Myths of Selling to Government

Digging for Treasure, Uncovering Landmines in Sales Discovery for Selling to Government

February 03, 2024 Rick Wimberly
Myths of Selling to Government
Digging for Treasure, Uncovering Landmines in Sales Discovery for Selling to Government
Show Notes Transcript

Embark on a journey to unlock the secrets of winning government contracts with Rick Wimberly on "The Myths of Selling to the Government" podcast. In this episode, Rick sits down with Lorin Bristow, co-author of "Seven Myths of Selling to Government," to delve deep into the pivotal skill of sales discovery.

Celebrating a milestone of 12,000 downloads, Rick emphasizes the importance of questions and active listening in the quest to secure government contracts.  Discover why effective sales discovery is the linchpin of winning government contracts, as Rick and Lorin explore its critical role in understanding customer needs and aligning solutions. Learn how top-performing salespeople excel in discovery and follow-up, distinguishing themselves in the competitive landscape of government procurement.

But the discussion doesn't end there. Lorin introduces Excavase, an innovative online platform tailored to revolutionize the sales discovery process. Dive into the advanced features of Excavase, including standardized questions and AI assessment tools, designed to empower sales teams and maximize their potential for winning government contracts.

As a special incentive for listeners, Rick and Lorin unveil an exclusive offer for podcast listeners,  providing a unique opportunity to enhance your government sales strategy (or any sales strategies, for that matter) and increase your chances of success in securing lucrative contracts.

Don't miss out on this invaluable insight into mastering sales discovery for winning government contracts. Tune in now to "The Myths of Selling to the Government" podcast and take the first step toward government contract success.

Gabby  0:00  

The Myths of selling to the government. The podcast is brought to you by government selling solutions, a consultancy helping companies sell to the government. Now, here's Rick,

Rick Wimberly  0:10  

if you've listened to many of our episodes, and you must have as our downloads have now reached 12,000, and we thank you, you've heard us talk about how important questions and listening are in the quest to make a sale to government or to any organization for that matter. Today, our guest is an expert on how to really make good discovery happen. He's Lorin Bristow, if the name sounds familiar, it may be because he and I wrote the book together seven myths of selling to government, which many of you have read. If not, you can find it on Amazon. Lorin and I had been on many adventures together over the years. I've been wanting him on the podcast for the longest time. And today, whammo, I finally got him. We could talk about many things. But today we focus on the Oh, so important topic of sales discovery. Welcome, Lorin. Thanks,

Lorin Bristow  1:09  

Rick, I am honored to be here. I gotta tell you may not be everything that I know, I learned from you, but a whole lot of it I have. So I appreciate that. And

Rick Wimberly  1:18  

I'd have to say the same about you. I think we have learned a lot of these things together. Lorin, and I have spent hours and hours and hours talking about sales discovery beginning probably 20 years ago, on a pretty afternoon in his backyard when we were preparing to do some work for a client. So we both share the feeling that sales discovery is one of the most important things you can do to be successful in sales. Laura, and explain why

Lorin Bristow  1:47  

as a sales leader for years, you know, I guess I face the unrelenting pressure of my team's meeting quota writing quotas never go down. So how do you keep selling more this year when last year's goals are were hard enough? And a few years ago, in preparing to kick off yet another sales year, I guess I began thinking about the salespeople that I'd worked with in the past who were really outstanding, and again, analyzing what made them stand out above the crowd. While there were definitely several factors, the pattern I noticed most was they were all truly excellent at Discovery and discovery follow up. And I thought that, you know, as a leader, if I could replicate that across the entire team, we definitely drive more sales and be, you know, heroes and success doing this led to my passion, I guess, for improving the discovery process. So

Rick Wimberly  2:41  

Lorin coined the phrase digging for treasure, uncovering landmines.

Lorin Bristow  2:47  

Well, you know, discovery is about first of all, revealing what prospects need and how you can help. Ultimately, this is what creates value. And that's the the treasure part of that. However, it's also about understanding the buying process, and what can possibly blow up the deal. That is also important and often missed.

Rick Wimberly  3:11  

I cannot tell you how many sales meetings I've been in when a salesperson says to me when I asked how a particular call went, Oh, it went great. I told them this. I told him that and I usually no BS is about to follow. That's right. Because if it was a great meeting, what would have really have happened, right?

Lorin Bristow  3:29  

That's where as a sales manager, you often start probing those questions, and you find out yeah, there's a friend fallacy here. It was a great meeting because they were friendly to the sales rep, but that didn't mean they're going to buy.

Rick Wimberly  3:43  

So here's a question. Do you have any stats on the impact of good discovery and what good discovery can do for a sale?

Lorin Bristow  3:53  

You know, I do. Here's some examples. There was a recent study of sales teams across industries by CSO insights. And they found that an average win rate for teams with a formally adopted discovery process one that is, you know, really taught and measured was 56%. Compared to only 43% for teams that did not have a defined discovery process. Now you can just imagine the dollars, you know, that that actually represents. There was another study done by HubSpot. They found that teams with a formal and a thorough discovery process were actually two times more likely to meet quota than teams without it. Well, yeah, it's amazing. The last one was a recent study from LinkedIn. And it was of sales leaders. And 76% of sales leaders felt that pain discovery was the most important success factor in closing deals. So clearly, discovery has a massive impact on success. Well,

Rick Wimberly  4:54  

I knew you would have some stats and some information you always do. Lorin, do you think salespeople are trained well for discovery?

Lorin Bristow  5:04  

Well, I think the answer is, you know, it varies. Clearly, there are sales leaders out there who tend to just throw salespeople into the fire and, and hope for the best. And then there are others that really try to improve discovery because they understand its importance. You know, I'll say my own attempts were initially well intentioned, but probably only modestly effective, you know, I did what others do training sessions and ride alongs you know, spreadsheet of discovery questions, PowerPoint deck of success stories, maybe some collateral material thrown in and a Word template for an executive summary all find things, and certainly better than doing nothing. But I think what I found is that the resources tended to be scattered, and I guess expecting, particularly a new rep to absorb and recall all of this information in the heat of the battle. That was a lot to expect. And so you, you basically just resigned to the fact that it's going to be a long road before salesperson is really adept at Discovery.

Rick Wimberly  6:10  

Well, I wonder about this, do you think the changing business environment makes discovery different, maybe tougher? You

Lorin Bristow  6:19  

know, in my experience recruiting salespeople over the past few years, the environment today does make it tougher, particularly as it relates to turnover, you know, experienced reps, they may have the whole discovery thing worked out, well, they understand the market and pain points and the product, and they have their own stories, they may have a great process for following up. But in an environment where salespeople turnover is rampant sales leaders often see that job specific and institutional knowledge they see that walk out the door. Speaking of stats, Rick, I saw some stats recently where across the, in this case, the technology sector, the average turnover of salespeople is 40% a year, so almost half the team. Yeah, bad enough. But then it takes an average of 59 days to hire a new rep, and then an average of four and a half months to get them fully up to speed. You know, with Discovery's skills, taking months, if not years to fully mature. It's no wonder we struggle with this phase of selling across the board.

Rick Wimberly  7:24  

So when I asked Lorin, well, what do we do about it? He told me about his quest to find something that would help him help his salespeople do better discovery. I

Lorin Bristow  7:36  

wondered if there's something out there are there some apps some technology that that would help with that. And, surprisingly, there's not so much and believe me, I look for it. There's lots of sales enablement, type apps out, there's their CRMs and prospecting databases and quoting tools. But you know, none of these are really geared towards helping a salesperson in the trenches, like on an actual discovery call. And in fact, I think many of these tools are really aimed at the needs of management, not necessarily helping the rep get the most out of any given opportunity.

Rick Wimberly  8:10  

So you built an app? Ha. So

Lorin Bristow  8:14  

I did I did. You know, I know from conversations with sales leaders and salespeople across the country that that I'm not alone, I wasn't alone, there's clearly a gap in the market. So I created an online platform called Excavase. The name is inspired by archaeology where of course, you guessed it, digging deep, can lead to hidden treasure. And overall, the platform, Rick, it's designed to help turn the sales team's discovery process into  a powerful competitive advantage for them. Some examples with it, you can create standardized discovery questions, that helps you to identify common pain points and map those prospect pain points to your solution, which is so much of a gap many times. You can create one click executive summaries, which is really a you know, a real secret sauce, I think, to some successful closing, by the way. It has an AI assessment tool that grades opportunities help helping sales managers and salespeople understand, in an objective way, the quality of their pipeline. It has an insights dashboard to analyze trends from all of this data and more all with hopefully one, one simple solution.

Rick Wimberly  9:28  

One of the things that strikes me is in order to set it up. It kind of forces some real good discussion and collaboration internally. 

Lorin Bristow  9:42  

I think that's a great point. I mean, in addition to being a, you know, a tool for the rep to use in the heat of battle, I think one of the greatest benefits of it is the implementation part prior to getting to that point. It supports thinking of sales leaders and other managers Using the organization and maybe those experienced reps that we talked about potentially walking out the door, you know, how do you capture some of that?

Rick Wimberly  10:08  

So where are you in the rollout of Excavase?

Lorin Bristow  10:12  

Well, it is rolled out and ready for sales teams to implement. If anyone's interested, they can learn learn more @ That's you can request a free demo there be happy to, to show you the the platform or even you can sign up for a free trial.

Rick Wimberly  10:33  

I must say that's very impressive, and tied beautifully to so much we talk about in this podcast. I've seen the app and I like it, which is a bit of an understatement. So as Lorin and I wrapped up and said our goodbyes, I asked him to consider creating a special Excavase deal for our listeners. He agreed and created a code. Gov selling for podcast listeners to get a very, very attractive introductory offer. So all you have to do is go to excavate ace II X ca and enter the “govselling” capitalized or not, it doesn't matter. You know, it's hard for me to say how much I enjoyed having Lorin on the podcast. And I bet you did too. Thanks for listening everybody.

Gabby  11:31  

Today's episode has been brought to you by government selling solutions government selling solutions getting government sold