Design the Sale

{{ show.title }}Trailer Bonus Episode {{ selectedEpisode.number }}
{{ selectedEpisode.title }}
{{ speed }}x
{{ selectedEpisode.title }}
By {{ }}
Broadcast by

John-Henry Forster and Erin May join us from to talk about the role of customer interviews in designing a great sales process. John-Henry reveals his top online pillow company as we discuss how sales can trust product, product can trust sales, and how maybe everyone can just agree to hate marketing instead.

Episode notes: customer interviews & the listening mindset

On the latest Design The Sale show, John-Henry Forster and Erin May from joined me to talk about how sales teams can use customer interviews to improve the sales process.

In case you missed it:
Listen on
Listen on
Listen on the

The conversation got me thinking about how much we miss when our customers are speaking to us, because we aren't in the right mindset to hear it.

On the show, Erin talked about how the Head of Sales at began sitting in on UX research interviews with their users and customers.

Now, sales people talk to customers every day — often more than product and design people do. What could a sales person have to learn from a UX research session?

But turning off that "sales lens" put him in a different frame of mind. He was able to hear things that he'd never heard before, and feed that knowledge into improving how his team approached customers.

In a way, he had been falling into the same trap as design teams do during user testing: we want our design to be the right one, so too often we subtly guide our user toward giving us the answers we want to hear. But then, when it comes time to use the product, it doesn't work the way that it should.

Similarly, when you're selling, you're probably listening only for problems you have a ready-made solution to. Instead, try spending some time with your research hat on: what are your customers really saying? What are the root causes of the challenges they're facing? And, most importantly, what can we do better as a company to help?

That could mean refining your sales process to help your customers make decisions. It could mean updating your marketing materials so your customers come to you with a better understanding of the problems they have. Or it could even mean changing something in your product itself to make it easier to buy.

Sales and product are both trying to solve problems by talking to people and learning from them. They have a lot to learn from each other, too.

Design the Sale is a show about selling smarter using lessons from the worlds of design and technology.

Subscribe to get post-show notes (like what you read above) and episode updates in your inbox every week.


Erin May: Hi, I'm Erin May. I am the VP of Marketing at User Interviews, and we are a toolset that helps researchers, product managers, designers, anyone who wants to talk to their users, to do that through recruiting, logistics, we have a CRM to build your own panel, lots of cool stuff. So that's what we do.

John-Henry Forster: And I'm John-Henry Forster. I'm the VP of Product at User Interviews. And Erin already explained what we do, so, I think I'm good

Geordie Kaytes: Cool. So, how does User Interviews come in to the sales process? Where do you guys, where have you seen the talking with users and — or customers — and understanding their perspective, how do you see that fitting in, in your experience?

John-Henry Forster: I think in the simplest sense, user research is cool in the sense of, it has a title now which kind of elevates the craft. The downside of that is, I think, it can make it seem like a little intimidating. Because really, at its simplest, if you want to learn something about somebody, a good way to do that is to speak to them and listen to them.

And so when you're thinking about any sort of process you're trying to optimize, going out and talking to the people affected is a pretty good way to get more context on how you might be able to go about doing that. And so I think sales falls into that bucket very cleanly for me: if you want to understand someone's motivations, what their problems are, and so just going and finding a way to talk to them is a pretty good way to level up your understanding of what they care about.

Geordie Kaytes: Do you guys have a couple of examples that you have seen sales being enabled or helped by talking with users or customers through your platform?

Erin May: Yeah, I think traditionally — and what still you're seeing a lot of which is great — is that sales is kind of the department always talking to users and customers, and would-be customers. And so ideally they're bringing in a lot of signal and feedback into the other teams that way.

But we're starting to see feedback loops happening across teams in a sort of omnidirectional fashion. So you're seeing when a user research team might want to go out and talk to your prospects, or people like the ideal customer who isn't already a customer, they're then bringing that feedback back to the sales team, so that they can use those insights to inform the language that they're using, how they're selling, and things like that.

So you're starting to see, I think, the different feedback that different teams are getting through their various processes, all coming together so that everyone can take advantage of it.

Geordie Kaytes: And what's the difference between the feedback that  product people will get on a user interview, versus what sales people would get just from talking with prospects and customers? Obviously, besides the fact that prospects and customers are not necessarily same people as users, is there any difference in the nature of the conversations in the types of things that you're trying to understand?

Erin May: Well, I think that one thing that sales teams have really started to borrow from product teams is a focus on listening, and on value selling. So, starting with understanding what are the underlying problems and needs of the customer, and then getting into kind of what's the right solution, given that reality?

And so I think that demos are starting to take more of a consultative and a listening format. But to your question, you're going to get different information based on the goals of those different kinds of interviews. A demo is still, you know, a sales opportunity, and so that is kind of the underlying agenda there, whereas in a product setting, I think the agenda really is to learn and to validate, and so I do think that gives you sometimes broader and less biased insights.

Geordie Kaytes: Do you ever run into cases where someone who's used to  doing a sales call will be trying to do a user interview and try to sell them? Or vice versa — I actually find myself doing this a lot, where when I'm actually trying to sell, I'm so used to doing user interviews that I find myself not really... Not really selling. I find myself doing a lot of just pure information gathering, and then the person kinda walks away being like, "Well, I feel like I didn't learn very much from that conversation."

Erin May: I say we've done a lot of research at — we call it "Research at UI" which is our initiative where everyone here at User Interviews participates in user research to the extent that they have time and interest, and so our Head of Sales has been part of that, and has spoken to how kind of disarming and enlightening and cool it's been to turn off that sales lens, and to really only focus — and he's like the coolest sales guy, you know, not a not a pushy person — but, you know to kind of have to, you know, turn that voice down and not try to sell.

And that when you do that, you do open yourself to learning. So I think that it's been really cool for him, not just to learn more about our customers without trying to  sell at the same time, but also to inform future demos based on those learnings.

John-Henry Forster: We have one user of User Interviews I'm not going to name, but I think it depends on the business. They have a very specific target customer that they need to find in a very specific stage of their life.
And so, we're able to help find them for them, and they're able to get great feedback, but I've spoken to him afterwards and he's like, "It's really hard at the end of it not to be like, hey, do you want to follow up with like some real stuff?" Because the targeting of their profile is really hard. And so, you know, that's where our tool is useful.

But I think if you're in that case, where it's really hard to find your exact user, it's hard to turn off that instinct. Whereas if your users are more common, like anybody can maybe use your service or app, I think it might be a little bit easier to resist that urge.

Geordie Kaytes: Sure. Yeah because you're not — you don't feel like you don't have a scarcity mindset around, "Oh my God, if I let this person off the phone, this is it for the week."

John-Henry Forster: Yeah, exactly. If you're if the leads aren't kind of flowing in, it's hard to let one slip through your fingers.

Geordie Kaytes: Yep. Yep. Do you ever notice a difference between —  when you're trying to get product and sales to talk to each other and do that great interchange of contact with customers and learning from from their conversation — is there any cultural divide or difficulty in that communication? Just based on the way that salespeople and product people differ, and how they like to approach conversations, and the tooling that they like to use to talk to each other?

John-Henry Forster: That's a great question. I think... I think we've heard some of the guests on our podcast Awkward Silences, where they've shared the notion of just starting together. Like if you're starting down a path of learning, or a new product feature or research, getting everybody in the room from the start, even if they're not going to be involved throughout the process, does a lot for shared understanding and feeling like you're on the same team later.

And so I think to the extent that you want to offset it, that's one strategy, but it's... I think where you see it a lot, at least in my experience on product stuff, is when you start getting into anything to do with pricing. Like how you might package a set of features, or how you might let users use them or trial them. I think that's where you can get pretty different perspectives between those those two teams.

Geordie Kaytes: Not just different perspectives, but even inability to communicate as well?

John-Henry Forster: Yeah, I mean literally in some cases different goals. Like the product person might be keyed around usage, and the sales person might be very keyed around revenue, and ideally those things align, but there's different strategies to get there.

And pricing is a really tough one to try to learn through user research, right? Like it's it's hard to ask somebody, "What would you pay for this?" I know there's different tactics and techniques people deploy, but it's a tough one. So when you get into those topics between the two teams, I think that's one where it can be especially tricky to resolve.

Geordie Kaytes: Sure. Do sales people in your experience, when interacting with product, tend to tend to bring useful information to product? Or is it more data flowing in the other direction, of product explaining to sales what the latest features are, and how they should be positioning it?

Because I know there's kind of an awkward interplay between sales and marketing and product, and who's in charge of what, and who owns the personas, and who owns the the value proposition, and what we're supposed to be talking about first. Do you ever find that there's either an imbalance, or just data tends to be flowing more one way than the other?

John-Henry Forster: It's tough in my experience. I don't know if it's because you know, we're a company that does user research and we're like very new-agey, or whatever, right?

But I know there's this stereotype of, you let sales come in and give feedback on your product roadmap or share stuff, what they're hearing from users, because you know that's coming through their lens or whatever. And that just hasn't been my experience at a couple different places.

I don't know if that's just because we were smaller and it was earlier stage, and so there was kind of a personal connection and trust and relationship that was there that maybe is difficult to replicate in a large organization, or I've just been lucky to work with good sales people or you know, whatever it may be. But I've always enjoyed the information I get inbound from sales. Like to Erin's earlier point, they're often on the front lines talking to users more often in a day than I am. And so I think maybe there's a grain of salt you have to take it with, but I tend to value it.

And I think in the other direction, I think the style of communication from product to sales is something that can be done in a lot of different ways. You can show them what's being worked on, or you can only give them the final product and the product marketing to go out and position and sell it.

So I think that kind of depends on the organization of how and when you want to get them involved. I am, you know, I favor getting them involved earlier, so that they are getting a lot of information and can help see what's in progress and have that context.

But I know in some other cases, you know, people want to not distract sales with stuff that's maybe is not finished, or might never be implemented, and then they go off and mention it to a customer and now you're in a situation where the customer's excited about something you're not actually going to build. So there are downsides to that.

Erin May: Yeah, and I think too, you know, we're being reductive kind of on purpose in terms of talking to different departments, but it's a person-to-person, organization-to-organization thing in terms of, I think we can all fall victim to skipping to the solution or skipping to our own KPIs or OKRs or whatever we're trying to accomplish, and skipping past or ignoring the user need that's behind that, or that is being ignored. And I think that can happen both for sales and product and marketing and everybody else.

So that's what I'm always kind of looking out for, is: are we getting to the solution before we've understood the context that would warrant the solution? And again I don't think inherently a sales or product problem, but I think that is something that does happen in all organizations, and the more we're kind of sharing our user insight, and the context that brought us to our decisions, the more we can all kind of check each other to make sure that that is not happening.

Geordie Kaytes: So, sales is out there talking with users or customers every single day, right, or hopefully many many times a day. But the conversations are mediated through the sales process itself, through potentially a playbook, or guide, or script even. Whereas on the product side, we have a completely different way of thinking about talking with users.

The goals are obviously very different, but it's also not, as you guys talked about, is not necessarily in the service of getting a sale. Is there also a role for sales to be having these conversations — or maybe not sales, but for sales to be leveraging sales-directed customer interviews, or customers interviews that are designed to understand the customer without making a sale? Or do you think it can all be gathered just through the standard sales process itself, and the fact that they're talking to users every day, customers every day?

Erin May: Yeah. We just did a small survey at User Interviews, and kind of asked folks — this is among some of our most active customers,  so someone in the team is doing a lot of user research — and so we asked them, "What teams at your company overall are conducting user research themselves?" And actually, sales was not well-represented.

Geordie Kaytes: Yeah, I would have guessed.

Erin May: Compared to, I mean you can imagine that UX and product teams were the most well-represented, but we saw a better representation among founders, among marketers, among operations. It was the worst on sales teams.
And I'm going to make an assumption that that's because sales is talking to customers and prospects all the time. And so again to make assumptions, that that is you know, there's no need to sort of talk to more people. They're talking to people all the time.

But based on what I was saying before, our sales folks are talking to customers in a user research context, and I think that it's been really invaluable to to step outside of that sales role, and to focus more on the listening aspect, and to bring that to their practice of selling and to the team, because everyone who talks to a user in a different way than what they do day-to-day, I think gets a lot out of it.

So I think that's something we would love to do more ourselves, and to see more teams doing for sure.
John-Henry Forster: I think it depends a little too, right, on — at least in my experience, I was literally on a sales call yesterday with a SaaS company that we're thinking about using. And the first, you know, 10 or 15 minutes of that felt a lot like a discovery exercise where they were asking me a ton of questions about our organization, and kind of fishing for what type of, you know, what features in their product might be relevant to us, and how to structure the rest of the conversation.

Obviously, that's not the same as, you know, a true discovery call that  a product person or a UX researcher might conduct, but it has shades of it. And so if you're in a stage of your growth, where you know your customer landscape pretty well, and you can kind of bucket people into a couple different buckets, you are going to do some of those discovery-type generalized understanding things in good sales calls to understand which kind of persona you're dealing with, right?

Whereas if you're much earlier stage, and you don't know yet your target customers or enough about them, then maybe there's more importance on sales doing some of the true true discovery-type calls. So it might just kind of vary where you're at as a company.

Erin May: I will say the other thing that we do see sales teams doing a lot, as we talked about a little bit before, is kind of getting that insight from user interviews from other teams, versus doing it themselves. But one thing we heard over and over and over again from folks who are trying to kind of sell and share the value of user research across their entire organization is that there is nothing like being involved firsthand.

So the closer you can get to the process the better, whether that's, like JH was saying before, kind of being brought in at the beginning of the product development process, here's what we're trying to do, whether that's listening in on the call as it's happening, taking notes, conducting the user interview. There are all sorts of ways to get more involved than sort of passively hearing the curated insights at the end of a session, which is a pretty different thing.

So I think that's another way that sales teams can get more involved in getting closer to these users in this other context as well. 

Geordie Kaytes: Have you seen the sales process itself taking insights from these interviews and being used to actually improve the way that they sell, as opposed to, "Okay. Well, I'm having a nice conversation with you. I'm understanding a lot more about you. So that's going to help me sell to you." Is there any way to use that insight and information so I can improve the way that I sell to everyone?

John-Henry Forster: This is a little bit of a stretch example, but Erin and I talked about this earlier in the week. I was looking on the Casper website and they have a lot of different products, and one of which is a pillow which like, you know, doesn't seem that exciting. But they have this video on there that's like two minutes long, and it really just celebrates how much research they did about what makes the best pillow, and all the different things they explored, and how many people they talked to, and this and that, and back sleepers and side sleepers, and by the end of it, you're just like, holy shit, these people know a lot about pillows. This is probably a good pillow.

And what we were talking about was, there's kind of a world where you can imagine user research fueling sales collateral of, "This is how well we understand the problem. We talked to this many people. These are the types of things we know that you're likely to be encountering." And I don't know how you package that up, exactly, but it seems like that's an area where there could be  real strength.

To Erin's point, you want to be close to it, so you have a first-hand knowledge of it. But once it's done, if you can go through and pull out the highlights and package them together in a compelling way, that feels like it would be something that would be a real asset for a salesperson when they're talking to somebody, to give them the trust and confidence that your solution is very dialed in to their needs.

Geordie Kaytes: Yeah, I've... We've actually just been talking about that a little bit at our firm. Just the fact that we just had a project where we did a ton of user research, and coming out of it, the client took all that user research and has now has three months worth of content marketing, because they're basically packaging up all these interesting insights about that market and are just going to be talking about them from a thought leadership perspective and sharing them out.

Because they actually see this as a way of demonstrating that they're listening to the market, that they're going out there and they're discovering things that maybe other users or other customers in the market didn't necessarily know about each other, but it definitely positions them in a really nice place from a thought leadership perspective.
But you know, to your point, I think it's, there's some cool opportunity there as well to think about that as a way of producing sales collateral directly out of the user interview process. So that's pretty cool. 

Erin May: Yeah, one of... I think one of the ways that research can be most valuable for both sales and marketing teams is to impact messaging and positioning. And so I was talking to our client Quintin Carlson, who is the design director at Hologram. They're the cool company that's focused on cellular everywhere across smart devices — I don't know are we still saying IoT? Those things with internet in them that are everywhere now — that's what they do.
And they... He likes to sit in on sales calls, sales demos, so going that way. And one thing he picked up on was that a different term was being used to describe one of their technologies. So he was saying "automatic carrier switching" to talk about how the SIM card roams automatically across networks, versus "seamless network coverage,"  which they were using on their website.

And it just clicked with people in the demo, and it was like this lightbulb of, "let's use that instead and see what happens." And those things seem really simple, but you know, I'll be the English major here, words really matter. And so those light bulbs can be huge, and it can go both ways.

So I think, you know obviously sales, the demos they're talking and it's going back to the product side, but it can go both ways. And they also talked about how they like to use user interviews to find people  like their target customer, and to do more discovery research that's really focused on understanding the market and the positioning, and then they can bring that back to all teams, to sales teams, product teams, to design teams.

Geordie Kaytes: So getting that language right and talking to your customers in the way that they're expecting to hear, it that can come directly out of the user interview process just by...

Erin May: That's right. It's the best kind of plagiarism.

John-Henry Forster: Yeah, you don't want to sound like a narc.

Geordie Kaytes: (Laughing) Yeah exactly.

John-Henry Forster: Another way to get like quick light bulb type moments, the small things that Erin mentioned, that I think is underutilized is, you can do user research with your teammates.

You can sit down and you could do conversations with your sales team and understand what's difficult about their day, or what do they hear a lot, or dig around, and you probably sometimes find super small things like, "Oh it's annoying like whenever I'm about to hop on a call, I can't easily see like what features my user has used recently and it'd be super helpful to go into that with that context." And in some cases the PM will be like, "Oh we can make you report for that  like 20 minutes, you just go here and put in their email."

You can do stuff like that to find little key things that probably can be pretty powerful in the process when you compound those all together.

Geordie Kaytes: So that's more of sales ops, sales enablement internal research that your user interviewing team can go in and do within a company. So you're not even talking to your customers, you're talking to your internal team and understanding how their sales process could be improved by maybe little tweaks in the way that things happen?

John-Henry Forster: Yeah, I just think  it's underappreciated, the different skill sets that people have in different teams. And it might not even occur to a sales person to ask for something, because they might assume it's really hard or difficult, and then when a product person or somebody else hears that problem and they're like, "Oh man like we could fix with this view super quickly." And unearthing those things is valuable in and of itself, to your point, from a sales ops or just general operational efficiency.

Geordie Kaytes: I think that speaks to a bigger interesting challenge that I see a lot between the product team and the sales team, is that each side kind of takes the other's responsibilities  as a given, which obviously you kind of have to, to do anything interesting.

Like to design a product, you can't be just saying, "Well, let's assume that the sales is going to sell a completely differently." Or, to design a great sales process, you can't say, "Oh, well, let's assume the product is going to be totally different." But if those two can actually feed back into each other and say, "Well, yeah, maybe we can make the sales process a lot better if we change this tiny part of our product," and not just hold each side of the equation constant when you're standing from your own perspective.

Does that come more naturally to people on the product side? Because they're more used to iteration and more used to making small changes and doing research-driven updates in a tight cycled way, or do you see both sales and product able to naturally adapt to that kind of process?

John-Henry Forster: That's a great question. The reason I'm hesitating is, I think some of it has to do with how requests are framed in an organization. So if you're starting with like, "I just want to understand your role and how you work," and you're asking questions and then something really valuable comes out of that, that's a little different than somebody coming inbound to you with a "Can you do X for me?" Which people tend to be a react a little differently to.
And so I don't know who, you know, which side of the equation that might come more naturally to. But I think just that's the value of starting with an open mind: "Hey, I want to learn more about your job and your day like let's talk through it," versus, "Here's a list of things I want. Can you get them done for me?" You know, sometimes it doesn't get the best reaction.

Geordie Kaytes: Yep. Yeah that's kind of the same as when the customers come to you with a list of demands, and what they're actually saying is, these are the sorts of things that we want done, but a good design team won't just take that literally, implement absolutely everything.

They'll try to understand where this is coming from, so you can actually go and say all right, well, this is a great start to our user research, but we're not going to... You've told me you want a button here that does this, we're going to take that as an input, not as literally, if you don't put a button there that does this, we're not going to buy your product anymore.

Erin May: Yeah, but customers can be forgiven for that, right? It's sort of their imperative to be demanding, and to ask for whatever they want. Even if they don't know what they want. I feel like internally, this is a real problem that we should try to to fix when we're communicating and working with other teams. Talking about problems and opportunities in context versus "do this thing for me," you know, you don't get good solutions that way.

Geordie Kaytes: Right, yeah, well, I don't even know if sales people tend to necessarily even think of asking product to make changes as you said, I think that salespeople are a lot more used to blaming marketing than they are blaming product, right? Or they'll say, "product sucks, we can't sell this," but they won't say, "What if we could have this small change that would allow us to skip this huge step in the sales process?" Because that's just not necessarily the type of thing that they're used to doing. They're thinking much more in, okay, well given that the product is the product, how do I approach selling?

Erin May: Right. Well, we had a great system at a Appboy where I worked before, formerly Appboy, currently Braze, had a weekly session of sales, marketing, and product all sitting together. "What are we hearing this week?" Very lightweight, fill out a Google form.

Ahead of the meeting, the person running the meeting would look through the responses, and we would kind of talk through what's going on. And so to your point, it wasn't so much people are asking for this, build this, but it was very much bringing the voice of the customer from Sales, from Success, to Product on a regular basis, and that felt like a very powerful way to again focus on what I think is the right thing, which is what is the customer context, where is the pain, versus what should we build.

Geordie Kaytes: And how do you set those kinds of — that sounds great, that sounds kind of like the the Utopia right? Everyone's talking to each other — how do you set those up? How do you manage that? How do you get everyone in the same room? Is it just you need strong leadership? Is there some sort of way that you can pitch that to make it seem really interesting to everyone involved?

Erin May: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of that came down to the product vision at that company, which was that we want to hear from sales and success. We don't want to be a, you know, sort of insulated product team that doesn't listen to that stuff.

And then practically, it's getting it on the calendar. I'm such a believer in that, you know, someone needs to own the agenda and champion it happening at all, and make it an effective use of time. But it's really: get it on the calendar, make it a good use of time, and then it becomes an internalized part of the culture.

Geordie Kaytes: Yeah, I think I've seen unsuccessful meetings like that go: the meeting is so product can tell sales what the latest features are, and sales has to sit there and listen.

Erin May: Right. And again, I think you know — and that's that's part of those meetings too, its important sales understands what product is building obviously — but I think if you can connect what is product building, because of why, because of this, then sales can then sell that story of why this is valuable.

Geordie Kaytes: Right, and why and how it was discovered through maybe talking with customers. So that customers can say oh, well, you guys aren't just sitting in a room, inventing problems. You've seen this in other people. Maybe you can help us understand if that's the problem that we are experiencing in our organization.

Yeah that I think that's an interesting point as well. Just the fact that I think a lot of people — I often hear, "Oh, well, you know sales is less of a role now, because customers can come to you so much more informed by doing the research and looking online." But sometimes they have a really shallow and maybe incomplete understanding of the nature of the problem they're even trying to solve in the first place, even though they think that they've done the research, and think that they've come to you where they just want to have a few of their question answered before they jump into a solution. But it's really hard to actually see whether they truly understand the problem or not.

And so it's still sales' job, to come into those conversations with a really fundamentally deep understanding of the way that other customers, and other people in their industry, or other people who might match their customer segments, even what their problems were, and how they solve them. As opposed to, oh, well this person is missing a widget in their flow, let's just add a widget right? It's rarely that simple. 

Erin May: Yeah.

John-Henry Forster: Can I ask you a question?

Geordie Kaytes: Sure, turn it around.

John-Henry Forster: Yeah. So the thing that I've heard most when I think of sales and user research, and we hear this all the time from people who work at B2B companies, especially enterprise-type sales, is that sales owns the relationship with the customers, and user researchers or product people feel like they don't have access to those customers.

And I totally get it, right, if I was a salesperson who is making my money off of my quota, and I own this relationship and things are good. There is like a "Don't rock the boat, don't fix what ain't broke" thing, and the level of trust required to let somebody go in and talk to that person and ask them a bunch of questions is pretty high.
Have you seen organizations figure that piece of the dynamic out?

Geordie Kaytes: Yes, because we reframed it a little bit. I think there was a case where we had a... Sales completely rejecting our request to talk to users because they basically, in so many words, said we don't want to come off like we need to ask our users anything because we are supposed to be the experts.

So if we ask questions to our users, it's coming off like we don't know we're talking about. And we're like, well that's ridiculous, but okay, let's let's go from there. And what we essentially did was: "Okay. Well what we're actually going to produce for you out of this process is a set of future-facing ideas for the product itself that you're going to be able to bring the customers and show them and get them excited."

So if they see... In this case if they saw the user research process being the first step towards the creation of something that was going to give them the tools that they needed to sell better, that was basically what we needed to do in order to get them to give us access to their customers.

Because it wasn't just "Oh, well, you're just going to go talk to people and makes it look like idiots because you know, you're asking questions that we're supposed to know the answers to." It's more, "Okay, well you're going to go and this is a necessary step to the process of you coming back to us with a really cool future vision of the product that we're going to be able to go take out in the field and close lot more deals."

So giving them a little bit, throwing them a bone, was the the way that we solved it in that case. But yeah, I think that is definitely a challenge of... I don't know if there's there's other ways that you've encountered it of, not just making us look like idiots, but you know, are you going to say something dumb? Are you going to swear, or you know show up in the webcam without your shirt on, like anything like that. Have you guys seen why else do people not want to let their customer researchers talk to customers, beyond just they didn't want to ask questions?

Erin May: Swear, yes. Shirt, yes. (Laughing) I think it goes both ways too. Like, I don't know, are our researchers and product folks comfortable letting sales do user research calls? I think a lot of it comes down to trust.

Geordie Kaytes: Yeah, I would probably, from from the perspective of product design, I would probably be a little nervous about putting a sales person on the phone with one of the the people who I'm using to give me really good feedback on the product that I'm designing.

I'd be like, oh god you're gonna break this relationship by being pushy, or you're gonna do something that makes me look bad. So I you can totally see it both ways.

John-Henry Forster: Yeah, I like your framing though, of in addition to "here's how we're going to create more value," it's also, "here's how we're going to stay ahead of the competition."

And there's I think there's some stuff there that resonates with what they're interested in, more than, "Hey, we just want to go learn for the sake of learning." So there's probably a better way to tie it to the purpose of that learning.

Geordie Kaytes: Right, right, and I guess that kind of just comes back down to the attitude, or creating an attitude of constant learning in the sales organization, and not having it be, "Okay, well, here's your playbook. I need you to execute on it." And the best thing that you could hope for in that circumstance is the individual sales people get better, right?

But that's not actually what's best for the organization. What's best for the organization is the sales org gets better by feeding their insights back into the playbook, back into an iterative model that we were learning as a group, and updating the way that we are selling, where product does that naturally because if you don't do that, you don't have a product, right? We get that's literally their only job is to evolve the product, but sales already has a job. They've got to sell this thing, and adding this concept of oh, well, not only do you have to sell, you have to think of your sales process as a product and design it and improve it over time as well. I think that's tough, because it's adding another job to their already busy schedule.

What is Design the Sale?

Success in complex B2B sales isn't an accident — it's by design. In this show, you'll hear from leaders in sales, marketing, design, and technology about the latest tools, methods, and ideas behind winning sales processes.