Episode 33: Simon Elliot – How to Shift From Just Selling What You Have to Sell to Offering Client Solutions That Create Long-Term Partnerships
In this episode, Brynne and Bill are joined by Simon Elliott, managing partner and co-founder of 4xi Global Consulting & Solutions.
Tune in as they talk about why you should start thinking about how you can change the cultural mindshift of an organization as well as begin demonstrating behaviors that will make a difference.
Simon Elliot 0:00
You know, LinkedIn with 740 million members globally, is kind of a, a sensible way to, to reach out and build networks of like minded people, and what I’ve always found really interesting is that it shouldn’t, first of all, be a Facebook, and it shouldn’t either be a sales tool, right? But it’s a way that you could nurture connections, contacts and spark interesting conversations that can help sort of progress the conversation around your subject matter.
Bill McCormick 0:43
Welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 0:46
And I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 0:48
So Brynne, who’s joining us today?
Brynne Tillman 0:50
An old friend, and someone that I trained I think, probably going on 10 years ago, at Aramark. Aramark was a new client of mine, I believe we were in Chicago, I think in training, and I was getting ready, and Simon came up and introduced himself, and told me he was awesome at LinkedIn, and I said to him, great share with me, if you remember this, share with me at the end, anything I missed, and then write down anything you might have learned new, and at the end, you had a great list for me. Do you remember that? Simon?
Simon Elliot 1:25
You’ve got a much better memory than I do Brynne. But well done, 10 out of 10, we’re notarizing at this point.
Brynne Tillman 1:32
Yeah, oh my gosh, I loved it, and I got some tips from you, and hopefully, you got some tips for me. So we’re very excited. Simon has his own company now called 4xi Global Consulting, and Simon, welcome. Tell everyone a little bit about you and your consulting group.
Simon Elliot 1:51
Well, thank you very much Brynne, for inviting me today to the Social Sales Link. So 4xi Global Consulting firm focuses on the world of work in the constituents within the world work, corporations you want to make a better employee experience, service providers want to deliver a better deeper, more strategic partnership range of services, and the third element is innovators. So those organizations who have a product or service or technology or a thing that they want to expand into the world work.
Brynne Tillman 2:29
That’s great. That’s fantastic. So Bill, I’m really excited to hear the first question.
Bill McCormick 2:35
So Simon, we ask every guest the same question to start out, what does making sales social mean to you?
Simon Elliot 2:41
Well, I think it’s a very interesting subject, and one to integrate, advocate over many years, since the creation of primarily LinkedIn, now LinkedIn with 740 million members globally, is kind of a, a sensible way to, to reach out and build networks of like minded people, and what I’ve always found found really interesting is that it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t first of all, be a Facebook, and it shouldn’t either be a sales tool, right? But it’s a way that you can nurture connections, contacts and spark interesting conversations that can help sort of progress the conversation around your subject matter.
Bill McCormick 3:25
Great answer, that’s fantastic. So tell us when you’re consulting with your clients, what is it that you teach them, in the physical, the traditional sales world that they can do that applies, that will help them right at the top of their sales funnel, right at the top of their pipeline.
Simon Elliot 3:43
So we developed a proprietary methodology called True North. Over many years in professional large sales organizations, I’d been exposed to several different sales methodologies, and over the years, I got frustrated that they were more about driving administrative processes than actually driving behaviors and actions, and we created True North, as a methodology to really tackle that, and to start, start thinking about how you can change the culture of mind shift of an organization, and to start demonstrating behaviors that actually make to make a difference. So the very start of True North it talks about the basis of foundations of partnerships of trust, and integrity, and credibility, but then it quickly goes into, okay, a really important part of deep self reflection, whether that’s an individual or an organization, what are you good at when you’re not so good at, where are you strengths in terms of geographic geographies, in terms of services, when the examples of your best client relationships and how can you how can you replicate them, right? So out of that really deep self-reflection comes a client characterization exercise. So how big is your ideal client? Where is your ideal client? What’s the culture of those ideal clients? What’s the philosophy, even their terms of business and how they do business, right? And then from the characterization, and then to step into client profiles. So what are the groupings of clients that you are really interested in, where you can more likely succeed in, and then once you’ve done those two lenses, then to create an ideal client target list, and put in natural names and boxes of actual organizations, where you’re more likely to not only survive, but to thrive with as true partnerships in the future.
Brynne Tillman 5:45
So I love that and and you’re right, like when I–soon as you said that, and I look at all the sales training I’ve ever been through, or all the sales training I’ve ever taught, it really is process driven, it is, you say this, then you say this, you do this, you look up this, you fill out, you know, the golden, green and blue sheets, you do right, all those process driven things. How difficult is it when you go into a company that has no, really defined philosophy or culture to change those behaviors?
Simon Elliot 6:33
Well, I think, you know we’ve been fortunate so far, but the organization knew, that they think it’s a breath of fresh air, but for the larger organizations who have established these long term relationships and other methodologies, that frankly, they are administrative process driven, and, you know, people will say: “Hey Brynne, have you completed that sheet on that client? Oh, crikey, I’ve not looked at it for a year. Let’s revisit it and put it back in the drawer gathering dust where it’s been for the last year”. What is the point of that? Right? So the clients that we’re working with see is a real breath of fresh air, of taking a very different look, at a more practical look, and getting into action quickly. Because, you know, we can talk about methodology and theory all day long. But when it comes to growth, right, we want to get through the methodology quickly, to get to action, to get the job itself.
Bill McCormick 7:26
So what I love about this is, it’s a theme that I’ve been seeing lately within the sales training world, and I’m so pleased to see it coming about. So we have this analytical side, this practical side, this administrative side of you need to do A, B, C, and D and that’s what most sales training people that a company will bring in will teach, because that’s geared towards if you do these actions, you’ll get these results. But you’re talking about these softer skills, what I would describe the softer skills of inner reflection of the person. So tell me and tell all of our listeners, who are salespeople themselves, what are a couple of key inner softer skills, inner skills, that they can be working on now, that’s going to help them to secure more deals that have more prospects, to run a better business meeting or sales meeting.
Simon Elliot 8:18
So I’ve always been a great fan of Apple, and Apple in a product sense, they’ve actually changed the experience of owning a device. As those old enough to remember, having a mobile phone 20 years ago, we needed a degree in computer science to be able to open the box, go get and program it, and get it working. With Apple, you get a beautiful box, and you open the box, it’s an experience, you get the device, you plug it in, you have five or six keystrokes, and your phone’s working. So the theme is about simplicity, we recently wrote a paper around sustainability, simplified and massively complex. But the root of it is actually kind of simple, right? We need to take a look after our planet, for our immediate future generations to come as well, and putting a piece of trash in the bin isn’t rocket science. It’s like an old CEO of mine once said, we were talking about a particularly challenging complex problem, and he said: “Hey, you know, if we want to solve world hunger, we probably can’t do it in a day. But if each of us gives a sandwich to our next door neighbor, and you each do that thing every day, we’re going the wrong way to make an impact”, and it’s those things of simplicity, that really when I think about the sales process, it’s so so important, and we can often over complicate it, when it’s actually not rocket science. So around really listening, learning, and understanding the client. Without those three things you have no foundation to be able to solve anything, and then to create solutions, and articulate those solutions in a simple manner. That’s also embracing the vernacular, and the culture and the philosophy of the organization or the person that you’re speaking to, and really get that alignment, right? And, again, going back to True North, and the simplicity element of it, this is about driving behaviors that turn a cultural shift from, you know, “I’m going to sell you what I have to sell”, versus solving client solutions that create impact, that create long term partnership and value, and everybody wins in that scenario.
Brynne Tillman 10:50
So I love that one of the things that we often say is: “Detach from what the client is worth to you, and attach to what you are worth to your client”. And so I hear that in you, you know, I have kind of a deeper, it’s really not a deeper, but a social selling question, to go along with that research that pre-discovery that you were talking about. What would you say to some of your clients? What would you tell them to do with LinkedIn or social selling for that pre-work, for that starting to understand your client even before you have that first call?
Simon Elliot 11:28
I’m not sure why that question. But I guess, it’s because we want to revive, and don’t sell. I think there’s something interesting about the anti-sale, whether you are on LinkedIn, or wherever you are, it’s not about what I have, that I want to sell to you. Because that relation should become very adversarial. Right? Whether you’re talking about sustainability simplified in the planet, or the sales context, it’s actually doing the right thing, because it’s doing the right thing in any scenario, including in a business development and growth, you’re more likely to succeed, and here’s the most important part, you’re more likely to succeed for the long term with sustainable partnerships, and if you get to that point, you’re probably going to be creating more revenue, and you’re probably going to be more valued. So you’re probably going to make more profit as a result, and you’re both going to benefit from the arrangement. Right?
Brynne Tillman 12:23
So I love that, the word about them, right? So obviously, there’s discovery, there’s learning about where their gaps are and where their challenges are. But do you have any advice before the first call? Like googling their company page, looking at press releases, anything that you look for on LinkedIn, to give you sort of these little trigger moments in understanding who they are, and what matters to them first.
Simon Elliot 12:50
I think you’re trying to say Brynne, is that I didn’t answer the question, the first time.
Brynne Tillman 12:54
No, your answer was fabulous.
Simon Elliot 12:57
So there’s the writers in this classroom, you just do so much work, they know so much about you, that can feel a little bit intrusive, right? (Brynne) Okay. (Simon) At the other end of the scale, there’s the person who doesn’t do any research whatsoever. So I think the middle ground is really trying to, not to say: “Hey Brynne, when I knew that you went to this school in 1982, and you went here, and this worked here”, and rather than sort of spilling all that out, with this: “Hey, I’ve done my research, how good am I?”, it’s more understanding about cultural alignment. Because the more culturally aligned you are to an individual or to an organization, then you’ve got more chance that you actually liked each other in progress into something more meaningful than just the compensation. So if you’re talking about researching a company, to understand what the philosophy of the company is, right, not only the details of how big they are, where they are, what they do, clearly, that’s really base stuff, but what’s their philosophy? And what’s their culture? And not just about the things or the products, or the services they provide. But what do they stand for, as an organization? What’s important to them? Right, things like philanthropy, and sustainability, and you know, how they support the local community. Really important thing, because it’s not just about the mind, it’s about the hearts as well, and creating those. You can only create those cultural connections if you really understand.
Brynne Tillman 14:44
I love that, and that’s easy to do. It’s easy to find out what charities they’re supporting, and what they’re sponsoring, I think that’s fabulous.
Bill McCormick 14:53
Yeah, and I think we go back to what Simon started out by saying, he was talking about the you know, that ideal client profile, we talked about that a lot, and I always say you need to have one. Because if you know, not everyone is your client. But never thought, never considered adding in that aspect of it, that I want my ideal clients, I want the companies that I work for to also be good, made up of good human beings, and as a corporate entity for them to be a good corporate citizen in the world, but if they are, then it just makes it so much easier to connect on something that’s past the business of relationship, but connect as humans, you know, now, because we’re not meeting face to face yet. It looks like maybe that might start happening soon, but what is soon, but right now we’re connecting through a screen, but we can still connect, and if we can connect at a deeper level, just in a human space. I think it gives us a more comfortable way in order to kick the can down the road, so to speak, in establishing a business relationship, so that was a great point.
Simon Elliot 16:10
Actually, I think back when understanding that’s not just about solution creation, it’s about understanding the people that you’re dealing with as well, right? Because, again, if you’re entering into long-term partnerships and relationships, you need to be on the same page, right? And it really helps if you’re dealing with like minded people and good human beings.
Bill McCormick 16:32
Yeah, yeah, I heard Scott Schilling say recently, he talked about that every conversation we go into, it should be, we should come in with high intention, but low attachment. High intention to do whatever we can to help the person that we’re talking with, but a low attachment to the outcome, to not worry about, well, is this going to end up being a deal? Or is this going to end up being no, low attachment, I’m just here to serve you and help you, and I think as sales professionals, the more that we do that, the more clients will see us as someone who can be trusted, and when they trust us, then we know we build credibility, and that can only better edit everyone.
Simon Elliot 17:16
And being brave enough to walk away, where there isn’t a good match and fit, and that’s equally as important as well. Because, you know, creating that cultural attachment, and alignment is so significantly important in terms of going to business.
Brynne Tillman 17:36
Love it. Yeah, yeah.
Bill McCormick 17:37
I think we, all of us that are in sales, can tell a story of doing business with someone, and you just know that it’s just not a good fit. But maybe you’re doing it because it’s a quota, or maybe you’re doing it because you need that cheque or whatever, and you get into it, and you’re like: “What did, why did I do this?”. You know, and you end up having to fire the client, and so that happens. Well, one last question, and this has to do with consistency is one thing we always like to ask. So what’s one thing that you tell your clients to do, you teach your clients to do, that when they do it consistently, will create opportunities for them?
Simon Elliot 18:19
To come back to your point, we started to really build a foundation in relationships and partnerships for the long term, and the cultural alignment, of course, is really important, and the profiling to make sure that you’re curating to an audience that is a really good fit for you, and again, forgive me, I’m not answering the question directly. But I want to raise the point about shiny bright objects. How many times have we come across shiny bright objects, that you come to a client that doesn’t fit into our client portfolio at all. But it’s really big, and it’s really exciting, and maybe we can’t even actually satisfy the terms of that client. But we’re going to change it anyway, because of all of this and also on all nighters, the philosophy, the methodology, but the reality we talk to our clients is, that if you profile better, you’re going to build a better quality pipeline. If you change your behaviors in such a way that you’re listening, learning, understanding, and you’re articulating, whatever your thing is back to the client, in a trusted advisor way, you’re going to increase your conversion ratio. So it’s not just blushing fluffy, you’re going to be doing less volume of effort, more high quality of effort, and you’re going to convert more business, that’s profitable and sustainable.
Bill McCormick 19:50
Yeah, you’re gonna slow down your outreach, to increase your outcome, which is something that Brynne and I have been saying for weeks, and weeks, and weeks. So you just articulated it. In just a different way and that was perfect, that was great. Well, listen Simon, this has been fantastic. Thanks so much for being on the show. One last thing, how can people get in touch with you, find out more about True North? That sounds like an incredible product.
Simon Elliot 20:15
Bill McCormick 20:27
Fantastic, and we’ll make sure we put that in the show notes everyone. Thanks so much for watching this episode of Making Sales Social, so bye everyone. Thanks again Simon.