Nick Mason Executive Interview Banner

Q: SHOULD SELLING BE VIEWED AS A BUYING EXPERIENCE AND WHY

NICK: I’m a big believer in the power of a great experience in almost any context be it a software user interface, physical product design or pretty much anything else. So yes, I think sales should absolutely be viewed as a buying experience.

Very few people – myself included – really like being sold to. If we think about how we buy as consumers: we do our research, we shop around, we compare options and we make our decisions in our own ways and in our own time based on the information available. We really don’t want or need pushy salespeople trying to talk us into things, rather we want our questions answered and our concerns addressed as we move through our own individual buying journeys.

In business sales, the price tag may be higher and the decisions more important, but the same basic rules apply; people want to be in control as they buy and want to receive support, useful information and insights as they go to help them arrive at a decision they fully understand and are completely comfortable with. For that kind of trust to emerge, the seller needs to focus on providing an exceptional buying experience.

And research from the likes of the Sales Executive Council confirms that this is the right way to go with “the sales experience” being consistently identified as the bigger driver of customer loyalty. So if we want to build long-term value and relationships with our target prospects(and who doesn’t?) we know what we must focus on.

Q: WHAT ARE THE TOP WAYS COMPANIES CAN TRANSFORM SALES TO IMPROVE THEIR PROSPECTS' BUYING EXPERIENCE IN THE NEXT 12-24 MONTHS

NICK: The digital aspect of the buying experience has got to be a key focus for the coming months, especially with so many of us still working from home and the general uncertainty around the likelihood and potential impact of a second wave of COVID19.

In this context, the digital aspects of our buying experiences are going to be more critical than ever. And if we look at the PDFs, PowerPoints, Word Docs and other collateral that businesses typically deploy for prospects to consume – what kind of an experience is really being offered here? Modern? Dynamic? Enjoyable? Personalized? Consistent? On-brand? In most cases, this will be a long string of “no”s.

A good place to start is with an audit of all the digital materials your prospects are being sent by sellers in your business today. And don’t just look at what marketing provides for sellers to use – look at what actually gets sent out by the sales team once customizations and changes have been made.

Then ask yourself: what impression would this make on me if I was sent it as a prospective customer? Would it feel like a high-quality, useful addition to my buying experience?

If your answer is less than positive, then this is an absolute must over the coming months if you want to level-up the buying experience you offer to prospects.

Q: HOW SHOULD COMPANIES DECIDE WHICH BUYING EXPERIENCE IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES TO START WITH - ASSUMING THEY CAN'T DO ALL AT ONCE? 

NICK: Start with an audit of all the key parts of the buying experience you offer and take the time to understand what metrics you have in place for each stage. If you can’t measure what’s going on in a particular stage then you can’t understand how it should be prioritised, so the first step has to be to try and get meaningful metrics for each and every aspect of the experience you offer.

For example, if you do a lot of video demos (and who doesn’t right now) are you able to review and measure what all your salespeople are saying and showing on these calls? If you can’t, then you have no idea how this part of the journey might be impacting outcomes, so it needs to become a priority to get this information.

Equally, if you’re sending a lot of digital collateral out (and again, who isn’t at the moment) but don’t know how it’s being read of whether it’s making an impact, you need to have a plan to get a grip on that because until you have measurement you can’t improve.

You’ll probably end up with a number of areas where you’re light on measurement. You can then prioritise this list and start working through it, but data has to be the keystone of all of your efforts, otherwise you won’t be able to control and manage the outcomes.

As Marissa Mayer once said: ‘With data collection “the sooner the better” is always the best answer’.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ENSURING THAT TECHNOLOGIES CONTRIBUTE TO THE BUYING EXPERIENCE IN MEANINGFUL WAYS? ​

NICK: If you get serious about data as suggested above, you should be able to see where your buyer experience is falling short and select candidate technologies accordingly to fulfill a well-defined hypothesis e.g. “Our demo success rate is X% and this is a weak link in our buying journey. If our sellers start using Product Y, our demo success rate will improve by Z%”.

It’s critical to have this kind of hypothesis before you make a tech investment as otherwise you run the risk of buying excellent technology, but for a problem which isn’t the main obstacle holding you back right now. And once you have the above hypothesis, you’re in a great place to run a trial or PoC with a vendor to see if their tech can deliver against the hypothesis in a controlled subset of your sales team. If it’s successful, you can plan a wider rollout. If not, look for another solution to your problem.

This is really the scientific method applied to sales: problem, hypothesis, test, make conclusions, repeat.

Q: HOW DOES YOUR SOLUTION HELP SELLERS IMPROVE THE BUYING EXPERIENCE? 

Turtl helps salespeople get the attention and interest of their prospects through world-class digital materials. Every piece of content produced in Turtl uses our proprietary, psychology-led format which has been shown by independent research to increase read times by 73% vs PDF and ensure greater retention of the information itself.

On top of this, we also show sales people exactly who is reading the materials they send, what they’re interested in and how they fit into the decision making process. Salespeople can use this intelligence to identify invisible members of the buying group, understand exactly where prospects are in their journey and serve up the right content or insights to keep things moving along. 

And, as researched by Gartner, serving the right information at the right point in the journey has a significant impact on a number of key metrics:

Our recently-released personalization module also allows salespeople to generate perfectly customized materials in a few clicks. This saves every salesperson hours of time wasted each week wrestling with PowerPoint or PDF, ensures branding and messaging are always 100% accurate.

Q: What are some good resources if someone wanted to learn what questions to ask, what others are doing, or factors related to sales transformation?

NICK: In terms of general sales resources, I would recommend looking at resources from the likes of The Daily Sales, Sales Hacker, Sales Confidence, Timothy Hughes, Dan Disney and HubSpot among others. And of course, SmartSellingTools!

Q: What single challenge do you see businesses struggle with most often in sales, and what effect does it have on performance?

NICK: The one challenge I’ve seen in every business I’ve ever worked with or for is that of allowing salespeople to quickly and efficiently produce the right content assets for their prospects. It’s true that sales enablement tools have helped a lot with surfacing the right base materials, but salespeople still need to download them and hack around in PowerPoint to tweak messaging, add a logo, remove irrelevant pages, add new ones and so on.

As a result, salespeople spend a huge amount of time (up to 20%, according to some estimates) on content production activities. And despite best efforts on behalf of the salesperson, the materials produced will often misrepresent the brand, the messaging or both, resulting in reduced impact across the board.

So you have a situation where marketing may be creating fantastic base materials, but these get watered down and weakened at a tremendous time cost to the business because there’s no easy way for sales to customize without having full edit control over the underlying documents.

The reason this is such a critical problem is that it will inevitably have an adverse effect on every piece of content that is deployed by sales, and therefore on every deal in the entire pipeline across the entire business.

If well-branded sales content with consistent messaging is important (and it is!), then what is the cost of not solving this challenge? Or, put another way, what value would solving it have on sales performance? 2% improvement in revenue? 10%? More? And how much would sales performance improve if sellers had an extra 20% of their time back? So the problem (and need for a solution) really does multiply out across the business.

This challenge was a huge driver behind our new personalization functionality and we continue to encounter it on an almost daily basis.

Nick Mason circle

Nick Mason

CEO & Founder, Turtl

Turtl began as a few lines of code written by founder Nick Mason in 2014. His idea for a new way of creating and publishing digital content resonates, and it hasn’t taken long for the company to blossom into the bright and ambitious intercontinental team we are today.

Turtl is a cloud platform that enables non-designers to create, publish and track beautiful interactive content with ease. Turtl’s multi-purpose format is designed around principles of psychology, making for an unparalleled reading experience that both engages and persuades. Sophisticated analytics reveal in detail how your work is read, for how long, and by who, giving you the insight you need to drive more value from your content. Can your PDFs do that?