At OnCourse, the makers of your favorite sales automation software, we’re focused on helping sales teams automate many of their sales processes through the use of our powerful sales CRM.

However, we go beyond the use of technology as a means to help sales professionals succeed. We’re big believers in sales related education. Therefore, from time to time we bring in sales experts from around the world to help educate you, our blog readers, about various ways you can improve your performance as a sales professional.

Today, OnCourse had the opportunity to speak with Ian Moyse, a sales leader in the cloud industry and one of the most followed sales influencers online.

We have an exciting interview planned for you today, so without further ado, let’s jump in!

The Interview

💬  We're thrilled to have you with us today so we can pick your brain about your involvement in the sales industry. Can you help us kick off the interview by telling us what it was about sales that pulled you in and never let you go?

I got involved in computing at age 14 when a neighbor moved in with a ZX81 and from 10 print "Ian"  20 goto 10  I was hooked. I initially worked at IBM as a programmer/analyst, but was drawn against all family advice to leave to join a small local firm in IT inside sales and I never looked back.

I was attracted by the chance to earn more quicker, the competitive element and the ability to write your own destiny.

💬 Can you tell us a little bit more about your sales journey?

I initially started with inside sales. I worked harder than I needed to in order to make myself an obvious choice for promotion to field sales, which I gained 11 months in.

I looked to learn from all around me, by analyzing my colleagues behavior (both good and bad), by their success and failures and I looked to plagiarize the good I saw and transform it into my own version.

Through working hard in sales to deliver results I started to manage inside sales people, the external through to managing Sales teams. I have helped drive sales teams in small startups many times. I’ve been through 5 acquisitions and also managed a large team of 40 across EMEA in one role.  

"What has been consistent through my journey has been a willingness to always learn from those around me, even marginal gains all add up. It’s important to be willing to adjust and change as needed based on your role, market and customer dynamics."  

💬  Since you began your career in sales, have you noticed any changes in the sale's cycle? If so, what are those changes?

In my initial selling days, we mostly used the desk-phone, then fax, sometimes email as it emerged and a lot of in person meetings. Mobile phones were used, but often you had no signal and had to stop for that phone box to check into the office still!

The past 10 years has seen the most change with smartphones becoming the norm, with web 2.0 providing us social media sites like Linkedin where you can research people and learn more about who they know, what they like and so on.

The buyer dynamic has changed and will never change back. The buyer, be it B2C or B2B, has changed and is more informed than ever before.  Before a sales person reaches a customer, the customer has already been  influenced by the web, peer to peer comments and social media.

A salesperson's job today involves being more prepared than ever before, coming with insights (not just product knowledge) and knowing the market and competition well.

"The COVID experience of WFH has highlighted the importance of digital selling components like never before. Your personal brand online needs to be impeccable and tuned to your buyer. This is an area where I see most salespeople failing."

💬 How have you seen technology wisely used to aid teams while dealing with some of these changes?

In today's selling world sales people still need to align to the buyer dynamic they are facing. Humans are still making the buying decision, they are not relaying on some Automaton or AI to evaluate and procure. We are still seeing in person meetings (virtual for now as i write), RFI, RFQ, ITT's and people reviewing and evaluating information and opinions to come to a decision on what to purchase or who to partner with.

Technology tools to aid and supplement sales processes are all valid and essential in a world where we are all busier and have more noise coming at us 24*7, BUT...... technology tools do not do the selling for us, they still need expertise and experience to leverage and utilise them for the best outcome.

I see all too many examples of average to poor salespeople, given tools and using them badly. Take the basic Linkedin approach, where sales and marketing teams send SPAM messages hoping some will stick.

💬 Prospecting, of course, plays a big role in helping sales teams get more leads in the pipeline. In your experience in the world of sales, how involved have you been in prospecting? How has the prospecting experience bettered you as a salesperson?

All sales people would ideally sit on a flow of perfectly qualified leads, that they easily close. But if this were the case would the sales rewards not be lessened and the value of skill and experience not demand the higher recompense sales desires?  

Driving leads has become a more difficult challenge for marketing  due to the changing dynamic of how we all digest information and make decisions. We are all more informed than ever before and have access 24*7 to comparison sites, peer reviews and information about products, services, companies and people.

In a not so distant past, you may have seen an advert and called that company to find out more. However, today most companies have a website, a social media presence and often even  an QR code. It’s so easy today to find a product or service and then quickly find who else offers something similar.

"Prospecting is all about identifying those who match your ideal buyer persona, attracting them to you and your offering and to taking them through a buying journey as effectively as possible.  This involves engaging the prospect, giving them insightful content, and being faster and more effective in the modern communication world than a competitor. "

Prospecting for a sales person today is the hardest it has ever been. Prospecting is easy to dismiss or sidestep with so many other distractions. You’ll often hear people say “I am too busy working deals”, “too busy out in meetings”, “I’m waiting for marketing to deliver me leads”!  

Prospecting today is about not just picking up the phone, but using all methods and mediums available to you as a salesperson to broaden your opportunity to engage with prospects who align to your target buyer persona at every level. This involves your personal brand, social selling, smart data insights and good content delivering value to your prospect.

💬 How have you seen networking evolve over the last 5-10 years?

It has gone from in person events to 100% online due to Covid and this has accelerated the change we have already seen happening.  Networking is about making a new contact through whatever means necessary and then focusing on building rapport and then finally relationship building.

Too many however mis-interpret rapport for a relationship (eg you can ask a stranger politely on the street for the time and through quick rapport get the answer, but asking them for £10 shows that rapport isn't even enough). The bigger the ask, the stronger the relationship that’s needed!  

We see too many using old approaches in new environments and failing badly. You have all had  a LinkedIn connect request, followed by an immediate sales pitch in the next message upon accepting.  

💬 What three things can salespeople do today to help them better articulate their value?

Firstly, Ask more questions, too many think telling is selling. Professional questioning builds value and allows you to better align to the customers true buying levers and needs and also positions you in a stronger position to engage appropriately or disengage if not a good fit.  

Second, Understand your value proposition and how it compares to the competition well enough to articulate fluidly the parts that relate to this prospect's needs.

Thirdly, deliver insights to the clients desired outcomes, their market, challenges of similar businesses; customers want insights that add value to their role and need.

💬 In your experience, what are the levers that salespeople / sales teams can pull to increase sales quickly? Where should sales professionals first look for this low hanging fruit?

This for me comes back to the core cadence metrics of conversation rates (from leads to opps to close), momentum (how long is your average time to close), and average deal size. If you can move these dials in combination, you can improve outcome performance greatly. It's not rocket science, do a higher average size deal, close a little quicker and close a higher % you engage with and the needle jumps from these marginal gains combined.  

"Core is to have sales people focus on the right customer persona and select where you will win and where the value is and not chase everything. Qualify harder and earlier, disengage if you and the customer are not a good fit and focus efforts on the ones you will win that will give the greatest aligned returns."

💬 What are the three biggest sales mistakes you see companies (both big and small) make when designing sales processes? Why do you think these mistakes are made, and what can companies do to avoid these mistakes?

Firstly they do not involve the sales team at all levels, not just leadership and management, In the field sales people, inside sales, telesales, sales operations;  get input from those at the core about the customer needs, and system and process challenges around these.

Consider that it's not just a process that needs aligning but also technology and the people involved. People, process, technology and data all need to align to deliver an effective and efficient sales process.

Thirdly, when making changes to the processes (which will need to be done along the journey) involve the team ahead of time, gather feedback, communicate and test before going live. It's important to have a 360 view and input and a cyclical process of; define need, evaluate impact, propose change, review, test and communicate.

💬 What are some of the most successful strategies you’ve seen online entrepreneurs use when it comes to building relationships online? Are the relationship building rules different online vs. offline?

Online relationship building starts with rapport as it does in person. You cannot jump to a relationship via some clever shortcut as many mistakenly assume.  In person at an event you don't walk up to someone cold and start pitching so why do this on social!

Instead, chat about the journey. What are you here to learn more about today? Start with small talk to build rapport.

An online initial touch point, as I have proven, can often be developed into a real world meeting over time. This can involve looking for social media triggers such as a prospect sharing a post, writing a blog, commenting, posting a tweet etc - anything where you can authentically engage with.  

This is the social nurture.

What you want to work towards is that person ideally likes back, comments and engages back and sometimes chooses to follow you from seeing value in your content and engagement to have you as a connection.  This is not an immediate gratification approach and hence why sales people try to short cut it to their peril and failure.

Thank you greatly for taking the time to chat with OnCourse’s blog readers today Ian. We really appreciate it. To our sales blog audience, if you’d like to learn more about Ian and the work he does, you can follow him on twitter or visit his website here.