Welcome to the Secret Sauce, a series by the Crystal team where we have deep-dive conversations with fast-rising sales leaders to learn about the most unique, potent ingredient to their success.
Tim Stansky is an experienced sales trainer at Oracle, whose famously high-performing sales organization has spawned some of the most successful founders, executives, and companies in Silicon Valley. On an individual level, Tim has been a strong supporter of Crystal for years, which is how we have gotten to know him, and perhaps why he was open to sharing some of his “secret sauce” with us.
Throughout his tenure, Tim has trained thousands of aspiring salespeople at Oracle across the U.S., Canada, and in Tokyo. His goal when training reps is to “sharpen their edge” and provoke them to rethink their current sales approaches and biases, equipping them with knowledge and confidence to apply new methods and act upon them.
Tim’s mantra is “interrupt with value.” He says this idea is his own synthesis of The Challenger Sales Model and New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development by Mike Weinberg. Salespeople must learn to interrupt with value in a way that directly speaks to the customer’s problems– either by pointing to the fire that is burning right in front of them or alerting them of the dry tinder that might catch at any moment. Instead, too many sales reps jump straight into their pitch without understanding or showing empathy for the problems their prospects are trying to solve.
“Sales reps often prescribe solutions before they understand the symptoms, or what the patient wants, usually because of external pressures..”
Reps at large companies are especially susceptible to this line of thinking since they can often fall back on brand recognition to build rapport and credibility. The same is true for reps in hyper-growth industries or those in extremely niche markets where options are limited. High customer demand may temporarily cover up a weak sales motion in these scenarios.
Most reps, however, cannot rely on such advantages and must learn to interrupt with value, mastering multiple skills–storytelling, active listening, critical thinking, etc. Tim has witnessed countless sophomore salespeople emerge as seasoned seniors in their organization with this assertive approach to meaningful, provocative, productive communication.
“In sales, we must interrupt with value. We get paid to interrupt somebody’s day. We need to do so quickly and with value.”
Here’s a metaphor Tim shared with us:
Let’s say your customer is walking down the sidewalk near a construction site, and you (as the sales rep) own this part of the sidewalk and know what problems are here and how to solve them. People may encounter this problem at different times, and you can be the guide to warn them, “at some point, you’re going to walk through this construction zone, and you’re going to need a hard hat. We have good hard hats– there are other hard hats– but let me tell you about our hard hats. The most important thing is, you need a hard hat.”
Here, you are delivering value by approaching them with a solution for a problem that they are inevitably going to face and doing so quickly.
Interruption is usually considered rude, aggressive, or off-putting. But we all know that we would be thankful if someone interrupted us to tell us that we won a new car or to stop us from stepping on a wasp’s nest.
If you’re a salesperson and you genuinely believe in your product’s ability to solve a problem for your customer, it is your job to interrupt as many prospects as you can to make their lives a little better, help their businesses run a little more efficiently, or to get them a little bit closer to their goals.