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Gong.io, Chris Orlob, Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist

TSE 696: Top B2B Sales Trends for 2017

Gong.io, Chris Orlob, Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist

Today, we have Chris Orlob on the show. He works for Gong.io that provides data that help sellers become better at sales. In this episode, he’s dishing out top B2B sales trends they’ve seen in 2017 (some of which are going to roll over to 2018).

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Chris:

What Gong.io Does:

It’s the #1 conversation intelligence platform for sales teams. What they do:

  • Records sales calls
  • Transcribes them from speech to text
  • Analyzes them with machine learning

Benefits sales teams get from Gong.io:

  • People can figure out what’s working and what’s not
  • You can use data to drive sales effectiveness across the entire team
  • You can ramp new hires faster.

Whether or not you purchase a technology like this, become familiar with it because it’s probably the most impactful technology on the organization next to the CRM.

Top Trends in 2017:

Sales Quotas 

Since 2011, sales quota attainment has steadily been dropping year to year. It’s continuing to decline over time.

Annual quotas are being increased on average 7.5% a year.

So one one hand, there’s declining quota attainment and on the other hand, there’s this increased total quotas.

A correlation:

During the same time period, the VP of Sales average tenure has declined from 26 months in 2011 to 19 months in 2016.

The reason for these trends: 

There is a big and wide sales performance gap between the top 10%-20% of the performance on your sales team and the middle of the pack (80%-90% average performers who make up the rest of your entire salesforce)

The reason for the gap is in how they conduct their sales conversations. There is almost always a stark difference in how the A players conduct their sales conversations compared to their mediocre peers.

Sales leaders are blind to sales conversations.

Benefits of Understanding Sales Conversations:

Allows you to design a sales training program based on reality versus just generic.

Allows you to follow through to make sure sales training is being implemented in a live setting.

Talk to Listen Ratio

The talk to listen ration that leads to the most closed deals is different for each type of call:

  • Discovery – The highest converting talk to listen ratio is 46:54 (the rep talks 46% of the time and listens for 54%of the time)
  • Demo – The highest converting talk to listen ratio is 65:35 (rep talks 65% of the time and listens for 35%of the time)

Strategies for coaching:

1. Basing it on facts
2. Role playing
“Humans are learning machines. If they say sales is not a learnable skill is to go against human nature.” – Chris Orlob

Chris’ Major Takeaway:

For Sales Leaders:

Prioritize shifting your bell curve or closing the sales effectiveness gap and the middle of the pack as your number one priority.

For Sales Reps:
Read a lot of books. Implement everything you learn relentlessly and figure out what’s working and what’s not. If you have call recordings at your company, listen to your own recordings. Analyze what worked and what didn’t.

Episode Resources:

If you want to know more about sales effectiveness, check out Gong.io.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Think Fast Think Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Tired of the same old, boring PowerPoint decks? Use Prezi Business and your presentations will never be the same. Tell your story the way you want to tell it.

Join the TSE Hustler’s League.




Jeff Koser, Donald Kelly, Selling To Zebra, CRM

TSE 646: Sell To Zebras, Close More Deals!

Jeff Koser, Donald Kelly, Selling To Zebra, CRM

Do you find yourself all over the place? You could be putting your efforts into selling to so many customers right now when all you should be focusing on are zebras.

In this episode, find out who are the zebras, why the zebras, and how you can be effective in sales through this approach.

Jeff Koser is the co-founder of Selling to Zebras, a sales software program that also has a methodology behind it. If you love processes and you want to be effective with your prospecting, check out what Jeff has been doing. They also have a book of the same name, Selling to Zebras: How to Close 90% of the Business You Pursue Faster, More Easily, and More Profitably.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Jeff:

What is Selling to Zebras:

  • A zebra is easy to spot. The first time they learn what it is, they know exactly what they’re looking at.
  • Perfect prospects are zebras. When you define it well enough, it should be just easier to spot them compared to all the other animals.
  • People aren’t going to buy from you if you can’t establish unique, compelling value.

The 7 Things that Make Up Every Deal in a B2B Environment:

  1. Company
  2. Operations
  3. Power (ultimate decision maker, economic buyer)
  4. Funding
  5. Value
  6. Technology
  7. Service

They score one of these in a red, yellow, green format from zero to four (0-1 are red, 2 is yellow, 3-4 are green). Each one of the attributes has a score and a color. That tells you where the holes are in your deal. The total has a score which totals down to either a red, yellow, or green for the whole deal.

Benefits of the Zebra Scoring System:

  • It’s very visual. It’s easy to communicate. It’s common language.
  • You can use this throughout the entire company (sales, delivery, product, R&D, finance, HR, etc)
  • It allows your people to understand who you pursue and why your pursue them.

What Business Problem Are You Solving?

Here’s an exercise for your management team: Take a 3×3 piece of paper and let them write the business problem you solve for your customers.

What they’ll start doing is describing their product or what it is they do. That’s not the business problem you solve. At least not in the eyes of your customer.

This is one of the key things the zebra does in the operation section because you get to define what business problem do you solve that creates value for your customers such that power would buy it. This shifts the focus away from your product and it makes solving the problem and the buyer the hero as opposed to your product being the hero.

How Selling to Zebras as a Software Company Came to Be:

They pursued funding but didn’t get any. The problem is until they’re able to prove they’re a software company, potential investors would value 1x times their sales. This means they literally would have given the whole company to get any kind of funding at all. Jeff worked full time in his business, took a VP of Sales position for a company, and paid himself little or nothing, selling to zebras, took all the money, and invested in building the software.

Selling to Zebras Software versus CRM:

  • They integrate with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and others. But the difference is you sell and present from the platform.
  • The software will create an executive level presentation for you that has preliminary business case after feeding just a couple pieces of information.
  • You have a powerful penetration tool that earns you the right to have a conversation with a well-placed executive.
  • The goal is to have the first meeting with Power (the person that can buy even without a budget or can move budgeted dollars around so they can buy from you if you can establish prudent business value)

How the Process Works:

  1. Selling to Zebras has partners that will verify what you believe a zebra to be. They will then tell Selling to Zebras what business problem you solve and then when you solve it, what value was created.
  2. The Zebra shows you where you’ve been successful. The software helps you find more of those customers that look just like that.
  3. Then they have messaging that allows you to build that business case with simple inputs since they know you’ve done it before.
  4. Those information lives inside the software so when you’re done, you know where you are.
  5. You’re ready for a review with your manager if you’re a seller or with the management team if you’re a manager or the board if you’re the CEO.

Does this free the seller of doing the heavy-lifting?

No, because you have to understand the business problem you solve for the customer. And Power can feel that. People still sell. People buy emotionally and back it up with facts. You still have to be a person. You still have to care about their business. But before they want to have a relationship with you, you have to prove you understand their problem and you really care enough. The only way you can do that is by becoming an expert.

Can anyone use this solution?

Selling to Zebras caters to B2B companies. This will work if a business case would help you sell more.

Jeff’s Major Takeaway:

If you’re a B2B seller and you can’t articulate the business case, you haven’t earned the right to ask for the business.

Episode Resources:

Check out Selling to Zebras or connect with Jeff on Linkedin.

Read the book Selling to Zebras by Jeff Koser and Chad Koser

The Science of Selling by David Hoffeld

Join the  TSE Hustler’s League. We have two groups for this upcoming semester – One focused on win rates and the other group focused on business building and development.

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Donald Kelly, The Best Sales Podcast, The Sales Evangelist, Key Sales Metrics

TSE 337: 7 Key Sales Metrics You Should Track

Donald Kelly, The Best Sales Podcast, The Sales Evangelist, Key Sales MetricsAs a salesperson, you need to understand your numbers and the gauges of what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how you can improve. Today, I’m giving you 7 metrics you can look at to improve yourself as a seller.

You have to compete against yourself and make sure you’re better than you were last month. These metrics are universal across industries, no matter what you’re selling.

7 Sales Metrics to Improve Yourself as a Seller:

  1. Time spent selling

Measure the time you’re actually selling, meetings you have with prospects, phone calls you’re making, when you’re actually in the process of selling, prospect visits, demos, close calls, and things of that nature.

  1. Response time to leads

Studies show that if you take more than 24 hours to get back and talk to leads, you’re 60% less likely to close that deal. Connect with leads as quickly as you can and find out what they’re looking for and be of assistance.

  1. Amount of opportunities generated each week

If you’re required to both prospect and sell, you have to get people into your funnel. What are you doing each week to create new opportunities? What kind of opportunities can you develop? What’s your rate?

  1. Leads to opportunity

How many leads does it take you to create an opportunity? (marketing, networking events, etc) What can you do to minimize the amount of leads to opportunity? Try to reduce it from 5:1 to 3:1.

  1. Actual opportunity to win

How many opportunities does it take you to get one new client?

  1. Average deal size of the deals you’re closing

Are you closing a lot of small deals or larger deals? What are you doing right and what are you not doing right? What can you do to improve?

  1. Time it takes to close a deal

What can you do to bring your time down to be at par with the company’s average time? What can you do to get it under par?

Episode Resources:

Bob Burg’s book Adversaries to Allies

Kevin Kruse’s book 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management

TSE 266 with Kevin Kruse

Get a free audiobook download and a 30-day free trial at audibletrial.com/tse with over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.

The Sales Evangelist, Donald Kelly, Donald C. Kelly

Sales Management, Coaching Sales People, The Sales Evangelist Podcast, Donald Kelly, Bryan Orr, Ann-Marie Bélanger

TSE 218: Sales From The Street-“The Business Owner’s View of Sales”

TSE 163 (3)

Today, I have two phenomenal and astoundingly awesome entrepreneurs (and friends of mine) and they will be bringing a whole load of value on today’s Sales From the Street.

Here’s something new… I’m trying a new approach where I’m inviting people who work with salespeople as they talk about managing salespeople, some challenges they’ve seen as business owners, and things they’ve done to improve their sales.




Ann-Marie Athavale

Ann-Marie Athavale is the VP of Sales and co-owner (along with her brother) of a Canadian-based technology company, Empire Communications, which provides voice, data, and security solutions to businesses covering places in Southern Ontario and parts of Michigan. They do B2B sales and deploy telecom technology for contact centers, school boards, doctors’ offices, as well as IP cameras and access controls for these businesses.

Also gracing today’s show is Bryan Orr, the general manager and co-owner of Kalos, a HVAC construction and electrical company in central Florida. He started it 10 years ago with his family and uncle. Bryan is also a podcaster, general audio nerd, and a business coach. Bryan is the host of the podcast The WOW Small Business Show 

Bryan Orr

Bryan Orr


Some major challenges they’ve encountered:

Bryan: Never liking the idea of sales

Ann-Marie: Recruitment and finding the right fit for their team

Top qualities they’re looking for in sales individuals:


  • Competitive
  • High-level salespeople
  • Internally motivated
  • High character and integrity


  • Honest
  • Setting realistic expectations
  • People who are not afraid to say “no”
  • Someone who can go upfront to customers
  • Able to go the extra mile

Bryan says you have to make specific agreements with your team about the type of work they should or shouldn’t be accepting to generate a great customer experience and making sure you’re not wasting time.

Things they’ve seen in their top performing sellers:


  • Going after the vertical market.


  • Being a good listener
  • Good at building legitimate relationships (not just transactional, but emotional relationships)

Does the company need to find you leads?


The importance of one-on-one conversation sets in: Having conversations with your people and coming to an agreement with them


They’re lucky their team members are hunters!

Strategies for developing a sales mentality for your organization:


  • Look for opportunities in the project to be able to offer the customer.
  • Keep the team motivated on a daily basis.
  • Conduct project management meetings: Keep the relationship and line of communication open between the sales team and the technical department.


  • Know what motivates your people.
  • You can’t pretend that you want them to be motivated by what they should be motivated by.
  • Have a constant feedback loop that reinforces that motivation.
  • Engage with their motivations and remind them about their motivations by giving them different opportunities tailored to what motivates them.

Some pieces of advice to early entrepreneurs:


  • Do not be afraid to get out there and sell.
  • Do not be afraid of customers who say no.
  • Make changes as needed as you’re growing your organization.


  • Be open to whatever possibilities that exist, both with customers and with your staff.
  • Listen carefully to your customers
  • Be open to failing sometimes and do not be afraid of what could happen.

Some pieces of advice for a new sales rep:


  • Ask questions and don’t be afraid to get out there.
  • Take risks and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.


  • Be relentless.

Get in touch with Ann-Marie and visit their website http://www.empirecom.on.ca/  

Get in touch with Bryan Orr through www.bryanorr.com and check out his podcast The WOW Small Business Show
The Sales Evangelist, Donald Kelly, Donald C. Kelly










How do unethical salespeople sleep at night? Dr. Mallin, Dr. Munoz

TSE 118: How Do Unethical Salespeople Sleep at Night?

How Do Unethical Sales People Sleep at Night?Which line separates ethical and unethical sales behavior? How do you know when you’ve already crossed the line?

Yes! Sales is important and you need to do what needs to be done to get that sale. But at the end of the day, you need to make sure that you feel good about what you’ve done and you feel good with yourself.

In this episode, Dr. Michael Mallin from the University of Toledo shares with us why some salespeople engage in unethical behaviors. After about 16 years of sales industry experience, Michael has decided to join the academia. His research paper, How Do Unethical Salespeople Sleep at Night? also co-written by Dr. Laura Serviere Munoz, delves into the effects of the different types of neutralizations on the ethical intention of salespeople.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Michael:

How Do Unethical Sales People Sleep at Night?

Nature of the Study:

  • Under what circumstances salespeople try to mentally justify their unethical sales behavior
  • Not understanding the difference between ethical and unethical sales behaviors

3 Criterias to Determine Unethical Sales Behavior:

  1. If it’s illegal or violates any law
  2. If someone is severely disadvantaged by your action (is your action fair and balanced?)
  3. If you do not want your friends and family to know about this action that you’re engaging in

The 5 Types of Neutralizations that Occur When Salespeople Justify their Sales Practices:

  1. Denial of injury
  2. Appeal to higher royalty – conceding to the demands of a social group they belong
  3. Denial of responsibility
  4. Condemning the condemners
  5. Denial of victim

Reasons for the prevalence of neutralization in sales:

  • When no one is really hurt (denial of injury)
  • They need to do it in order to satisfy their boss, family or themselves (appeal to higher loyalty)

Where sales neutralization applies:

  1. Hunting – When ‘you’re promoting sales
  2. Farming – When you’re building customer relationships
  3. When you make somebody’s justifications

On the negative stigma of selling:

More common in direct to consumer selling

How to analyze whether you’re doing ethical or unethical sales practice

  1. Always follow the law
  2. Is what you’re doing or the decision you’re making fair and balanced?
  3. Would you want your family and friends to know about what you’ve done?

“Falling on your sword” concept:

  • Boils down to trust
  • Admit your mistake and rectify it

Current projects Michael is working on:

  • Research on the dynamics of the relationship between the sales manager and salesperson (balancing trust, performance-based sales control, and outcome-based sales control)
  • How do sales managers use their power?

Check out the National Conference for Sales Management happening on April 15-18, 2015 in Houston, Texas where university professors and educators come together to discuss research and teaching of sales, share best teaching practices, research in sales, and have fun.

Get connected with Michael by sending him an email through michael.mallin@utoledo.edu.

Or contact Dr. Laura Serviere Munoz through email at lserviere@udallas.edu

Michael’s Major Takeaways:

  • Understand that we as human beings have natural defense mechanisms.
  • Be aware that if you’re not sure whether something is ethical or unethical, you may have the tendency to use neutralizations to mute the impact of an unethical behavior.
  • The BEST thing to do when you’re not sure what to do: ASK people (boss, trusted friends, mentors) to help you validate your decision.