Sales to Business Conversation with Eric Shaver

GUEST: Eric Shaver, Managing Partner at Kensei Partners

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So many sales professionals get caught up in the nitty-gritty of products and tech specs.

Then, they wonder why their deals go wrong.

We believe it is because they don't have genuine business conversations.

So, how can sales professionals switch from sales to a business dialect?

To help us with this incredible topic today, we have Eric Shaver, Managing Partner at Kensei Partners. Since 2008, Eric has personally trained over 20,000 quota-carrying and non-quota-carrying sales professionals across 33 countries in North America, EMEA/MENA, APJ/ANZ, Greater China, and Latin America. Leveraging his 19 years of successful technology sales and leadership, Eric closes the systemic financial, linguistic, and engagement management-centric sales execution gaps that corrupt revenue and operating margins.

Are You Speaking Sales or Business?

With vast experience training sales professionals across 33 countries, Eric highlights a universal challenge in the sales industry: the tendency to adopt a distinct "sales dialect" and the difficulty in saying "no." Regardless of location or training, salespeople often start their careers unprepared, imitating the "Tommy Boy" approach or "fake it until you make it."

Eric stresses the importance of the sales team learning to navigate customer requests more strategically. Instead of immediately saying yes to demands, he advocates for a "maybe" approach, encouraging salespeople to set clear requirements for committing resources. This will help you preserve dignity and resources, but also challenge the conventional sales mindset, pushing for a dialogue that aligns more closely with business needs rather than sales pressures.

“Everyone starts their career as Tommy Boy. I don't care what you say. We all start as Tommy Boy and Enterprise B2B sales. We don't know what we're doing. We're faking it, and then we get the training we get. We get sales training, and we learn how processes work. We are in discovery and we learn qualifications. We learn advancement. All this stuff, the one common thread, the one thing I see that everybody does the same way, which is also what we tend to get wrong, is that here it is. We all speak in an unmistakable sales dialect, irrespective of who we're working for. We're all taught how to speak like salespeople”.

Eric Shaver, Managing Partner at Kensei Partners

How to Master the Art of Value-Driven Business Conversations

Shift from product-centric to strategic business discussions that resonate with executives and decision-makers. Focus on understanding and articulating the value your product or service brings to the market rather than just its features and functions.

Also, highlight how it addresses critical business needs, aligns with strategic goals, and generates positive cash flows or operational efficiencies over time. This approach moves the dialogue away from budget constraints to a more meaningful conversation about long-term value and investment, helping to establish a deeper connection with prospects and ultimately driving more successful outcomes.

“I have a massive problem with the sales orthodoxy because it hasn't really changed in any meaningful way since we got personal selling skills. You go way back to the thirties and forties, and it's the same”.

Eric Shaver, Managing Partner at Kensei Partners

Beyond Pipeline to Genuine Business Value

Engaging effectively in business requires a mutual exchange of information to determine if a collaboration is worthwhile, focusing on asking the right questions to the right people. Rather than sticking to arbitrary sales targets like a 3X or 4X pipeline, focus on real business needs and outcomes.

By adopting a business-oriented approach, prioritize genuine opportunities and create more meaningful and productive dialogues. This means moving away from superficial metrics and instead highlighting the value each party brings to the table, ensuring the resources are invested wisely for mutual benefit.

“If I'm truly curious about them and their business, it turns into a great conversation. But you also gotta be asking the right questions of the right people”.

Eric Shaver, Managing Partner at Kensei Partners

Redefining Sales Success

Many organizations suffer from ineffective sales strategies due to leadership pushing for unrealistic goals without considering the value or feasibility of opportunities. To initiate a cultural shift and support sales teams in adopting more thoughtful approaches, Eric highlights the importance of leadership, often formed of individuals promoted for their efficiency in traditional sales tactics.

Sales now require engaging with executives on a deeper business level. Eric advocates for a transformation in sales messaging to align with business value. By cutting a portion of the pipeline that produces minimal revenue impact, organizations can focus on more promising opportunities.

Now that you know how to shift from sales to a true business dialect in tech, check out the full list of episodes at The B2B Revenue Executive Experience. If you enjoy the show, instructions to rate and review it are found here.

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