About Bruce Scheer: Bruce Scheer is President of FutureSight and has over 20 years of business management and consulting experience. He brings unique and insightful perspectives to client engagements, reflecting his passion for technology, strategic marketing, and sales enablement. With confidence, optimism, and a sense of urgency, Bruce enjoys helping global IT services, software, hardware, and professional services organizations achieve marketing success and great business results. Before founding FutureSight, Bruce held executive positions in consulting firms and industries across North America and Asia. He also served as Vice President and West Coast Office Director for MSI Consulting, where he worked with industry-leading clients to identify strategic market opportunities and develop go-to-market campaigns for new products and services. A noted author and speaker, Bruce is available to share his expertise on a wide range of business topics, including the business value of IT and selling and marketing based on ROI. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Bruce.
In this episode, Nancy and Bruce discuss the following:
- The concept of a story that sizzles referred to Bruce’s recent book, “Inspire Your Buyers: Go to Market with a Story That Sizzles.”
- Consumer Dilemma: Overwhelming Choices.
- The core elements of a narrative that sizzles.
- Qualifying Decision-Makers correctly.
- Why evoking emotions in potential buyers is the primary objective for sales professionals.
- Sizzles is an amazing framework for how to design your sales story.
- Don’t be overwhelmed and bewildered by all the selection choices that are out there.
- Everything starts really with targeting the ideal buyer.
- People buy on emotion, and then they justify with logic.
- Don’t sell products, sell outcomes.
“ Well, it’s an evergreen problem. But it’s probably even more acute today. There are so many answers that buyers need to need to choose from. And I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this whole notion that too many options are shutting buyers down. The other thing is with all these options, you get into this whole selection buyers issue that also drives no decision. There’s just so many answers, you know, think about going out and buying a new car or something, you know, there’s so many answers to choose from, it might be overwhelming. So, how can you help your buyer buy? That’s the bottom line. And to do so, I do believe you need to have a story that sizzles, helps you stand apart from the competitive pack, and helps your buyer get over that hump of fear, uncertainty, and doubt to want to buy from you and buy from you. And that strategic narrative, that story carries the day with that objective.” – BRUCE.
“What other signals would they send that they’re an ideal client profile? I’m sure you’ve heard that ICP is the ideal client profile. So, we get very narrowly focused there. Then, from there, who within that account should I be talking to? Who’s the buyer who will carry the day and has the power to sway others within that organization? Yes, we should invest in this. So, who’s that consultant and professor down in California who coined this Steve Martin, but he calls it the bully with the Joe bully with the juice? Who’s that bully with the juice? Who should we target within that account? Now, typically, for a lot of the buying decisions that my clients face. There might be five or six people who might be part of that buying committee. But again, who’s the bully with the juice? And what’s their day job? What’s their role? What are their responsibilities? What are the challenges they have? And then what are the benefits we can bring them? So, it all starts there. That’s the first element, Nancy, target the right buyer.” – BRUCE.
“How do we characterize that problem, both verbally and visually? And that’s one thing, Nancy, that I think most organizations that I see as they go to market are missing the characterization of the problem they solve. They’re typically very solution-centric. “Hey, Nancy, I’ve got this new solution. Let me tell you all about it. Here’s what it looks like. Here’s what it feels like. Here are the benefits, features, and functions of that whole thing”. That’s not where you want to start; you want to start that narrative around the problem. And you want to plant that problem and point a spotlight on it, you know, just again, thinking of an analogy, think of that spotlight when you point it on something, that’s what people see. And then often they can’t unsee it when you do that well. And that’s the fun part; if you can crack that code, you’re typically going to sell way more and help so many buyers out by helping them have that clarity and conviction around the problem that you can help them solve.” – BRUCE.
Connect with Bruce Scheer:
Try Our Proven, 3-Step System, Guaranteeing Accountability and Transparency that Drives RESULTS by clicking on this link: https://oneofakindsales.com/call-center-in-a-box/
Connect with Nancy Calabrese:
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/oneofakindsales
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/One-Of-A-Kind-Sales-304978633264832/
- Website: https://oneofakindsales.com
- Phone: 908-879-2911
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ncalabrese/
- Email: email@example.com
Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese and it’s time again for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today and it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Bruce Shear, President of Inspire Your Buyers. His company provides a proven tested model to develop a compelling go-to-market narrative that accelerates revenue growth while rapidly bringing product, marketing, and sales teams into alignment. Bruce’s go-to-market narrative model gives companies the edge they’re looking for in achieving business growth goals. Bruce is also the President of FutureSight and the National Speakers Association Northwest. He brings unique and insightful perspectives to client engagements that reflect his passion for technology and strategic marketing and sales enablement. Welcome to the show, Bruce!
Bruce Scheer: Hey, thanks a lot, Nancy. Excited to be here. [1:21]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, really, you do a lot of things. So, let’s get right into it. So, I understand you recently published your book, Inspire Your Buyers, Go to Market with a Story That Sizzles. What is a story that sizzles?
Bruce Scheer: Good question. A story that sizzles Nancy, if you if you envision, I don’t know if you ever go to a Mexican restaurant. And, you know, so when somebody orders fajitas, you can hear the sizzling sound and everyone turns around and goes “Hey, what’s going on? You know, what’s that sound?”. And a lot of people know but they want to see if anybody is going to burn themselves. There’s a lot of excitement there. And that from an analogy perspective. I want to help the clients that I serve market stories at Sizzle. So, I want them to have a great narrative, a strategic narrative where the buyers that they’re seeking to serve to stand up and go: “Whoa, this sizzle”. This sounds different than anything else. I normally see. I’m interested. You’ve piqued my interest. I want to engage further. I want to understand if is this something worth investing in looking at, etc. So that’s what I mean by a go-to-market story that sizzles. And then funny enough, after we created that catchphrase, the subtitle for our best-selling book, we realized Sizzles is an amazing framework for how to design your sales story. And I think your audience will probably really appreciate that thinking through the dimensions of what makes sure your go-to-market story, your sales story sizzles. [3:13]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Well, why is it so important that the story sizzled, especially now? Like, what’s the problem being solved?
Bruce Scheer: Oh, geez. Well, it’s an evergreen problem. But it’s probably even more acute today. There are so many answers that buyers need to need to choose from. And I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this whole notion that too many options are shutting buyers down. You know, a lot of the clients that I serve, you know, they struggle with a no-decision rate, you know, they spend all this time and energy with their client to end a no deal, no decision. That doesn’t mean they went with a competitor or anything else. They you know, they just landed on no decision with that prospect. The other thing is with all these options, you get into this whole selection bias issue where, man, you know, that drives no decision as well. There’s just so many answers, you know, think about going out and buying a new car or something, you know, there’s so many answers to choose from, it might be overwhelming. So how can you help your buyer buy? That’s the bottom line. And to do so, I do believe you need to have a story that sizzles, helps you stand apart from the competitive pack, and helps your buyer get over that hump of fear, uncertainty, and doubt to want to buy from you and buy from you. And that strategic narrative, that story carries the day with that objective. [4:51]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. You know, the first thing that popped into my head when you said, when you have too much to choose from is Macy’s 34th Street, New York City. You walk into that store and there are tons, tons of options. And I remember being there going like, I have no idea. And I would leave without buying.
Bruce Scheer: Oh. Gosh. If you can remember, uh, you know, the video stores blockbuster back in the day, Nancy, you know, I used to avoid going into those because I would end up spending an hour or two looking at different titles. I do the same thing much to my wife’s frustration. I’ll be going into Netflix and thinking about, you know “Hey, should I watch this one, this one, this one, this one, this one”. And I found a long time ago “Hey, you know, it’s better just to have three options and pick one and go” and get something done. Don’t be overwhelmed and bewildered by all the selection choices that are out there. And in this era, I’ll tell you, the clients that I serve, and typically, Nancy, it’s in the hardware software, you know, the software is a service type of space, technology space, there are so many options. So how do you stand apart and help your buyer buy? And the story that sizzles creates that bridge, that roadmap to make sure that happens. [6:17]
Nancy Calabrese: So, what are the core elements of a narrative that sizzles?
Bruce Scheer: Well, the core narrative or core elements, I say there’s five Nancy, and I’ll break down each one and let me know along the way, as you have questions, concerns about what I’m saying, I know you’re a true pro and, and you’ll have something to offer. So, it starts really with targeting the ideal buyer. And so, you’re thinking about, you know, which types of organizations have that burning need for my solution. I.E., if they don’t have it, they might be going out of business or they’re so much incredible value that they will readily see as I paint that story, that vision that they’re going to want to buy it. So that’s an organizational standpoint. And then I normally help my clients think that through. What are their business characteristics? Their operational characteristics. [7:18]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Bruce Scheer: What other types of signals they would be sending that they’re an ideal client profile? I’m sure you’ve heard ICP, is the ideal client profile. So, we get very narrowly focused there. Then from there, who within that account should I be talking to? Who’s the buyer who is going to carry the day and has the power to sway others within that organization? Yes, we should invest in this. So, who’s that consultant and professor down in California, who coined this Steve Martin, but he calls it the bully with the Joe bully with the juice? Who’s that bully with the juice? Who should we target within that account? Now, typically for a lot of the buying decisions that my clients face. There might be five, or six people who might be part of that buying committee. But again, who’s the bully with the juice? And what’s their day job? What’s their role? What are their responsibilities? What are the challenges they have? And then what are the benefits we can bring them? So, it all starts there. That’s the first element, Nancy, just target the right buyer. [8:32]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Bruce Scheer: The second element, or any questions, or concerns before I move on to the second element in terms of buyer targeting.
Nancy Calabrese: No, I think that’s a big challenge though for many organizations understanding who the decision maker is because within each company it could vary, right? And as you said, I think it’s important to qualify right up front how many decision-makers are involved in this process to get them engaged very early on in the conversation. So, you’re not being strung along, and you shorten the sales cycle. What do you think?
Bruce Scheer: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Oh, yeah. Yeah. No, I agree that that’s critical as you start that dialogue. Once you enter the account, you need to figure out you know, who at the end of the day is going to be deciding on this who’s signing the contract is that question I typically like to ask to figure out, you know, who might be that ultimate decision maker. So, but there are patterns, you do your work on identifying the right types of accounts, typically there are patterns, this persona this role, this person typically is that decision maker. And then from there, we start to build our strategic narrative, our story that sizzles. And so, I’ll take you through the next part of that path then. So, the second element of having a story that sizzles is what I call spotlighting the problem. So, what I mean by that is we spend a lot of time thinking through how we characterize the problem state of that buyer. They might see it, oftentimes they don’t even see it in its totality, but how can we help characterize that, both verbally and most importantly, Nancy, visually? How can we paint a picture of that problem domain that’s setting them back, that’s holding them back, that’s incredibly costly and frustrating from an operational perspective, a personal perspective, an employee morale perspective, whatever perspectives we want to pour gas on? How do we characterize that problem, both verbally and visually? And that’s one thing, Nancy, that I think most organizations that I see as they go to market, they’re missing the characterization of the problem they solve. They’re typically very solution-centric. “Hey, Nancy, I’ve got this new solution. Let me tell you all about it. Here’s what it looks like. Here’s what it feels like. Here are the benefits features, and functions of that whole thing”. That’s not where you want to start, you want to start that narrative around the problem. And you want to plant that problem and, and point a spotlight on it, you know, just again, thinking of an analogy, think of that spotlight, you know, when you point it on something, that’s what people see. And then often they can’t unsee it when you do that well. [11:26]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Bruce Scheer: And everything else is in the black. So, you’re bringing focus and clarity to that problem by spotlighting it. And that’s the fun part, if you can crack that code, you’re typically going to sell way more, and help so many buyers out by helping them have that clarity and conviction around the problem that you can help them solve.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, I think by bringing up problems, the goal is to get them emotional, right? Get them thinking about their frustrations and so on.
Bruce Scheer: Oh. Yeah. And, you know, you’ve probably seen the wisdom around, people buy on emotion, and then they kind of justify with logic. And because of that, Nancy, my firm inspires your buyers calmly, we have a business case development offering as well and tools to support that to give that buyer the logic as well. So, when we’re defining the problem space, we do, I do want to do that from a big, ugly, emotional perspective. But then also I want to move into, Nancy, the problem dimension of what’s this costing you and what’s the cost of inaction? What economically and financially, you know, what’s on the table here? What, what, you know, how much money could we save you? How much money could you gain by really addressing this head-on? And so that’s kind of the logic discussion as well. So, it’s kind of, it’s a bit of a one-two punch where it’s emotional and logic is part of that problem dimension. But you so smartly mentioned, Nancy, you want to get that emotional hook. If you don’t have it, you’re probably not going to be selling much. [13:13]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Agree 100%. Yep.
Bruce Scheer: Cool. Well, Nancy, if you, go ahead.
Nancy Calabrese: No, then you want to move on to, are you ready to go to three or?
Bruce Scheer: Sure. Yeah. I’ll go to the third key element then. So just to recap, we targeted the right buyer in terms of the organization characteristics and the personas that we want to talk to. We planted that problem, and we were able to shine a spotlight on it so everybody can see it now. And again, very often it’s a blind spot. From there, we move on to element number C and that’s funny enough, Nancy, that’s not talking about the solution just yet. And that’s where typically where people go problem solution. No, from there, the third element, which is a bit of a surprise to people, is the outcome dimension. And Nancy, have you heard of this little, teeny company called Cisco? By any chance? I had the honor of meeting with John Chambers a couple of years ago over at CES, the Las Vegas show and he loves to go there every year and look at all the new technology where he can connect the dots as one of his big themes on what’s going to be hot moving forward. So, he gave a talk there and introduced his new book Connecting the dots. But one of his sales leaders was there with me and asked him at the end of the show, we both walked up to John and just got man, we want, we want the wisdom from this, this legend and his seller asked him “Hey, what’s the number one tip you give people for, for improving sales?” And he says, “Don’t sell products, sell outcomes”. And so that’s the third element in this sell the outcome. So, here’s where it gets exciting and aspirational. You talk to your buyer about “Hey after we nail that problem from you, What’s next? What do you gain after you get rid of that pain?” And then we start to paint a picture again, verbally, and visually of what’s that, you know, you know, after that problem goes away and you start to incur these benefits that we have to offer, what’s that outcome state? What does life on the beach look like for you? And so that’s fun where you talk to your buyer about you, your kind of co-creating, and you’re envisioning with them of that desired state, that outcome state. [15:35]
Nancy Calabrese: Wow, I love that.
Bruce Scheer: It’s awesome. When it, when done well, it works. So that’s kind of, you know, element number C, to help that buyer understand the outcome. And then moving on from there, then you can start with talking about, well, how do we get there? How do we resolve that problem? And then how do we achieve this outcome? That’s so compelling. Then you can talk. Now it’s time to talk a little bit about the solution, not too much, especially if this is an introductory conversation where you finally got that meeting with the decision maker, you want to go light, you don’t want to go deep into features, functions, and stuff. Because that executive decision-maker might go “Oh, you must have thought I cared about all that stuff”. I don’t. You should be talking to somebody down in the boiler room, you know, and I got to go, you know, so you don’t want to go too deep, but you want to talk about I call it the big solution, not the little bits and pieces, but the big solution. How are we going to get there for you? Here’s what that might look like from a solution perspective. And Nancy, I’m glad to back this whole model up with an example after I go through these parts, but any questions on the solution domain or anything to contribute there? [16:56]
Nancy Calabrese: No, I like, I mean, the way we operate here is once you qualify the prospect, because that’s basically what you’ve been talking about so far, and you move into the first-time appointment, we typically kind of review what we thought we heard, make sure we didn’t miss anything, and just continue asking questions and get them talking about their pain. We don’t go into features and benefits. You know, we just don’t do it that way. We do consultative selling.
Bruce Scheer: Absolutely. Yeah. So yeah, these introductions are on the front end of the sales cycle, the buying journey, if you would, you don’t want to go too deep, you want to keep it at that executive level. However, once you know, once you get deeper into the sales cycle, you know, they’re convinced “Hey, I do have a problem to solve for that is the outcome I want”. From a high level, that does seem like the right type of solution path. Then we move into the final step of my model which is the next steps. And that’s where we lead the witness, we prescribe the next steps. And this is another area that I see most sellers and organizations falling on with their strategic narrative. What are those prescribed next steps? What does that buying journey look like? And many junior sellers would like, oh, hey, this is a good discussion. Uh, what should we do next? And then, and the person goes, well, gosh, we, you know, I’m out of time right now. I’ve got my next appointment. Tell you what, send me information and send me a proposal and I’ll have a meeting on it, and we’ll get back to you. And that is just horrifying, Nancy that, that yeah, yeah. Wrong answer. And that’s a junior mistake. You know, what you want to do is reserve some time to discuss the next steps. [18:51]
Nancy Calabrese: Wrong.
Bruce Scheer: You know, and that might be a five, 10-minute discussion, you know, based on the time that you have with that decision maker, you know, where you confirm with them “Hey, we have an opportunity together to solve that problem, deliver that outcome, and then begin on thinking about the solution at hand. Here’s what I would like to recommend as the next steps. I’d like to talk to a couple of other people on your buying committee and see what they’re thinking about and see if this story resonates with them and what else they would add to this story. And then from there, if that makes sense, I’d like to do a mini-assessment for you guys. If this is a big bet decision”, Nancy. And then from there, I’d like to get together with your buying committee again, this time as a group where we can talk about our findings from that assessment and make some recommendations for you guys on the smartest way to approach this. And then from there, if that makes sense, we will, you know, get that paper process all nailed and we’ll start working together. And if all this goes right, I’m imagining this process will just be a few weeks. And then you might ask that buyer or that decision maker “Hey, what else am I missing? What else do you think we should add to these next steps that we’ll take together?” You know that open-ended question to get their buy-in and stamp on this whole thing. So that’s how you end your narrative, that story that sizzles, really anchoring with that buyer on the next steps of that buying journey. [20:22]
Nancy Calabrese: So, your five steps, are you referring to five different conversations or can some of this be combined?
Bruce Scheer: No, this is all part of your strategic story. Uh, that story that sizzles, you know, so when you show up for those introductory types of conversations with somebody a bit higher up, a decision maker, you follow all five elements are, you know, I shouldn’t call them steps, Nancy, but their core element of that story that sizzles.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. Wow. Well, I can’t believe we’re out of time. This is fascinating and I could go on and on with you. So, I do hope that you will come back so we can continue this. How can my people find you?
Bruce Scheer: Well, probably the easiest way is to off our website, www.inspireyourbuyers.com. And secondly, I’d love to connect with people on LinkedIn and it’s just B S C H E E R. My first letter of my first name and then my last name, S C H E E R. And that’s on LinkedIn. So, they’ll be able to find me quite easily there.
Nancy Calabrese: Okay, love it. You have a great story and a story that sizzles, Bruce. So, I appreciate it.
Bruce Scheer: Okay, well, thank you, Nancy. Hey, one other thing to remind Nancy, one thing I’d love to say to your audience, if you’re intrigued by this model, and think it’ll help you up your selling conversation, please grab a copy of the book. It’s you know, it’s a best seller number one best seller on Amazon across five categories. The take-up has just been huge, Nancy, I had 1600 downloads in two days blew me away. Um, but it’s, it’s quite popular. It’s very reasonably priced. If you can’t afford it, reach out to me directly. I’ll get you a complimentary copy. And, it just, I hope you enjoy the wisdom within it comes after two decades of helping enterprise sellers get this right. And it’s just simplified and boiled down. I jokingly tell people it’s, it’s light on calories, but very rich on nutrients. So, I hope it’s very helpful. [22:34]
Nancy Calabrese: You are a storyteller, Bruce. I love it. Everyone out there, take advantage of what you learned from Bruce today. Check out his website, connect with him on LinkedIn, and improve your sales. Make it all sizzle. Have a great day, everyone. And again, Bruce, thanks for being on the show.
Bruce Scheer: Absolutely. Thank you, Nancy. [22:59]