David asks Blair about using "after action reviews" following sales calls, and the two key questions that should be asked as a part of that debriefing process.
DAVID C. BAKER: Blair, today we are going to talk about debriefing after a new business call. Not after just a business call, but a new business call, right? So how did this topic come to your mind? What got you thinking about this?
BLAIR ENNS: I'm a fan of Ron Baker and Ed Kless' podcast, The Soul of Enterprise. They had a podcast way back when and they made the comment that they see the after action review as the most powerful ... I'm gonna get this wrong, but is the most powerful knowledge tool ever invented.
BLAIR: That's a big statement. But we were using after action reviews in our business. And we still use them. There's various forms of them. Their origin actually came out of the US Military in the Vietnam War as a way of looking at campaigns. It's a way of essentially reviewing what happened without being critical of any individual and keeping the whole thing positive so that you can figure out what you would do next time. In fact, an after action review is really just okay what was the goal of the thing that we did, whatever the thing we did is, what went well, and then what would we do differently next time? And then there's some protocols around who speaks first and who speaks last, and how a rank is supposed to be unimportant. But I'm listening to their podcast, I realize, oh, yeah we do this all the time in our business. And it is really valuable. And I'd never thought of it as maybe the most valuable knowledge tool ever. But it occurred to me that I've never really advocated for after action reviews in sales. But I think it's probably a pretty good idea especially if you or employee who's on the front lines doing sales or doing new business development, if they're new or they've just come out of some training. Or you're stuck and things aren't going your way.
BLAIR: But it's probably a good idea to review all of the key opportunities. The ones that you win and the ones that you lose. But even in the early days, I think just a new business meeting like a phone call. A kind of a lengthier phone call. Something lengthier than no we're not interested, thanks, goodbye. Or a face to face meeting I think is probably a really good idea to review. Let's just review what happened, and decide what went well, and decide what we would do differently next time.
DAVID: So just a couple of housekeeping things here, if it's a meeting where you and somebody that works with you and you're gonna do the review, how soon do you do this? Is it important to do it right away after the meeting ends? Even before you get back to the office? I've got several housekeeping questions, but that's the first one.
BLAIR: Generally speaking, the sooner the better. We were recording this on a Friday at the end of the week, we had two after action reviews this week of bigger things that happened. One was quite big. The sales period that just passed. That's about two months long. So what happened there. And another one's kind of a smaller thing that we're working on that's quite detailed. And sometimes it makes sense for a little bit of time to go by so that you can process what actually happened.
BLAIR: But I think in the early days, if this is new for you, then the sooner the better. And then the times when you are allowing a little bit of processing time or gestation time, you know enough to make notes as things occur to you. Because the danger is if you leave it too long, you're going to forget a lot of the valuable points. Or you're going to forget the specifics of what happened or how you felt in certain situations. And those can be really valuable.
DAVID: It seems like if it's you and let's say you're training somebody that's newer to your firm, sometimes it might make sense to have that person give their perspective before you give yours so that you get some independence, I would guess too. So that's interesting. And I could see this happening then after a meeting that both of you attended or maybe after a phone call where you're on speakerphone. How do you handle it when you're not on speakerphone? I presume half of the states in the US allow you to record a call without the other person's consent. But I presume you're not necessarily recording the calls. How do you handle that? How do you get feedback from somebody else if they weren't actually on the call?
BLAIR: Yeah. Let me just speak to that issue of kind of rank or who goes first that you touched on. Coming out of the US Military, the idea is when they walk into an after action review, everybody basically takes a hat off and puts their insignias face down on the table. So the idea is that rank goes away. And I think a further idea is that you generally encourage the lower rank people to speak first. So the last thing I know when we're doing an after action review, I make sure that I'm not the first one to contribute. I don't want people saying, "Yeah, I agree with what you said." You really want to hear what others have to say. So that's kind of the housekeeping point.
BLAIR: And then your question around-
BLAIR: Recording. In some ways, we don't actually do this in our training program. We think about it and talk about it quite a bit. The idea of we should have our clients record some of these calls and bring them to class or to interact with their coach to get some feedback on that. And I haven't closed the door on it, but there is something that I find a little bit troubling about recording a phone call when the other party doesn't know it's happening. But I don't think it's necessary to record it. To me, there's really two key review questions that you want to think about in your after action review or debriefing meeting when you're debriefing on a new business interaction.
BLAIR: And the first one is what assumptions did I make in the sale? We can break that down into different categories where you would ask that question. And then the second one would simply, where did I feel uncomfortable?
DAVID: Ah, so keeping it very simple there, right?
DAVID: Because that's gonna surface some things for you to talk about.
DAVID: You mentioned that you use a checklist for this. I find checklists really interesting. Have you read the book A Checklist Manifesto, by the way?
BLAIR: No, I've heard of it. Haven't read it though.
DAVID: Ah, it's a really interesting ... So pilots use checklists just to make sure they don't do something stupid like GUMPS. Gas, undercarriage, mixture, pump, seat belt. So you don't land without the-
BLAIR: Forrest Gumps?
DAVID: No, it's spelled differently.
BLAIR: I would be thinking GUMPS, Forrest Gumps. That was a pretty good movie. Why was he jogging ... Crash.
DAVID: And then you'd land on your belly of the plane because you didn't put the gear down.
DAVID: So you have a checklist of four things and it's NATB. So let's break that down. Need, authority, time frame, budget. Let's go down one by one.
DAVID: So there's two questions. What assumptions did I make during the call and then where did I feel uncomfortable? So under the first question, what assumptions did I make? There's four things. The first one is need. So talk about that.
BLAIR: Yeah. And so the first assumption we're making here is this is what I would call a qualifying call. So a qualifying call or a qualifying conversation is when where you are assessing the lead. A lead is a clue to a possible sale. So you've got a lead represented by an individual. You're getting that person on the phone or you're having a face to face conversation. And then you're vetting that lead to determine if the opportunity exists. Some sales people just work through that conversation subjectively. They feel their way through it. But it's really good to have a framework. And the most common framework is as you call it, NATB. Or sometimes referred to as BANT. We don't use either of those acronyms. But they're helpful here. So it's need, authority or decision makers, time frame, and budget.
BLAIR: So assuming we're in a qualifying conversation, that's the framework we're using. So the first thing we're doing is we're essentially uncovering need. And the question is what assumptions did you make around need? And the first big mistake around need is the client says we need a new website. And then you just take that. Okay, new website. And you move onto authority or decision makers to talk about who are the decision makers, what's the decision making process.
DAVID: So what should they do differently rather than just the website? You're suggesting they dig deeper than just the website when they're uncovering that need?
BLAIR: Yeah. So there's an understanding in sales that the first stated need that you get from the client is usually some sort of tactical need or at the very least, it's what I would call self-diagnosed. So I understand my problem, I understand the solution that I need, and here's the solution that I need. But you as the practitioner, you need to understand for yourself. And you need to validate the client's self-diagnosis. And you might not fully validate in the sale. You might have to sell a diagnostic. So you might have to do some further validation in the engagement. But in the sale, you do have some obligation to do some initial assessment. So beyond just taking the client's word for it, yeah, we need a website, there's a school of thought. It's called the Five Why's School of Thought that says you ask five why's. Okay, well, why do you need a new website?
BLAIR: We need a new website because online sales are dropping. Well, why are online sales dropping? And then you kind of continue to peel the onion in this five why's way. One day I woke up and I realized it's one of these things that just repeated a lot. This idea of five why's, I heard it before and I thought it made a lot of sense. And I woke up and I realized, man, if you have to ask five why's, your first question is a pretty shitty one.
DAVID: I love that. So the idea is you're getting to the most powerful underlying need. The one that they're gonna be willing to pay you the most money to fix, right? Because if they land on the tactical, that's part of how they're framing this relationship with you is that maybe they want to pay you as a tactician rather than as a strategist.
BLAIR: Yeah, I mean, I'll ask my clients, how often have you been hired? Clients said, "We need X," you said, "Okay." You were hired to do X, you started delivering on X, and you realized, "Oh my god, they don't need X, they need Y." And everybody nods knowingly. It happens all the time, doesn't it? And that's because you made assumptions in that qualifying conversation around the topic of need. And essentially you took the client at face value for is this what they really needed? And you didn't either peel the onion or come at it another way. And I don't want to go too deep down that rabbit hole, but you can look at need as expressed tactical need and then you can get to the underlying business need. And the underlying business need is we're no longer relevant. Clients are buying from somebody else.
DAVID: That's much deeper, yeah.
BLAIR: Right? So that's a deeper need than ... Well, you don't need a new website, you might need to be repositioned. You might need to rethink what business you're in. You might need to launch new product offerings, et cetera. You might need to think of new service lines. Whatever it is. And then there's ... We can talk about needs versus wants. And maybe that's a subject of another webcast because you've got the corporate needs that the person might be expressing. But really, if you want to win the sale, you're gonna have a significant advantage if you can get to what it is that that personal individual human being wants.
BLAIR: Again, that's a deeper topic. But the question is what assumptions did it make under the area of need?
DAVID: Right. And that's the first one.
BLAIR: Yeah. So it's great if you have somebody asking these questions of you. Okay, what assumptions did we make around the area of need? What did the client need? Could that have been misinterpreted? Is it possible that they need something else? Did you explore? Did you ask five why's? Did you get to the individual wants? Et cetera. So that's the first one.
DAVID: Okay. The second one is around authority or decision makers. And I'll tell you, this one perplexes me because if I could do this like on the forms of my website for instance, I would say are you a decision maker or you aren't? And the problem I have is that people won't be honest about that because they can't tell me that they're not a decision maker because they want to be a decision maker even though they know they aren't, right? You can't say, "Are you a decision maker? Are you a loser? Check the box." Nobody's filling out my form. This explains it. So how do you get to authority? I'm really interested in how you probe around this to surface the right answer.
BLAIR: Yeah. So this is the most common area where people make the most assumptions and they're most likely to be tripped up later on in the sale because they made an assumption about decision makers and decision making process. And the problem as you pointed out is people are not immediately forthcoming about authority that they do not have. So if you were to ask the closed ended question, are you the decision maker on this project? Is it your responsibility to hire a firm like ours? You're almost always going to get, yes.
DAVID: Yeah, of course. Right. Why else would I be talking to you?
BLAIR: So a great opening question would be, in addition to yourself, who else needs to be involved in this process to hire a firm like ours? Right? So open with that question. And then you want to rely on your kind of hunch and start probing in specific areas. So you might say if you think this person's needs to be involved you would say, "Does your boss, the CEO, does she need to be involved in the decision?" And you might hear, no, no, no, no.
DAVID: I just tell them, after I make the decision, I'll disinform them.
BLAIR: Yeah. And then so a great follow up question to that would be does anybody need to approve your decision once you've made it?
DAVID: That's a nonsense question, right? On the face of it.
BLAIR: But it's a fantastic question. Does anybody need to approve your decision once you've made it? Yeah. The CEO needs ... It's a rubber stamp. Okay, the CEO is the decision maker. And you'll find, especially with new salespeople, if you're the coach and you're facilitating this after action review, you're going to find that repeatedly, the big assumptions are made here. And later on, they'll be the expensive ones.
DAVID: Okay. So first one is need. Second one is authority or decision making. The third is time frame. This one stumps me a little because I don't even know why it's important. Why do we even ask time frame questions? Why is this even on here? I get the previous one. I don't get this one.
BLAIR: There's really two different reasons we ask time frame questions. And I think most people are oblivious to the most powerful reason. And the most powerful reason is time frame is the surrogate for intent. And the obvious reason is we want to know when they want to get this done. So can we start planning resources, et cetera. So when would we need to start, et cetera. So you start thinking about how and when would we tackle the job. But really, the primary importance of your time frame question is you want to discern through your time frame questions. Whether this is on the wish list or the to do list. And my favorite time frame question is just that. Which has nothing to do with time frame. It's all about intent. You're trying to discern whether or not somebody's just kicking ideas around, they're still contemplating, or they've decided no, we're going to do this project and we're going to hire a firm like yours to help us.
BLAIR: The usual time frame questions are when do you need to get started? When do you need to have a solution in the marketplace? Looking forward, is there a milestone or an event that you need to hit? Do you need to be in the marketplace or have this change or this project launched by a certain date? Et cetera. And if you don't get the answers you're looking for ... And what you're really looking for is somebody who's anchored their change in behavior to a future date.
BLAIR: This might get a little bit deep here, but a great way to think about selling is change management. So a great model for how people buy is how people change. So you can take any model of change management and you can just study that and become a better salesperson. And when you look at how people change, when they make a decision, I'm going to lose weight, or quit smoking, or divorce my spouse, or propose to my girlfriend. What they do is as soon as they make the decision, they look forward in time and then they anchor their change in behavior to a date. You could quit smoking on November 3rd-
DAVID: And ask your girlfriend to marry you the same day.
BLAIR: Yeah. But when it comes to quitting smoking, or losing weight, or something, you wait until the clean slate of a new ... You wait for January 1st. That's why people make New Year's resolutions. And that's just a sign of somebody who's formed intent. Because they've basically thought, I'm going to do this. They have looked at the calendar. And they've anchored a change in behavior, or the outcome they're looking for to a specific date. That is a sign of intent. That is a late stage opportunity that you should now begin to prepare for to go into closing mode.
DAVID: Using this in my own experience, it's resonating some in a new way. I just hired an expert to help me with something. And I was very transparent with them about the timing and the money, which I guess we're gonna talk about next as the fourth one here. Fourth assumption. But when I'm buying something besides expertise. When I'm buying a car or recently I signed up at the airstream traders website. And there's a question in there how soon are you going to buy, right? If I want somebody to treat this seriously, I'll say this week. If I don't want them to bother me, I'll say I'm just curious. But when it comes to hiring an expert, I am very transparent about this. And I'm assuming that that's the case in the scenario that you're describing that if it's a real opportunity for this firm to be hired as an expert, if they ask the right questions, they're going to get the right answers. There may need to be a little bit of probing, but they want to be careful about that.
BLAIR: There's an answer to your time frame question that we make assumptions around all the time. And this is something that would need to be probed in your after action review. If I'm the salesperson and I said, "When do you need to get this done?" And the answer is ASAP, right away, you can't proceed on that basis. You need to ask the why question. Okay, why right away? Well, because it's something I've wanted to do for a while. Okay, well, when's right away? Well, next 30 days. What if we don't get it in the next 30 days? Well, 60's fine. I'd prefer 30. This is getting into this murky area here where I start to get suspicious because I think this might be a chronic contemplator.
BLAIR: It's great that you have somebody who has some urgency, but you want to look for the reason why there's some urgency. So was there a triggering event in the past? But really, you want somebody who's looked forward into the date and said, "Okay, we're gonna start on this date or we need to be in the marketplace by this date and here are the more valid reasons why." A great one would be we've got a board meeting or a trade show. Those are rock solid events.
DAVID: Drop dead dates. If we miss it we're-
BLAIR: Yeah. And then you know there's intent around that. So this idea of ASAP, that's the same as never. So if you get ASAP, you need to unpack that, you need to explore it, you can't just assume that ASAP means there's actually intent.
DAVID: You know what I love about this is that you're not focusing here on what you say. You're focusing really on the questions you ask so that you can elicit the right information. And as you're going through this debrief, you may pause and say, "You know what? At that point, this is the question you ask. This is the question you could've asked and it might have sorted this out from a real opportunity and not a real opportunity." So it's more about asking questions. That's such an interesting thing to think about. Right? See, I'm asking a question right now.
BLAIR: Yeah. I agree. When I think back to my consulting days and how many times I had the ... I'd get a phone call from a client and then I draw this little grid in my call log and start asking questions. Okay, what was the need? Who are the decision makers? I go through all this and just debrief with them. And then your spidey sense, you're not getting all the information. And you're not emotionally involved. But it's amazing what you can pick up. The assumptions just kind of jump out at you. And then the second area we're gonna talk about after budget of where you feel uncomfortable, that's probably even more important.
DAVID: Yeah. Okay, so what assumptions did I make? First one was need, the second was authority around decision making, the third, which we just talked about is time frame> and the fourth, the final one of these four, is budget. Let's talk about that and why everyone get's tripped up here. I get a lot of questions from my clients around this and I never really know what to say because I don't do sales training like you do. So why do we get tripped up on budget?
BLAIR: Well, first of all, it's the topic of money. And there's a certain amount of stress around the topic of money, as we've talked about before, or the avoiding talking about money. And then there's the negotiating that happens. And clients kinda negotiate on the other stuff too. They won't give you all of the information but it's really on budget where the negotiating starts. I was taught that the first budget question is are funds allocated? Yes or no? I'm not asking for the budget. Have you allocated funds for this project, yes or no?
DAVID: Because theoretically, it's easier for them to answer than what's the budget, right?
BLAIR: Yeah. And just like the time frame question is about is this person interested or have they formed intent? And then the budget question takes somebody who has formed intent. Because if they're just interested, they almost certainly have not allocated funds. It's not universal, but it almost certainly have not allocated funds. But if somebody has intent, I've decided I'm going to do this, they anchored their change in behavior to an event in the future, the very next thing they do is they start applying resources to their situation. And that's usually in the form of people and budgets.
BLAIR: So if somebody says, "Yeah, we need to do it by this event and I have allocated funds," this is a late stage opportunity that's eminently closable. Now it's closable if there's intent but funds haven't been allocated. And where some salespeople mess up is if you ask the question are funds allocated and the client responds with, "No, we don't know what to spend on this. You're the expert. We're hoping you could tell us." I wish I had a dollar for everybody who told me they were frustrated by that. Oh, they're trying to negotiate with me, oh. They shouldn't view it that way. It's a great opportunity. All it really means is yeah they've progressed this far. They formed intent, but they haven't taken the very next step, which is to allocate funds. And they're asking for your help in allocating funds. Why would you be frustrated by that? They're frustrated by it because you want the client to tell you what the budget is.
DAVID: So that's not a problem?
BLAIR: No, it's not a problem at all. I would actually prefer to be in a situation where there is intent and funds are not allocated. But when funds are allocated, the assumption is that they're not enough funds. You want to sell a solution that costs more. When funds are allocated, that's a sign that these people are ready to go. This is eminently closable.
DAVID: Yeah. If funds are allocated, there is a budget, even if they won't tell you what it is. Is that a safe assumption?
BLAIR: Yeah, okay. So let's say I'm playing the salesperson. Are funds allocated? Yeah. Yeah. We have allocated funds. Okay, great. Do you mind telling me how much? I'd rather not share that with you. As somebody who loves to role play stuff, I would just love being cheeky. Okay, I'm sorry. We're having a conversation. But you hiring us to potentially help you achieve whatever the benefits are that you uncovered and need. You've allocated funds for this. We're gonna need to work together closely on this if we are in fact the firm that you decide to work with on this. But you won't tell me how much you're going to spend.
DAVID: And that's where there's a long pause, right? And you're gonna see who says something first.
BLAIR: At some point, we're going to have to trust each other. And we're going to have to have a conversation about money, like adults, right?
BLAIR: So my suggestion is we just begin now. Is there any reason why you feel like ... Well, I want to hear what your price is. Okay. Well, I can come in with a price, a range of prices, et cetera. And then you could say that's too high. Here's my guarantee. When it comes to giving you prices, I'll give you a range of options. And some of them will be within your budget. And some of them may exceed your budget. But to give me a reference point, please tell me what you've allocated in the way of funds for this. The idea that somebody's allocated funds and won't tell, it's either you're not gonna win this business because they're just kind of going along and you're the third bid, they're trying to protect an advantage for somebody else, or more likely you're just dealing with a junior level decision maker who needs to be schooled on how real business conversations should be had. There should be no animosity or anything. But I'm fond of kind of just stripping away all the pretense and exposing the ridiculousness of the point that yeah we have a budget, but I'm not gonna tell you what it is. That's just absurd.
DAVID: Yeah. And you're good at that. You're much better at that than I would be because I wouldn't view it as a game. I would view it as sort of wasting my time. I like how you phrase this.
DAVID: Okay. So those are the four assumptions that you need to think about. Let's talk about where you felt uncomfortable. So this is the second big question when you're doing an after action review, to use military phrase. Where did I feel uncomfortable? So talk to me about that. And why are you looking for the ... It's not where did the client feel uncomfortable. It's where you, the salesperson, felt uncomfortable, right?
BLAIR: Yeah. If you only had a few minutes to do a debrief on a call, I would actually start with this, where did you feel uncomfortable?
BLAIR: Usually you're uncomfortable because something isn't being said.
DAVID: Something isn't being said. Like you're not saying it or-
BLAIR: Something isn't being said. Yeah. Oh, okay. There's an elephant in the room and we're not talking about it.
DAVID: Yeah. Which we've done a podcast about, right? The say what you think.
BLAIR: Say what you're thinking, yeah.
DAVID: Yeah, exactly.
BLAIR: So the similar principle is to lean into discomfort and light up the dark places. So if you're feeling uncomfortable, you want to train ... This takes a little bit of practice. But you want to train yourself to go to where you're uncomfortable. You start to suspect that the client maybe isn't going to be able to afford you. So you would say, "Hey, before we get too far ..." You might even say, "I'm not sure how to say this. But I'm a little bit concerned that we typically work with companies who spend between X and Y and I'm just a little concerned about whether or not you guys would be in that bandwidth." So that would be a way to kind of bring up price if you're worried about price. Or you might get a sense that this person is really looking for a vendor type provider where it's really about responsiveness and turn around time and you really feel your business is built around the depth of your expertise and maybe customer service. It's there. It's good enough. But it's not your selling point. And this person might value that more. You might just bring that up.
BLAIR: One of our key principles is you should view yourself as in a race with the client to object. If there's an objection in the room, like the other metaphor is the elephant in the room. But it's a potential objection. It's a reason why you might not do business together. You want to be the person to put that on the table because the dynamics of objections are such that when one person brings it up, it's incumbant on the other person to address it. And it really doesn't matter which person or which party in the sale. Many salespeople were conditioned to just avoid these things that we see as potential objections. Hope they don't come up. And then when they do come up, the client says, "Oh, we should talk about price. Or we should talk about the fact that you've never done this before." Usually late in the sale, you've allocated all these resources, you've got it to the sunk cost bias is kicking in, you're trying to situate everything that you can to save it.
DAVID: And you're on your heels. You're responding defensive. Yeah.
BLAIR: Yeah. Now you're on the defensive. So why not just early on as soon as you sense it ... A great example would be okay, I'm really enthusiastic about this based on what you've said about the project so far. It's a little bit different for us. I can see how our experience translates to this. But I want to be completely above board. You need to know, we've never done this type of work before.
DAVID: Oh, yeah.
BLAIR: And then I just stop and say nothing, right? Just listen to the pause. We've never done this type of work before. And wait for the client to feel that space.
DAVID: Even that second and a half right there when you waited, I felt uncomfortable.
BLAIR: Right? So the client might say, "Oh, well, that's gonna be a deal killer on our end." Well if it is, you want to find out early, right? You don't want to find out when you're standing there with your 50 page PowerPoint presentation and you get to the last page and oh, yeah, one more question. Thanks for flying out here. We have one more question. Have you ever done this before? No, but excuse, excuse, excuse. It's gonna be okay.
DAVID: Yeah. You've wasted all this time. Spent an all nighter.
BLAIR: Yeah. And you build all kinds of credibility by leaning into that objection early. You can preface it by saying, "Really excited about it. We've got work that translates. But you need to know we've never done this before." Then pause. Don't say, "But it's gonna be okay." Let the client voice his or her concerns or say, "Well, it looks like you've done this other stuff. I think it translates. I'm okay with it." So you build credibility. You remove this thing that might kill the deal later on. So this idea of where did you feel uncomfortable. Did you address that discomfort or was it still there after the meeting? Right? And what you want to condition yourself and your people to do is when they start to feel uncomfortable about something, lean into this discomfort. Even if it's the way the client is treating it. They're really treating you like a vendor, you want to lean into that sucker. And we could role play that a little bit.
DAVID: So this points out the fact that it's not just about what you're saying. But it's your listening skills. Your ability to read between the lines to recognize certain tones of voice and so on. And as you were describing all of this, I as thinking about how this isn't just useful for new business settings, but for account service too. You might even want to include them, right? In some of the conversation ... Some of the debriefing conversations because these account people are having these sorts of conversations all the time. More frequently with somebody that does come aboard as a client.
BLAIR: Yeah. That's a really great point. And it makes me think about that in our training program, with every new term that starts and one just started this week, as we're preparing for the term, we're trying to find more and better ways to disseminate the thinking to others in the firm. Because for many years as a consultant, I would advise the salespeople to act a certain way. And then the account people are acting in an entirely different way.
DAVID: Right. Yeah. Working against everything that you've built up from a positioning standpoint, right.
BLAIR: Yeah. And all of these skills that work in new business development or in sales, they're all applicable in many of the aspects of account service. And some account people are more about server responder types. And the more senior people are really about leading the accounts. And those people in particular, those who are in charged with kind of taking the account into the new direction to the benefit of both the client and the firm, all of these principles would apply to them as well.
DAVID: Yeah. Well this has been really, really good. So just finishing up kind of an overview of this again, there's two key review questions you go through. The first is what assumptions did I make? Four that you talk about there. The need, the authority/decision maker element, time frame, and budget. And then the second one is where did I feel uncomfortable? You identify those points and then talk about why you felt uncomfortable and what you might have done to address that issue sooner. This is really interesting, Blair. Thank you very much.
BLAIR: Yeah, my pleasure, David. I enjoyed it.
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Blair is struck by how creative businesses have trouble applying their creativity to their revenue models, so he and David discuss some of the best ways firms can get paid.
David and Blair each share a list of things that they wish agency principals would do more of to take their firms to the next level of success.
Blair and David work on clarifying things by coming up with only six reasons why businesses hire creative firms.
Blair and David share the places they find good ideas that they turn into content, the best of which end up being incorporated into their services.
David finds Blair's thoughts fascinating on how far agencies should service or pursue clients geographically, and whether or not the location of a …
David gives Blair four practical reasons for sales people to hand off new business to the account person before the deal is closed instead of after.
After having discussed positioning in multiple previous episodes, David puts together in this one episode the seven most common mistakes firms make …
Blair asks David to make some predictions about the new year, and then they discuss some ways that businesses can prepare for and react to (God forbid) an economic downturn.
BLAIR ENNS: David, predict the …
Blair describes to David how he was able to distill his Win Without Pitching approach into a simple formula:P=db/D
Power = desirability / Desire
After touching on the topic of risk in many other episodes of this podcast, David and Blair finally take a full episode to discuss at length the role …
Blair gets David to admit that he was kind of wrong about open book management being just a fad when he originally wrote about it almost two decades ago, and David offers ways that it can actually benefit both employees …
Blair and David analyze and then look beyond the requests for reassurance potential clients make during the late stage of a sale to address their underlying motivations.
Blair remembers what it was like when he was an account person himself, and David shares five ways firms can treat their account people better.
Blair offers seven mindsets that any seller of expertise needs to master so that they can behave like the expert in the sales cycle.
Blair gives David some homework to identify patterns in the principals of creative practices who are successful and have that "je ne sais quoi."
Blair interviews David on what each of the three levels of success in running a creative firm looks like.
David re-reads the 2nd chapter of Blair’s first book, leading to a discussion about how sales people have to choose between either presenting to clients or being present to them.
DAVID C. BAKER: Blair, we …
There are seven patterns that almost all principals are guilty of. When David and Blair point them out, it leads their clients to say, “you must have hidden cameras in my office!"
Blair leads a discussion on how clients tend to take mental shortcuts in making business decisions, and how we can nudge clients without …
David and Blair compare each other's competitiveness, and then offer some specific ways principals can actually collaborate with their competitors as …
Blair and David come up with descriptive words that help clarify each of the four parts of what David calls the "pantheon" for new business: positioning, lead generation, sales, and pricing.
David and Blair explore the big topic of personality assessment tools that can help firms “get the right people on the bus.”
Blair and David dive into a discussion on ownership structures, looking at the results of a survey that David did recently about partnerships.
Listeners on Twitter wanted to know what clients actually want from creative firms, so David makes a list based on his experience of what good clients want, while Blair's reaction is "who cares what clients want... all …
David gets Blair to expound on his statement that “the value conversation is where value pricing theory goes to die,” and how crucial that conversation is within the sales framework he lays out in his new book, "Pricing …
David and Blair take a stab at answering the complicated question of what success looks like for each of them personally, as well as what it means for their clients.
Blair and David try to wind each other up by going through a list of phrases they hear from their clients way too often.
David is bothered by the notion of helping people cheat, especially at positioning. So Blair discusses 10 ways firms could succeed even if they …
Expertise, selling, marketing, entrepreneurship, branding, positioning, and consultant. Blair and David do their best to come up with definitions for …
Blair revisits David's new book, "The Business of Expertise: How Entrepreneurial Experts Convert Insight to Impact + Wealth" in front of a live audience in London, who get to ask their own questions.
Blair talks about his new book, "Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour," and the process it took to write it. David gets him …
David and Blair each share some goals that they have for their clients and themselves for the upcoming year, which turns into somewhat of a therapy session.
Blair and David discuss why, when, and how principals sell their firms, and Blair reveals he is skeptical about selling his own firm.
David picks Blair's brain about new business compensation, and what principals need to consider in finding their firm's place on the spectrum between …
Blair has some questions this week and David has answers. The topic is profit - what it is and the targets firms should be setting.
David offers to help Blair remember all the times he's been wrong over the past couple decades. Then Blair says he'll be happy to reveal all of the places he's wrong now but doesn't even know it yet.
David reveals some of the science behind the extensive research he has done over the past couple decades to develop a key part of his Total Business …
Blair revisits David's new book, interviewing him on the two chapters that cover the important topic of positioning: "Distinguishing Between Vertical and Horizontal Expertise," and "Principles for the Less Exchangeable …
David and Blair discuss a list of words Blair came up with that you should avoid to keep you out of trouble and in control of the buy-sell …
Blair needs a vacation. And David is blown away by how little time principals take off.
David asks Blair to describe his work and his passion for the creative entrepreneurial community, and they discuss how where he lives has such a huge impact on what he does.
The issue of how principals manage their employees continues to pop up for David year after year, and Blair is worried that he might have this problem in his own firm.
Blair restrains himself from going off on a rant about who his clients choose to learn from.
Blair interviews David about who he is and why people should pay attention to what he has to say - if they should at all...
David Baker wrote a book! And Blair asks him about his authoring process, publishing, and the book's topic.
David and Blair list good and bad things that can happen when the principal steps away from their creative firm for a period of time, which is based on David's blog post on the matter.
Blair revisits the first piece of thought leadership he ever wrote, taking a look at why firms may or may not do for themselves what they do for their clients.
Blair questions David on an article he wrote about identifying the risks on either side of the road and navigating a path between both extremes.
Blair does his best to reform David's skepticism of sales, discussing what works well and what fails miserably in the sales process.
What keeps you up at night? Blair interviews David about the five most common fears that he has seen in the consulting work he has done with over 900 …
David and Blair discuss how the nature of entrepreneurship is changing and what the new entrepreneur is facing today.
Do you have trouble talking about money with clients? David makes seven common statements about money and Blair states whether they are true or false and why.
David interviews Blair about the art of effectively communicating with clients and coworkers.
David and Blair make a list of the common mistakes that people make in trying to portray themselves as experts.