Brian Burns, Host & Founder of top-ranked The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling podcast, talks with Emissary Founder David Hammer on the biggest problems sellers face today, and his shortcut to selling:
Brian Burns: How did you come up with the idea to start Emissary?
David: I don't have a sales background at all - I'm really a product management guy. I worked at Google for about 6 years...and during that time I realized something: Google should have every piece of information in the universe available at its disposal, right? They've got brilliant data scientists and despite all this, we made bad decisions that we were clueless all the time.
That’s because there's a whole category of knowledge that's not on the internet, that's not in data: it's locked up in people's heads. It's stuff that we're not writing down. That’s an amazing frontier for access to knowledge!
Brian: That’s clearly a big problem, but I don’t think I would come up with that idea if I hadn’t been in sales.
David: As an entrepreneur, fundraising has a lot of similarities to a sales process. You need to understand the motivations that drive the people you're meeting with...what they really care about. How do I learn about who I’m pitching to and the right things I need to say? When I looked at sales intelligence, I realized the solutions are pretty limited - they're very static. As much as you love having an old org chart from 2009, it really doesn’t tell you much.
Brian: You mean outdated emails and phone numbers aren’t good enough?
David: As a seller, I can spend 9 months working Bill over (he told me he's the decision maker). But all of a sudden you find out about was Jane, and you’re blindsided. It turns out, Bill has the right title, but nothing happens without Jane.
Brian: There always seems to be one more decision maker than you think there is.
David: So I'll tell you one of my favorite customer stories. There was a Fortune 500 software company selling to a mid-market furniture company. They had been prospecting them for 2 years. Then, they got on the call with their Emissary (he had worked there for 3 years), and he said "Oh yeah, of course you guys are losing, you don't know about Chuck!"
Chuck was not in their org chart, he was the original founder of the company, who was no longer involved with the company, he sat in a separate office in New York, and the rest of the company was in the Midwest. Ultimately Chuck had final decision over all contracts, and he had a very specific way that he liked to see things. You could just hear the jaws dropping on the other side of the call.
Brian: I think too many reps stick with one person...that person willing to converse with them and spend time with them.
David: Yes, and it’s actually completely reasonable. Reps are asked to do more and more. And they're expected to go out and build these deep networks. Then, in their spare time, they hunt down people on LinkedIn. Anyone who has spent time doing cold outreach knows this is painful process. It's really unpredictable. What if we could turn it into something where you can just snap your fingers, and get that knowledge on-demand?
Brian: So Emissary is basically a personal deal coach with valuable information that you can't really get from the outside.
David: Yeah, there are a lot of great sales coaches and solutions out of there. But traditionally, sales coaching is more about process - it’s like the engine. Emissary is the gasoline for the engine.
Brian: When I was in sales, I finally got the company to let me hire an industry consultant. Literally he would walk me into these director's offices (I wouldn't say a word), they'd talk about the good old days, then I’d get introduced to the people I really needed to meet. That's old school. There's a lot of moving pieces where this kind of relationship could fall apart. Especially if it doesn't pay off immediately, because they work more like attorneys and consultants with retainers.
David: You nailed it. What took that guy 30 seconds would have taken you 20 hours. That’s...why both sides walk out happy. One of the first things we ask people is to imagine how they could help somebody sell into the last company they worked at. All of a sudden they light up and they're like "Yeah, I can tell you about Jane, and Bob." It suddenly dawns on them, that's what I can get every single time with Emissary.
Brian: That's the power of it. I can't tell you how many times I wish I had an Emissary when I was doing my deals. All of a sudden the deal would get stuck and it was hard to tell why, or you take an approach and just not getting the result happens with other people, you really need that person who has some insight, some real knowledge of how that company does things.
You can listen to the full podcast here.