Tim Riesterer (@TRiesterer) helps companies develop, deploy and deliver customer conversations that win! Organizations work with Corporate Visions when they want to develop more compelling messages that break through the status quo and differentiate their organization from the competitors; deploy those messages in powerful self-service and sales-directed customer conversation tools that are more remarkable and memorable than everyone else’s content; and finally, enable your salespeople to deliver this content with skills training for creating, elevating and capturing more value in your customer conversations.
- It's your job to make sense of the marketplace
- It's your job to make your message understandable and memorable
- It's your job to create and elevate value in your prospect's mind
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone, this is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the no limit selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster. Get ready for another episode.
Umar Hameed 0:36
Hello, everyone, I am so happy to have Tim riester here with me today. He's the Chief Strategy Officer at corporate visions. Tim, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Umar, we met about two and a half years ago, and I saw you do a presentation at the Institute for excellence in sales. I didn't know anything about first responders. But you were talking about helping Motorola communicate what they did in a way that anybody could understand. Number one, and I saw that presentation once, two and a half years ago. And I can actually recite that presentation, two and a half years later, all because you communicated a message in a simple way that got people to say yes. Why don't you tell us about that, because that was like a mind blowing presentation.
Tim Riesterer 1:22
Well, we took and condensed about 15 PowerPoint slides trying to launch a new product and turned it into one simple concrete visual that could be drawn on a napkin or a flip chart or a tablet or something like that. And also, in embedded in that story was the framework for what we call a why change story. They were asking customers to make a big change from the way they were doing things today, and how they wanted them to do them tomorrow. And a typical product rollout presentation positioning effort isn't going to create that kind of emotional spike. So not only did we simplify the story from 15, slides down to one simple visual, we embedded that kind of emotion under the help people see they needed to make a change. So you were responding to both the simple concrete visual, and really the emotional trigger that went along with the story.
Umar Hameed 2:16
And that's what brilliance is because I think a lot of times when you see something so elegant and simple. I think there's a quote from Einstein that says, You know, I don't like simplicity, but I love simplicity on the other side of complexity. And you took something that was complex, and you made it simple to understand, I guess that's ultimately what sales people do is how do we communicate? How do we inspire? How do we motivate people, if not to buy but certainly to understand the value proposition that we're presenting?
Tim Riesterer 2:42
Yeah, the abstract complex story keeps people from buying because they can use the abstract and complex nature of the story to give them an excuse for not making a decision. You can't do it if it's abstract and complex. But if you can make it simple and concrete, and help them see the context for urgency, the contrast between what they're doing today and tomorrow, that makes it concrete enough for them to take action. I always say if it can draw it, they can do it. And as long as it's abstract and complicated, they can give themselves a pass. But if you make it simple and concrete now they actually have to reckon with it. Now they actually have to make a decision, they can still say no, but in their conscience they now know there's a clear Yes. And a clear No. And and and that will be with them.
Umar Hameed 3:28
So Tim, I have not read the article yet. But I noticed that you had a part on article that just went live on the international journal for sales transformation.
Tim Riesterer 3:37
Yeah, so it's why evolve. So think of it as companies struggle when they have old products out there. And they want to move a customer to a new product. And it's an existing customer. And it's a delicate balance, right? That new product may be where you're doing all your future development. And you want to keep your customers current, so they don't get picked off by a competitor. That new product may cost you less to run. And so you can improve your margins on it. There's all kinds of reasons you want to move someone from old platform to new platform. But customers aren't aren't always ready to go there at when you want them to. So you want to know how do you tell the best story. And what's unique about it is you have to create enough urgency for them to see the need to change. But you want to leverage the fact that you have an existing partnership, and there's familiarity with them that doesn't cause them to want to change and then consider somebody else. So we look at the science behind how people make decisions. And then we do tests and different buying and deciding areas. So we've done the research on the various questions customers ask themselves, why change Why do something different and you tell a story that helps them do something different and choose you and the why you story how to compete against alternatives, the why now story how to create a sense of urgency for a decision, not a deferral, and then we pivoted to the why stay story, how to get more renewals or the why pay story how to communicate a price increase And it's like, after you do a piece of research on one of those selling areas, somebody raises their hand and says, I got another one for you. And this came up from several of our clients who have platforms they're trying to move clients to, and they're like, do you have a study for that? So we said, Sure, we went out and did one.
Umar Hameed 5:17
So Tim, Kenny, are you doing one? Why not?
Tim Riesterer 5:20
Well, you know, it's funny is, it seems like every time you think of another question to ask, and then you answer it, somebody has another one. And, and that sounds like a very clever one that I should probably prepare myself for. Now that we've done, I think six of these, I'm sure there's more out there somewhere.
Umar Hameed 5:36
So timco, back to the first one. But give me an example of a before and after, you know, we had a client, and this is what they were doing. And this is how our research helped them become more effective.
Tim Riesterer 5:48
Yeah. So the the first one, why change was this recognition that too many sales cycles, and in no decision. And in fact, the numbers we have working with a research partner are that 60 to 80%, of finals presentations end up in no decision, they stick with their status quo. And people would argue, well, that means we lost to the incumbent competitor, and I argue you lost to inertia you lost to gravity, you lost, you lost to risk aversion, people didn't want to change. In fact, the question they couldn't answer for themselves wasn't why you and not the competitor, the question they couldn't answer themselves as Why would I take the risk of change? There's just not enough contrast here or urgency for me to take on the change management effort that you're proposing. So we said companies, you actually have to answer and get the first Yes, which is, I need to change, I need to do something different. And that requires a different psychology and a different story. And so we move people from the why you add story, which often look like a competitive matrix, you and your competitors, and then you'd score them against your features, and you'd get full moons and they get half moons, and then you'd win. But it didn't work that way. The why change story comes from a different psychology, which is the the conquering of status quo bias. And we're able to identify through the literature for reasons people won't change their mind or what they call the four causes of status quo bias, and build and test a messaging framework that's specifically addressed. If you will, attacked the four reasons people won't change their mind. And I like to say defeat the four causes of status quo bias. And that's psychology. And that message is dramatically different than the why you story where you try to distinguish yourself from a competing alternative. And that's where it all started. And and once we were able to show people that it's like, it's at least a 90 degree pivot from why you to why change were, the first thing you have to do is convince them, they've got problems or missed opportunities they didn't even know they had. And now they have a sense of urgency, and they need to do something different. Now they're finally going to care about you and why they might try to do that with you. And most people's messaging absolutely misses that.
Umar Hameed 7:55
So Tim, can you give me Let's dig down deeper into this, because I think ultimately, at the end of the day, nobody cares about you or me, they care about themselves. So we might as well sell in that way. So give me a live example of one of those transformations where you took somebody from a we're amazing, fantastic, and you should buy from us too. This is what's going on in your world. So show me the contrast, because I think that would be a deep learning lesson for our listeners.
Tim Riesterer 8:19
So contrast is inherently visual and and we have an audio medium here. So I'm going to work really hard to do this sumar. But I'll go back to the Motorola example that seems to have stuck with you so much. In their initial product launch. It talked a lot about new phones, new laptops, new PCs, that were ruggedized and improved to be of better use for first responders than typical commercial grade phones, and tablets and laptops. And they talked about the benefits of some of these new first responder, dedicated apps, and things that first responders would need on these ruggedized versions of these devices. The problem they had was that all of these municipalities had already committed themselves to consumer vendors, public vendors of telecommunications, the big names out there Verizon att sprint, so whatever it is, they have are already using phones and laptops and tablets from these vendors. So it was a hard shift, because there was a lot of sunk cost and a no big compelling reason to change. We stood that story on its head. And we're able to identify through the story that if you share a network with the consumers and the public at large, all of your content is trafficking on that same network. You're putting the first responders ability to get data at risk. And we simply walk through a story where we showed them this very clogged pipe and in it we said you're you're you're competing with all of the public on the same pipe. You also have The risk for example, when a natural disaster happens, the data lines are clogged. In fact, it can take days for your data to get over their data lines. And now the first responders are actually helpless, they don't have access to that information. Or when when bad people try to do bad things and try to generate flash mobs over the network. Sometimes the first responders have to take down the network to stop that, but they take it down for the bad guys and the good guys. And sometimes public carriers don't have coverage in areas that bad stuff happens. And now you're at the mercy of a for profit company who doesn't have coverage. Public networks are susceptible to hackers, because that's where all the interesting information is, as well as government regulations that might not allow you to pass certain important private information on public networks. So we came down to this conclusion after drawing this picture that the network you're using is least available when you need it most. And then we have pivoted to identify that Motorola is known for their voice communications, the radios you use, and it's available on a private network that is always on, don't you think you may be also need a private network for your data as well as your voice. And we created this clear contrast between the value of the private network and something they're already familiar with the problems and limitations associated with the public network that they were currently using. And basically made it unsafe, untenable, unacceptable to stay there anymore. Because when you need it most it's least available. And and now created a demand for the new thing, without ever mentioning, the handheld devices, the tablets or the PC. So it was a big shift for them, where they weren't talking about their products and features that they were launching, they were talking about a new way. But we had to first show how the old way was no longer safe. I hope that communicated as clearly as I could over audio really one of those very transformative stories. So what we're going to do is either
Umar Hameed 11:55
you're going to do a Tim or I'm going to do it is we're going to do a video that'll link to the show notes that they can actually see it drawn out and really get the power of it. Because I think ultimately, when we are selling our products, we take a lot for granted. And we see it from our point of view. And oftentimes the message we're trying to send is not the right one that's going to motivate somebody to take action and and buy.
Tim Riesterer 12:19
Yeah, well, research has shown so we study the decision making sciences, neuroscience, behavioral economics and social psychology. And we sort of triangulate that and look at the existing literature. And then we perform simulations where we create test scenarios we recruit would be buyers, b2b buyer types who reflect the demographics of the b2b buying audience and put them into these scenarios, and then put test conditions together and simulate their decision making. Instead of asking, they're just flat out opinion, how do you buy? What do you need to know? And why do you buy? We understand through research that they'll lie to you, not on purpose, but they they speak from the part of the brain that justifies a decision, not the part that makes a decision, because the part of the brain that makes a decision doesn't even have the capacity for language. So we actually have to put them in a simulation to see exactly how they'd react and with what intensity level they react, and then we come back and we go, Hmm, here it is. Here's the story framework, in its exact choreography that created the best response and the highest intention and the willingness to stick and all those kinds of questions we ask. And you discover time and time again, that it is an emotional intuitive response, a message that drives the greatest response. In particular, when you're trying to dislodge an incumbent. And and you find very quickly that when a customer expresses to you the rational, logical content they need, they just want it so they can explain, justify and validate a decision, it's not actually useful in helping them make the initial decision.
Umar Hameed 13:48
Tim, what do you see a lot of companies and you see a lot of people struggling to compete in this super competitive world. If you were helping a client, what are the three things you'd advise them to do now, so their salespeople are more effective?
Tim Riesterer 14:02
Well, the first thing I would suggest is that they understand that the psychology of the buyer affects the way you create messaging, and the story you build, but it also affects the skills you use to tell that story. So in customer acquisition mode, we have discovered that you have to be more insightful and provocative. In other words, disrupt their status quo, and and do some things to distinguish yourself competitively that appeal to certain parts of the brain and have a certain kind of impact and require certain skill. You You have to be willing and able to sell them on the problem not just on your products. But if you when you go ahead
Umar Hameed 14:40
from my point of view, you know, my area of expertise is applied neuroscience, and very much the reptile brain of the client needs to be triggered and you're talking about creating stories that are a memorable but to invoke emotions and three, get the reptile brain to take action. Say Hey, wait a minute. We can't Stand the status quo, we need to take action. And we need to do it now.
Tim Riesterer 15:03
Right? And then you need to give the sales people the skills to do that confidently because that doesn't come naturally. It doesn't fall in neatly into the the sales person's desire to build relationship desire to ask 20 questions, it's, it's, it's, it's a different kind of posture for the salesperson to have. So it's about building story, and teaching them the skills and having them practice enough to feel like they're confident to have this kind of encounter. And what we discover is that if done, right, customers are actually grateful that for this, you become a trusted adviser, because you told them the thing they didn't know, if you just repeat back to them, the answers to the questions they gave you, that doesn't make you a trusted adviser that just makes you a tape recorder, what we see is that on the customer acquisition side, a great story that disrupts status quo, but then fresh skills that makes people comfortable with that are important because you need to have the at bats in the sense that you can tell this kind of story as well. Right? So it's a story and a skill problem. So
Umar Hameed 16:04
what's kind of interesting, I suspect that some of the people that you're training, if they were at a campfire with their family, they would be amazing storytellers. But when they take on the hat of a salesperson to tell the story, sometimes that changes things internally for them. Have you come across that?
Tim Riesterer 16:20
Yeah, as a matter of fact, I, I have I think one of the challenges that I see is that people think that their customers have somehow taken an headache, like a brain lithotomy a home and when the customer goes to work, they're no longer emotional and intuitive, either. It's all jargon and acronyms, and you got to speak like you're a freaking robot or something. And which what our research shows because we put would be customers into this research, including executive level customers into this researches, they are highly emotional and intuitive in the way they react to the stories you tell, and how you tell those stories. So that's what I mean, you got to kind of break the salesperson out of the mold of I'm a different persona when I walk into a customer's office than I am around the campfire, that in fact, that sort of best friend voice, storytelling approach that connects emotionally intuitively is going to be your best friend in a sales cycle, differentiate you from the competitors, but also move the needle on the way the customer reacts, makes perfect sense. Actually, I was working with a client,
Umar Hameed 17:25
and I asked them to it was one of their salespeople, you know, tell me what you guys do. And the guy told me what they did in a way that was uninspiring and made me want to like fall asleep. It was like, okay, you know, your CEO, he's a pretty dramatic and dynamic person, I want you to put on his mask for a moment, and pretend to be him. Now, tell me what your company does. And all of a sudden, he's articulate, passionate, powerful. And so sometimes just giving the people that technique, or put on the mask of you telling stories by the campfire, in your sales setting gives them permission to let go inhibitions and just go for it in an elegant, passionate way. Yeah,
Tim Riesterer 18:04
we do that by showing them our studies and saying, look, the people you're targeting are reacting this way, they're going to actually appreciate this. And they're going to respond in a positive way. So you're like, giving them the evidence that says this is going to work, and now they're willing to try it. And when anybody sort of debates me on, I just don't feel that's going to work. I'm like, you don't feel that way. But where's your study, because we put a natural governor on ourselves the way we feel. But it isn't. In many times, we have interesting intentions, good intentions, but our instincts are actually off when it comes to what will have the greatest impact. So I love your approach. I agree with our approach. Either way, you got to help them see that there's a different way to do it. And the different in this case is much better.
Umar Hameed 18:46
I saw this quote once it was from the guy that did the Pogo, newspaper, comic, and it goes something like this, we've met the enemy, and the enemy is us. And what you're doing is helping people put themselves aside and actually get effective messaging and deliver in a powerful way that gets results.
Tim Riesterer 19:03
Yeah, I try to get them to imagine themselves. I'm not across the desk from someone, but coming around on the same side of the desk, and looking at the industry problems and challenges together, and just sort of psychologically see yourself as helping make that person smarter, not making them feel stupid, helping them see and make sense and make meaning of all the industry issues and how it affects them, not trying to sell them something. And so you just got to give them that, that sense of you know, you're getting into the foxhole with this person to do battle with the enemy which is out there. It's not that you're the adversary. And so you have to introduce these kinds of psycho psychological principles to people so that they can start to embrace the concepts we're talking about in the stories we're building so that they then feel like these are natural communications and conversations they're having as opposed to unnatural acts.
Umar Hameed 19:55
So it's brilliant because I think if you got them to step into the other person's shoes, they detached quality to it. But when you get them to be on the same side with that person, there's this empathetic bond that allows them to actually get a better learning out of the experience.
Tim Riesterer 20:10
Well, certainly, it's the kind of thing that you don't have 20 years to forge a relationship with golf and scotch and all these things. So how do you forge those the good old days, we forge the relationship quickly. And I've studied this, the way you create bonds and trust and rely, you know, reliance more quickly, usually happens when people are forced together during an acute sort of event like a tragedy. All of a sudden neighbors who wouldn't have anything to do we fit with each other are filling sandbags to try and protect each other's homes, despite whatever political stances they have. Or in war, people get in a foxhole together, and it doesn't matter, their political differences or their gender, whatever other preferences are, all of a sudden, they are fast bonded, and in a way that's now inextricable, because they share a common mission against a common enemy. And that's how we try to talk about this story, the the enemies, the changes in the marketplace, and, and the lack of clarity. And the way I'm going to help us I'm going to make meaning and sense and clarity out of it, and then help reflect back what that means for where you are today and where you're trying to go. And by being the person who helps make meaning and sense out of that, and being able to point to it as something that's happening to them, frankly, regardless of whether you're in the room or not. This is these arrows are coming at you creates a shared experience, where you're not the bearer of bad news hear this, the meaning maker of this, and on behalf of both of you, right, so creating a quicker rapport requires, frankly, a common end up shared enemy. And it's all these external pressures and factors that now we're going to try and figure out together. So another psychological tool to kind of create the kind of relationship that you want faster than you can create it in traditional forms. And doing it through bringing this kind of sense and meaning making to the confusion and overwhelming amounts of information out there.
Umar Hameed 22:00
How do people gauge the message that they have right now? How can they test it? To figure out hey, we've got a problem, because sales is a moving complex animal. And so how can they diagnose the message and the delivery? Out of all the background noise?
Tim Riesterer 22:16
Yeah, so we've even like built a rubric for each of these questions. Why change? Why you Why now? Why stay? Why pay and know why evolve? That says, This is the framework for telling that story? And here's how you can like test your stress test your story against this question, does it answer this question? And really, what it comes down to is do you have all the pieces of the messaging framework that work best, and for example, and why change what we typically find is that people will talk about customer needs, but they're the known stated identified needs that they uncovered in discovery or, or Voice of the Customer research. And then they map that to the known capabilities, they have to solve for that. And they think they have a value proposition. The problem is that those no needs are known to you and all your competitors. So they're answering the same questions for the customer. And your portfolio is not that different from your competitors. So you're bringing some of the same things to bear to answer those needs. And lo and behold, you thought you did everything right. And now you're in a commodity story situation, what they're typically missing is they haven't done a good job of identifying and introducing unconsidered needs the thing that the customer hasn't really realized or hasn't prioritized, or doesn't fully appreciate. And then map that to some of your uniqueness and differentiators. So that you can create a story that pushes the urgency envelope right with the unconsidered need, but also pushes the uniqueness button by solving for that in an advantaged way. And people just unwittingly get put into this commodity box, by doing Voice of the Customer research that everybody else is doing and uncovering the same known needs, and mapping them to the similar set of capabilities. And again, just when you thought you did it, right, you did it wrong. So what we see is in the framework, there's always a few pieces in the framework that people are missing, and they have to interrogate their messaging for the question they're trying to answer in the, in the moment of the buying journey they're trying to support real quickly, what I would say is then and then what normally happens is once they figure this out for the customer acquisition, how disruptive you need to be and, and and how you have to defeat the status quo, then they pivot to a renewal with an existing customer or a price increase with an existing customer. And if they use that exact same technique, our science has shown and our research has shown, you will actually decrease the likelihood of renewal and increase the likelihood of switching that in fact, when you are the status quo, you need to reinforce the status quo. The status quo bias psychologically is real. So when you're coming up against it, you have to defeat it, but when you are it you need to reinforce it so that you can strengthen your stronghold. So our our customer retention and expansion frameworks are distinctly different than the customer acquisition. Business Case frameworks for change. And that's another problem area that customers have to interrogate is the stuff you're sending to your existing customers to renew them communicate a price increase, and evolve them to a new platform, the exact same approach you're using, as when you're trying to get a new logo. And if it is, then you've got another problem. So there's number of ways we interrogate this, we review this, and we've had the rubrics to help people even self assess,
Umar Hameed 25:27
give me an example, your best sales deal ever. So
Tim Riesterer 25:32
I would say that we were going into a competitive situation with a very large company, that was presuming they needed to change their sales process, the methodology they use to plan opportunities, and develop and plan accounts. And sales process and methodology, I argue is the administrative part of helping salespeople figure out who they need to meet with and where they need to show up. But it doesn't help them with what are they going to say when they get there? And and and that's where we help companies, it's the what are you going to say, when you get there? That's so important. And it's our belief that customer conversations in the store, you tell him how well you tell it is the key to differentiation, now that products and services sound and smell and look so much alike. And sales process and methodology doesn't embed any kind of differentiation, or any kind of story. It really is administratively helping you track a deal, make sure you're organized to talk to the right people, and make sure that your manager knows how to potentially coach and score and put, you know, put it in the pipeline. But at some point, you got to get in front of a customer and your lips have to move. And there's nothing in your process that's going to help you at that moment. And so what kind of problem are you trying to solve? Here? We challenge the company? Is it you need a better pipeline management system that helps organize your account plans and opportunity management? Or is it that you need to be remarkable, memorable and different, you need to create a sense of urgency to change now, not later, you need to elevate that conversation with business and financial acumen that executive leaders buy off on and you need to manage through the negotiations with skill and plumb. And you also need to be able to renew and upgrade your customers and have great conversations at that level. Yes, well, that's not sales process. That's this. And we call it the customer conversation system. And all of a sudden, we changed the entire framework of the deal from a sales process decision to a customer conversation decision, change the entire specification of that discussion, because they didn't need one more admin tool. The thing that was broke was the salespeople in front of their customers with their lips moving, not being able to tell a story that helps them win. And it was amazing to dislodge both the the initial spec as well as the competitive set by simply reframing the problem they were trying to solve, and then recognizing that as their true problem, and being able to then, obviously be in a position where that was our sweet spot. Does that help? Does that answer your question? It does.
Umar Hameed 28:09
So Tim, a lot of people out there need help? How do they get ahold of you?
Tim Riesterer 28:13
Sure. Our company name is corporate visions, and it's www dot corporate visions, all one word.com. And we have a lot of research there. If you go to our resources, page, webcasts, research briefs, and ebooks with all of our templates in it. So a lot of self feeding self service. I've also written three books you might want to look up on Amazon, the most recent was called the three value conversations before that conversations that when the complex sale. So there are lots of places that in the spirit of the abundance mentality, we give you access to this, these concepts in this information. So sign up to get our regular releases of our research and frameworks, check out the existing stuff, lots for you to chew on there. And then if some point you need to talk to us, you can do it from that same location.
Umar Hameed 29:07
Tim, it was a great interview. Thanks so much. I learned a lot. I'm looking forward to checking out your site and snagging some of those resources.
Tim Riesterer 29:15
Thanks Umar. I appreciate the opportunity.
Umar Hameed 29:22
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at no limit selling.com. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro linguistic programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.