In her session, Ashley will explain how the idea of Design Thinking is linked to Sales and addresses the business needs of the customer’s customer. It answers the question– “what is my customer trying to solve for their customer”. Only then can the sales organization become effective in taking a consultative role, helping the proximal customer, and as a consequence becoming a valuable partner to the buyer organization. The model takes into account factors that affect the customer’s buying decision, such as desirability, feasibility, and viability.
I will quickly introduce her, and we’ll get into the session. Ashley is a co-founder of Somersault Innovation. Somersault Innovation is a sales transformation firm. They pioneered bringing the tools of design thinking to the go-to-market community to help people stay customer-obsessed in the sales process and grow revenue. The tools are practical and help sellers speak to their customers’ business outcomes in a differentiated way and co-create. Some of it you’ll remember from the partnering discussion we had during Fred’s session. The results have been significant in terms of pipeline growth, deal velocity, and new revenue. Their clients include Microsoft, Salesforce, ServiceNow, VMware, Salesloft, and many others. Ashley is the author of “Naked Sales: How Design Thinking Reveals Customer Motives and Drives Revenue”, and this session is based on that. Ashley, over to you.show more
Thank you, Subhanjan. I appreciate being here and congratulations to you. I believe this is the first Lit Fest that you’ve hosted. It’s a great idea, so thank you. And thank you for giving us this stage. I have to say, I did write this book, but I wrote it with my business partner, Justin Jones, so just a shout out to him as well. I’ll talk a little bit about the book and particularly orient this conversation to tools in the book that you can use. If you’re a seller listening to this, I want to be practical and useful. I’ll spend most of the time sharing a few things. First of all, this book is meant to be a one plane-ride read, as I like to say. If you’re on a short plane ride, you should get right through it. It’s fun. It’s full of stories and tools. I highlighted a piece here. It’s got some drawings throughout it. And it’s full of tales from our work with those companies that you mentioned. And we wrote the book because we wanted to share this wisdom that we’ve discovered when we realized that the world of design thinking, which I’ll tell you more about, and the world of sales comes together really nicely to transform how people sell.
So, a lot of people ask us, “What is Naked Sales? Why did you name it that?” And of course, it’s provocative. And that was the first reason we named it that. But I guess more importantly, what we mean by naked sales is really about how do you shed the bravado of being in sales or the ego of sales and let go and just be your curious best authentic self, which I think your last speaker was just speaking about, so that you show up in an authentic way and really connect with your customers in order to grow pipeline and grow revenue. I have a background in sales. I’ve been in sales for over 25 years. My business partner has a background in innovation and consulting. We got together. We started a program called “Sell by Design”. And what that is, is we’re curators, I think, of taking the best tools in the world of design thinking that are going to transform how people sell, and giving those tools to sellers and then coaching them in the use of them in their strategic accounts. So let’s see, I’m going to move this forward. So you see on the left, we combined design thinking and sales, and wrote a book.
These are our clients. It’s boring. But I want to start out by telling you a story about Greyhound. And this is the first story in this book. This book has three parts. It has this story, the three-million-dollar bus ride. It has a part on the state of sales right now and then the model of “sell by design” and practical tools in each section.
So the story of Greyhound is the story of my friend Sachin Rai, who we started working with at Salesforce, probably six years ago. And he came into our course and he said, Greyhound is my account and I’ve already started creating an app for the drivers. I think it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to talk to them. And we said, Sachin, hold on a second. Just go get to know Greyhound as their customer. Get to know the people who work at Greyhound before you even start talking about your products and services.
So he went all in. He’s like an extreme user. He went down to the depot in San Francisco, the Greyhound depot. He talked to everybody. He talked to the baggage handlers. He talked to other customers. He talked to the drivers. He even took a bus ride eight hours down to LA and back. He learned all sorts of things, including what was an M7 report. An M7 report is something the drivers use to keep track of what’s working or not working on the bus. He then came back. He emailed the executives at Greyhound and he said, “Hey, I want to talk to you about my experience with Greyhound.” And he said he got 100% open rate because now he was talking about them, not about him and Salesforce.
Long story short, the executives were blown away that he had this experience that he could talk to the M7. And within about a year, it turned into a three-million-dollar global account. And what I love about this story is not only that revenue followed from this experience, but how well Sachin really put himself in the shoes of his customer or his customer’s customer and did this amazing job of discovery. And so, Sachin came back from that experience and said, “My talk track used to be about the Salesforce product. Now it’s based on my experience with the customer’s product.”
So, our question is always to the people we work with, the sellers or the account team— how can you put yourself on the Greyhound bus of your customer? Whether it’s B2B or B2C, there’s always some way for you to engage and really experience your customer, either as their customer or really understand the employee experience, whatever it may be that is not about you, but really about them.
So, you mentioned in the beginning, the results— these are just some of the results. And I just put it here because if you’re listening to this and you’re a seller, I know you care about pipeline and revenue. There’s real revenue that comes from really doing great discovery and using some of these tools. SalesLoft— Andrew Hamburger drove $4 million in a new account when we started working together because, again, he did this incredible discovery and then really turned what he learned into insights that mattered to the customer, that was about the customer. Salesforce, I already told you one story. AT&T— we worked with six global teams. They drove $65 million in pipeline. Actually, we just finished, just yesterday— we finished this work with Microsoft. And one of the sellers closed $900,000 in new revenue in the two months we were working with them.
It was amazing. And it’s not about us, it’s about these sellers who are using these tools to really do incredible discovery first and foremost. I’ll talk a little bit about design thinking. I like this model, not because I like ketchup. I actually don’t like ketchup, but I love this visual for what design thinking is. Heinz Ketchup, top of their category when they started out in the late 1800s, stayed at the top of their category for decades. And then they started to slip. They said, “Wait a minute, what’s going on here?” They smartly went out and watched their customers use their ketchup. And as you can imagine, if you ever use the old bottle of ketchup, it’s really hard to get the ketchup out actually. You have to turn it over, you hit the back, put your knife up there, try to get it out. So they started to see the bottle through the lens of their customer and they reoriented the bottle to this. And so it delivers more ketchup, it’s easier to use, and they went right back up to the top of their category. So this is the notion of design thinking, which is to see the world through the lens of your customer.
And design thinkers are the best at discovery out there. And that’s why we said, “Wait a second, what can we learn from these design thinkers who do great discovery that we could actually use in sales?” So I’m going to fly through a couple of these things because I want to get to a couple of tools to leave people with.
I just put this in here yesterday for the first time because I thought, you know what? At the end of the day, the mindset of design thinking is about customer centricity, putting the customer at the center of your conversations about how you create something, about how you talk about what you do. If you think about first— what do they care about? That will change the game for you. This is the first model to keep in mind. This comes from the world of design. Doesn’t really matter where it comes from. But it’s very useful when you think about, let’s say, your customer, and you can think about three different pieces.
You can think about the business, like what are they trying to achieve in their business? You can think about the technology that they have or that they may need to support their business. And then you can think about the people who work in the business, the customers of your customer. These are all people. And what a design thinker’s framework,— or what we would say is— start first by understanding what the people— your customer— cares about, and what their customers care about. Because that’s the starting point for great conversations. That’s the starting point for where value is created. If your customer doesn’t have any customers, they don’t have any business. So if you can start by understanding what your customer and their customers care about, then start to think about, “Okay, how can I really help them meet their business interests? What’s the technology needed?” When you have all three of them, that’s where things really get interesting, where you can sell things.
I’m going to leave you with one… I’m going to skip right through here. I want to show you one model that we work with which people find most useful. And this is the idea of creating a discovery strategy. And one place to start is to think about the macro priorities and the micro of your customer. So here’s the deal. Think about the macro priorities of your customer, meaning what are their big bets? What are they trying to do in the next one year, three year, five year? And then go straight to the bottom. I think about a traditional org chart, like flip it on its head. What at the bottom of that org chart are your end customer sets? And it looks like something like this. So you might have your individual end customers or end users at the bottom. You may have distributors that work with your customer, different verticals, different suppliers. Those are all different customer sets or end customer sets.
So if you’ve got both of those, once you understand both of those, then your job is to connect the dots. So which priorities map to which end customers? So for example, I’m going to show you the Greyhound example. What Sachin learned is their macro priorities were to enhance the passenger experience. They also wanted to attract millennials. They wanted to partner with big tech. Think about the buses going from San Francisco to Google or to Facebook. He therefore thought about the end user set. So who would be the end users for the passenger experience? It would be, of course, the passengers, people who take the buses. He thought about the different verticals that they wanted to engage with. In this case, they wanted to engage with tech. So then he started to focus on doing great discovery with these end users. Because if he could come back and talk about, in this case, the passenger experience from the point of view of a passenger, that’s gold. That’s what your customer wants to talk about. And that type of conversation is what transforms yourself into what the last speaker was talking about— the trusted advisor. So this is a really easy way to start to get good information that enables you to have a different conversation with your customer.
One of the questions from the last group was around, “How do I start the conversation?” I think one way to start the conversation is to say what you’ve learned about your customer. I know we just have two minutes left here. I’m going to show you one other thing. Empowering your discovery is two mindsets: curiosity and empathy. Here’s one last tip to leave you with. In terms of curiosity, when you’re in a conversation or when you’re doing your discovery, there are four things to pay attention to. Pay attention to what surprises you, hacks or adaptations what people do to get around the system, what people care about, meaning what do they value, what do they love, or what do they not like so much, and inconsistencies or contradictions. So if you pay attention to these four things in your conversations or what you’re noticing, and when you see them, dig in. So let’s say we’re in a conversation, you say something that I hadn’t thought of or I didn’t know, that’s surprising. Instead of just going right by that, I would say, “Oh, that’s surprising. I didn’t know that this was on the horizon for you. Could you tell me more about that?” Underneath all of these is a wealth of information. And if you use these prompts in your brain, it helps trigger you into this mindset of curiosity and to stay there and uncover great information.
So I’ll leave it at that. I’d love to hear from any of you on LinkedIn. Ashley Welch, Co-founder of Somersault Innovation. You can buy our book on Amazon. So many tools in there and I love to talk to anyone else who wants to reach out.
All right. Thanks, Ashley. I know you have to go but do you have time to take one question or are you hard out of time?
No, give me one question and then I’ll move on.
Okay, one question. Rajib.
How can we apply design thinking to outbound? Can we create differentiation through design thinking? So the last part is, yeah, absolutely, you can create differentiation. Many tech firms are starting to understand—I say tech because that’s where it tends to be—design thinking, and are starting to use design thinking to co-create the future vision with their customers. But it’s only at the top of the house. So it is very differentiated when you start to do the type of discovery that I just talked about and come into a conversation with that information. Very different from your competitors who most likely are coming in talking about their products and services. And how can you apply design thinking to outbound? I’d just say do a little bit of research, even if you can’t go as extreme as Sachin in doing a bus ride, get online. What are customers saying? Just even a little bit of information will help differentiate you and support you in getting those conversations.
Okay. Thank you so much for having me.
Great. That was wonderful, Ashley. Thank you for joining us. And I look forward to talking to you again soon.
Me too. Thanks so much and good luck with the rest of the day. All right. Take care.
Thank you. And guys, we are going to be back in a few minutes with Lisa Magnuson. Be there.show less
Ashley Welch is the Co-founder of Somersault Innovation. Somersault Innovation is a sales transformation firm. They pioneered bringing the tools of Design Thinking to the Go to Market Community to help people stay customer-obsessed in the sales process and grow revenue. The tools are practical, and help sellers speak to their customer’s business outcomes in a differentiated way and co-create. The results have been significant in terms of pipeline growth, deal velocity and new revenue. Their clients include Microsoft, Salesforce, ServiceNow, VMware, Salesloft and many others. Ashley co-authored “Naked Sales – How design thinking Reveals Customer Motives and drives revenue”.