Don Carli: Lessons from Listening to Your Customers

As believers in process improvement, we know the importance of the Voice of the Customer and the value of reliable data.

In today’s conversation with Don Carli we discuss the difference between Voice of Market and Voice of Customer, and how they apply not just to products, but to engaging prospects before and during the sale.

Tune in to hear …

  • How businesses can listen to customers before they engage with them, and how they use marketing research data to improve the sales process.
  • How voice of market research illuminates unmet needs, pain points, and purchase decision factors to provide better-qualified leads and more predictable sales outcomes.
  • How voice of customer research can help you to focus on high potential prospects, overcome obstacles and objections, and win more decisions in favor of your brand.

Learn about how you can apply these ideas right away to improve your sales performance. Plus, learn about exciting new capabilities that can make research faster and easier to conduct, and far more impactful.

Listen now…

Mentioned in This Episode:

Episode Transcript:

Michael Webb: Hello, this is Michael Webb, and welcome to the Sales Process Excellence podcast. Some people focus on reaching senior level decision makers and account management. Other people focus on data and systems thinking. Today we’re talking to someone who understands applied statistics, and understands sales, and also understands marketing. Sales Process Excellence podcast brings all of those things together, and I’m really pleased to have Don Carli on the phone. He’s one of the few individuals that I have known over the years who has a thorough understanding of all of those things. So, Don, welcome.

Don Carli: Hi, Michael. Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Michael Webb: Super. It would be great if you could go through your background and tell people where you’ve been in your career, and what do you do now?

Don Carli: Wonderful. I founded my consultancy in 1980, actually. Been at it for a while. Over the years, I’ve done primarily strategic insight research analysis and strategy for companies like Xerox, Kodak, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and others, primarily providing insight to strategy teams, heads of business units, and the leads of sales and marketing organizations within Fortune 500 companies. I’ve also done quite a bit of work over the years with branding and positioning work for not only Fortune 500 company brands, but a variety of startup and merges and acquisitions brands that face challenges in communicating their value proposition.

Michael Webb: So I think this is a fascinating subject because to me, a sales guy like me, those issues of the brand, and the brand awareness are kind of like hocus pocus, and yet I know that you and I both agree on the need to use data and evidence in making business decisions, and strategy decisions, and investment decisions in sales and marketing.

So I want to start off with just sort of a basic kind of a question with the commonality that we both agree that we need data evidence for making decisions. What does that imply for the proper relationship between marketing and sales?

Don Carli: Well, in fact, people have often heard the term of the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. Well, there’s actually the fifth P. It’s sales in my world. So they’re really all part of the same thing. I think marketing and sales are really the same in terms of their ultimate goals, but they are measured differently. The performance of marketing is measured often quite differently from the performance of a sales organization.

Michael Webb: Okay, so how so?

Don Carli: Well, let’s take an example. When we’re talking about KPIs for sales, generally it’s how many deals did you close, is what it starts with. In particular, we look at things like lead flow, we look at levels of activity in terms of how many customer or potential customer meetings did you take. We look at what is the win ratio, relative to the number of opportunities that you’ve encountered or been presented with. We look at sales effectiveness in terms of you’ve been given an opportunity. Have you been able to close the sale, deal with obstacles and objections? Generally, sales KPIs tend to be things like total sales volume, margin retained, the length of the contract, and the average contract, the sales cycle length. These are the ways we tend to measure sales, in addition to things like retention rate, and sales cost to sales volume. Right?

Marketing is looked at across a very different set of metrics. So we think about marketing KPIs, the measures are things like market share. Well first, marketing is typically tasked with identifying the size of a market, as well as doing analysis of market segments and the characteristic needs that are unmet or underserved in various market segments. Beyond that, they’re measured in terms of well, what is our market share, both absolute and relative, and how is our share growing? That’s a marketing metric.

Another would be measures of aided and unaided brand awareness. Those are not typically sales concerns, but they’re very important.

Michael Webb: What does that mean, aided and unaided brand awareness?

Don Carli: So, in the hierarchy of decisions, typically the decision requires that people are willing to consider you. But before they consider you, they typically have to be aware of you. So one of the key metrics for marketers is to what extent are potential customers aware of our brand? And if I were to simply use the category descriptor for what I’m offering, and let’s just say soft drink. That’s the category, and I asked you, “What brands are you aware of that offer soft drinks?” The brands that come to mind are what we would call unaided brand awareness.

I’m sorry about that.

Brands that come to mind without a prompt on my part are measures of unaided brand awareness.

Michael Webb: Okay. Fresca, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, stuff like that.

Don Carli: Right. But if I were to give you a list of brands and say, “Which of these are you aware of, and you said, “I’m aware of this one, this one, and this one,” that would be aided brand awareness. So unaided brand awareness, obviously, is more valuable than aided brand awareness.

Beyond awareness, let’s assume there are a thousand decisions to be made in a given period of time that could result in revenue to my brand, for the purchase of a product or service that I have to offer. The first question is to what extent are the people who are going to make those thousand decisions aware of my brand? If they’re not aware of me, it’s unlikely they will consider me.

So the second metric is consideration. Soft drink, would you consider … What brands are you considering, or what brand do you consider when you seek a beverage? That’s another key metric. If there are a thousand decisions, and only 80 percent of the people who are likely to make those decisions are aware of me, my market share is capped at 80 percent. I can’t get beyond that. So the next question is, of those who are aware of me, 80 percent, what percentage would consider me? Marketing’s job is to understand the psychographic, the demographic, and use-case characteristics that lead to consideration of a brand. So that’s the second thing.

Michael Webb: Okay, and what you’re talking about, a lot of this is market research.

Don Carli: Yes.

Michael Webb: When we’re selling in large accounts, we have to do sales research, right? We have to identify who in that business is impacted one way or another by what we do. We don’t know them all. We may need to know some. We need to know about their pains and there’s all sorts of professional selling methods that enable you to access those people and develop relationships with those people. But you’re talking about at the level of the market. I mean, tell me, what’s the difference between market research and marketing?

Don Carli: So, think of it this way. The role of marketing is to create the map. It’s to create the strategy. It’s to create the frameworks for action that sales then acts on. A lot of the research, or what I would call sales intelligence, or sales insight research, is in fact confirmatory. I’m there to confirm marketing did analysis of unmet or underserved needs in this particular segment of market, for people with the following titles, or the following functional roles, who have a need for a product that we offer. My job is now to confirm that. I have identified, or I am in front of someone, who has that set of unmet or underserved needs. Marketing often is doing the same to understand the degree to which there’s an evoked set of alternatives to my brand that individuals in that market segment are likely to have in mind, and then marketing often is tasked with preparing the FAQ, if you will, the call and response that provides the salesperson with the tools required to deal with obstacles and objections.

Michael Webb: Okay, so let me then throw this at you, because I think we would be in agreement, but some different language. The goal that we’re both trying to accomplish in marketing and selling is to get the customer to take the actions we want them to take, make decisions. Those are typically, they’re along a sequence called the customer’s journey.

Don Carli: That’s correct.

Michael Webb: Especially in today’s world, there are many, many channels in media, vehicles by which the customer can go from having never heard of you before to referring you, and spending time and money with you, right, over a long period of time. There can be stages in there. I mean, they can go websites, they can go radio, they can go magazine articles, trade shows, referrals. There’s just a plethora of places that they can get information.

So salespeople can’t be in those places. So what I’m hearing you say, and I just want to see if this is correct, is that marketing is sort of designing, you said, the frameworks. I would say designing the process-

Don Carli: Frameworks are processes.

Michael Webb: That encourages the customer to move, and then all that’s automated is we can make it, and anything that can’t be automated would be what has to be done by salespeople. Is that a fair statement?

Don Carli: That’s a pretty close approximation. I think marketing has got a two-fold role, because the role of marketing doesn’t end with analysis and research. Marketing does have responsibility, generally, for identifying, sizing, segmenting, and prioritizing both markets, and go to market strategies for a brand’s offerings. That entails developing qualitative and quantitative insights about market opportunities, the characteristics of people who make the decisions or influence decisions that result in revenue, as well as looking at competitive factors, the alternate, if you will, competitive frame brands that are competing for those decisions. In the process, we’re trying to understand and communicate to a sales organization characteristics of customer demographics and psychographics, occasions of use, the characteristic unmet or underserved need, the both rational and emotional, the factors that influence their purchases, more often than not, the meaningful points of difference for a brand’s offerings that we can establish not just qualitatively, but quantitatively.

Also, to be able to establish the most compelling arguments or credibility support arguments that the salesperson can present as to why the feature benefit bundles that we say are so valuable to the customer should be believed.

So we’re tasked with identifying and attracting new customers, getting existing customers to buy more, and to refer the brand to others to develop the branding, the positioning, the messaging, the go-to-market strategies, meaning the different channels we’re going to use to manage touch points with the customer, of which a direct sales interaction between two humans is one touch point strategy, or one touch point tactic.

Michael Webb: Okay, so-

Don Carli: But marketing’s job doesn’t end there, because once the lead’s been delivered to the sales team, there’s very great value to be created through marketing’s engagement in addition to, as an adjunct to, the direct sales effort.

Michael Webb: What, by giving them sales tools or by additional messaging in the magazines?

Don Carli: Other touch points, yeah. By managing the other touch points, whether it be the web presence, whether it be a mobile app, whether it be webinars, whether it be seminars … Any and all of the interactions, or touch points between the customer and the brand.

Michael Webb: Okay, so this is sounding kind of abstract to me. Can you tell us an example, a B2B example where the company you discovered, or the client discovered that they’re out of touch somehow, that some of their assumptions were wrong. What kind of research did you do? How did you go about doing it? What did you discover? What changes did that drive? Then what were the business results?

Don Carli: Sure, so here’s an example. Again, the head of the business was looking at key metrics. What’s our revenue, and what’s our market share? The business lead understood what their revenues were and what a percentage point and share point was worth. So if a share point, a point of market share in a large market could be worth a quarter of a billion dollars, and if you’re losing market share, if you can see that your share of market is declining, now you need to do root cause analysis. What was leading to the share point decline, and correspondingly, the revenue decline?

One of the reasons we want to maintain market share is because with leadership market share, either absolute or relative, a brand can spend less as a percentage of revenue on marketing to build awareness, consideration, and other key factors that lead to success, than competitors do.

Michael Webb: Because they already have a more of a mind share-

Don Carli: Because they have market share. They have market share. That’s the key.

So what we have to do is first do root analysis. Say is our problem an awareness problem? So we did research. We conducted not only focus groups, but surveys of not just a handful, but thousands of current customers and potential customers-

Michael Webb: So is this B2B, or B to C?

Don Carli: B2B. B2B.

Michael Webb: B2B, okay.

Don Carli: So understand to measure the levels of aided and unaided awareness of our brand.

Michael Webb: So what was the industry?

Don Carli: The industry was office … Think of a company that makes services and products for documents and printing.

Michael Webb: Okay. Fair enough. That helps, and make it a little bit more concrete. So you had to call up a bunch of people, get them into a room, do focus groups, and I know there’s methods for that. What kinds of questions were you asking? You were trying to see what? Market awareness? What were you saying you were trying to do with these focus groups and surveys?

Don Carli: There were a number of things that were done. First, we were doing both focus groups, and for qualitative insight to understand the whys, but also to do quantitative research to understand the what. So at the what, at a degree of confidence. So, when we’re surveying a thousand people who are buyers of office machinery, copiers and printers, for example, we’re going to do a survey with a thousand of them. We can now say what we find can be projected to the population of millions of potential customers, because we’ve sampled it properly, at a 99 percent confidence level, plus/minus two percent, meaning 99 times out of a hundred, if I talk to someone who is interested in buying a copier or a printer, they will say the same thing, plus/minus two percent.

Michael Webb: And you know that because of sampling theory.

Don Carli: Exactly. However, that tells us what they will do, but it doesn’t necessarily help us to understand the why. So we use qualitative methods, meaning focus groups, but also … Now, today, we have some new technologies that allow us to use surveys that do natural language processing and machine learning to understand the way, in the customer’s own words, they describe why they would make that decision.

Michael Webb: Okay, and how does that help you?

Don Carli: Well once we’ve understood that the problem wasn’t awareness, but it was consideration … They were aware of our brand, but they weren’t considering it. We had to do root cause analysis. Why are they not considering it? It becomes down to perception of we perceive that you have a great product, high quality, but you’re expensive, or your sales force is arrogant, and doesn’t listen well. Or your sales force doesn’t understand my industry. Or the salespeople always want to push a particular over configured solution on me, when all I want is a simple copier.

Michael Webb: Okay. Wow!

Don Carli: In the end, what we wound up understanding was we had a consideration problem, not an awareness problem. So we knew not to spend marketing dollars on building awareness. Instead, we had to do research on how we could increase consideration for our products. It also helped us to understand in our research where we could encounter people, and get our message to them. We found out that we were underutilizing drive time radio. We asked people, “When you’re seeking insight, and you’re in that part of the customer journey, where you’re looking for alternatives, who do you turn to? Peers? Do you watch advertising? Do you attend trade events?” So we try to understand their preference in terms of channels of information that they use to inform themselves during that phase of the customer decision journey, where they’re exploring alternatives.

We identified that, in fact, we could buy drive time radio spots and we also developed a message that helped overcome their perception that the offers were too expensive by saying, it wasn’t the total amount of money they were spending that was an insight that we were able to determine, but it was the monthly outlay that they had to make to have that capability. So we said through different financing options, instead of thinking of making a 10 thousand dollar purchase, it’ll be 99 dollars a month. Suddenly, the objection went away, because, “Okay, 99 dollars a month, I can afford that. 10 thousand dollars, one shot, capital investment, I can’t afford that.” So we provided sales with … We changed the dynamic so dramatically because we had to open up two call centers, just to deal with the inbound that was coming from the drive time radio spots.

Suddenly the sales force was in a position where they couldn’t complain that they didn’t have enough leads any longer. They had all the leads they could handle. Now they had to become efficient at converting consideration to a decision.

Michael Webb: Wow, that’s fascinating. So does this compare? Because often when I’m working with B2B companies, and they come from a culture of salespeople are very important, and salespeople have to go out and make it happen. Then they’re in an environment where the customers are not looking to talk to salespeople. They’re maybe trying to avoid salespeople for reasons similar to what you were describing. So I ask the question, what would you have to do to make it so that your customer might consider actually paying to get some of your salesperson’s time. What kind of reposition would you have to do? That’s kind of in the same bathtub, isn’t it?

Don Carli: Similar, in fact. So if you think of copiers. They’re a commodity. And printers, they’re a commodity. When we did interviews in focus groups, basically the buyers would all say, “Well, they’re just all gray, plastic boxes. They’re pretty much all comparable.” All they thought that differed was the feeds, and speeds, and the price. But one of the things we helped them understand that there was a total cost of ownership, and we developed a business services group that let people do a self-assessment of what they had on their floors today, and what it was costing them. Then we were able to take the insight from those self-assessments and tell them how much money they could save, and frankly, not just how much money they could save, but how we could improve their work life.

By changing their perspective, and instead of thinking of buying equipment, let us servicize it, and provide you with a contract that would take the equipment off your books, in some cases, take the dedicated personnel off your payroll, put them on our books, and on our payroll, and then deliver a service level agreement that would guarantee the people in your organization would get the number of copies, the quality of copies, the price per copy that we’re going to meet your business objectives without ever having to worry about whether a printer was jammed, whether you’d run out of toner, didn’t have the right paper, or didn’t have someone who could configure a print queue as required.

So we changed the nature of the sales relationship from a transactional relationship, where they’re selling a box, to a transformational, consultative relationship, where the role of the sales executive was to introduce all of these competencies and analyzing the right equipment, and the right place, with the right capabilities, and providing a single source of responsibility for the delivery of service.

Michael Webb: There’s so many businesses that need to make a transition like that. I mean, in a recent conversation with Bill Waddell, a well-known lien management consultant, I was telling him about a couple of client situations where in one case a company is a distributor of electronic components, little resistors, and capacitors, you know, the kind of popcorn stuff that you see soldered to a circuit board. This company is successful, and they’ve been around for a long, long time, medium-sized distributors, gigantic industry. But they’re known as a jobber, because when certain parts are difficult to find, they’ve got the resources to go find them and make sure they’re not Chinese counterfeits. So their salesforce is out there essentially transactional. You got anything for me today? They’re trying to transition for a smaller, medium-sized manufacturer, to say why don’t you just outsource the entire purchasing of that kind of product to us, in exchange for guaranteed service level, guaranteed cost per parts can be more competitive. You don’t have to have those. Just outsource the whole thing to us. A whole different sales process required to do that.

Don Carli: Yeah.

So I mean, one of the essential roles of marketing is to understand the nature of demand, to characterize the factors that lead to decisions. There are really only two kinds of people in the world: customers and non-customers. What defines a customer? What defines a customer? It’s an individual or a group that makes a decision that yields revenue or some other form of compensation to your brand.

So business is about decisions, and marketing is about understanding where decisions are made, why decisions are made, how decisions are made, and providing insights about those processes to the salesforce.

The salesforce is kind of like the infantry, in most cases. Marketing plays a dual role. On the one hand, it’s doing aerial reconnaissance. It’s got spy satellites in the sky, and it’s looking at the landscape, and the movements of troops, and backstage logistics, and all of the things that make it possible for the individual who’s facing the customer to be successful.

Michael Webb: So we’ve all heard of large companies who ultimately, they decided they have to improve the brand somehow. So they spend tons of money, and they go out and do it, and it doesn’t really have an impact. I mean, I’m sure you’ve heard-

Don Carli: To the point, again, in many cases, the science of marketing is not applied. Instead, the art of marketing is applied.

Michael Webb: So talk more about that. Describe the science versus the art, and why isn’t it always the science of marketing, instead of most of the time being the art?

Don Carli: Well, it goes back to the work of C.P. Snow’s two cultures. You know, the sciences and the liberal arts, if you will, have always had kind of mutual antipathy and disrespect for each other. The marketing disciplines have a lot of creative aspects to them that are rather subjective. However, in recent years, the science of marketing has evolved significantly. The growth of big data, data analytics, multi-dimensional databases, and the ability to collect information about not only opinions, but behaviors, not only historically, but in real-time, is changing the nature of marketing from one that was historically somewhat academic and retrospective, to one that is very much predictive and action-oriented.

So we’re now able to give the kind of real-time insight and predictive capability to sales that they could only have dreamed of 10 or 15 years ago. The science of it, it really does come down to understanding what factors contribute to aided and unaided awareness. What factors contribute to consideration for our offer, or offers, or brand? What characterizes the strengths and weaknesses of competitive brands in the evoked set, the set of brands that come to mind when the target customer is considering a purchase of a brand product in that category. Then, also understanding optimal strategies for the deployment of resources to maintain awareness and consideration through touchpoints, and different touchpoints have different costs associated with them.

One of the key metrics we think about in marketing is marketing’s percentage of customer acquisition costs. So if my goal is to build awareness to the point where it’s at 80 percent or better, and consideration to the point where it’s at 80 percent, let’s say. Now I’ve got the ability to say I can present more marketing qualified leads to sales, and the tools required for sales to overcome obstacles and objections and convince or persuade the prospect to make a decision in favor of our brand. On a basis that will generate not only revenue, but attractive margin, and hopefully through ongoing touchpoints, both by the sales organization and by the marketing organization, in different channels, in different ways of keeping top of mind awareness, and reinforcing consideration and trust in the brand, to maximize customer lifetime value, and to minimize customer churn, maximize customer referral.

Michael Webb: So you’re really talking about helping companies to figure out if they need to change, and then how to change how they go to market.

Don Carli: How to best deploy resources to maximize the return on investment, whether it’s a marketing dollar or a sales dollar.

Michael Webb: So channels in markets, that’s a huge issue. You have people who grew up selling through channels, and you have people who grew up selling direct, and those two guys do not understand each other. Go ahead and comment on that.

Don Carli: In the years that I worked with Xerox, we had a very significant direct sales organization. We also had a fairly well-developed channel.

Michael Webb: Right. That’s common. They have them both, but they’re two different divisions, right?

Don Carli: They often conflict.

Michael Webb: Yup.

Don Carli: In addition, we had developed some rather unusual approaches to marketing where we were selling to the brand on the one hand, through industry marketing, but then we were also selling to the commercial printing industry, which was using the same equipment to do what was called Print for Pay, for the brand. Again, another potential source of conflict.

Marketing’s role was to understand the nature of conflict and to develop strategies for minimizing channel conflict so that we could maximize not only awareness of our brand, but consideration from our brand, brand loyalty, and referral. We were always looking at key metrics for levels of customer satisfaction, but also net promoter scores, which are an effective proxy for referral.

Michael Webb: So let me throw this question at you, and then we’ll probably have to wrap up. There’s just so many neat things to talk about, and so much curiosity of all the different ways of making things better, making your marketing and selling more effective. But one of them clearly is getting voice of customer. What you’ve been talking about is these ways of doing surveys and focus groups, and other kinds of research, which is about what do these customers want. I’ve long recommended to clients that they need to utilize every stick and stitch of VOC that is in the business. Traffic to websites, you know, calls into a call center, return authorizations, customer service calls, but even salespeople, when they’re not visiting customers, they’re learning stuff about the customers. Often companies have tons of VOC around, but they’re not really using it.

Don Carli: Yeah, it’s unstructured. There are two kinds of data in the world: structured and unstructured data. Unfortunately, much of the information that salespeople gather is unstructured. If you think of it in terms of structure and unstructured, if I ask you an open-ended question, like, “Tell me about your day,” you could go on for an hour and that’s quite different than if I were to break down what I believe, with a hypothesis of what the key activities in your day are, and ask you multiple choice questions for each of those things, where I could assign a quantitative metric to your answer.

Today, the innovation that is going to change the game is the ability to apply natural language processing and machine learning to unstructured data. To give you an example, I recently did a study for a Fortune 500 company that was entering the eCommerce distribution channel for its products. They had never done that before. It raises whole new questions about how the product should be configured, and packaged, and priced. Typically, you would do focus groups with maybe 20 or 50 people, and then you might do a survey. But a focus group is qualitative. You cannot project what people say in a focus group with any degree of probability to a population. All a focus group or a one on one interview that’s unstructured tells you is something is possible. It’s possible, but I can’t tell you how probable it is until I have a sample that is using a structured methodology of somewhere in the order of 130 or 140 people. Now I can say nine times out of 10, we will encounter the same response, or the same behavior, plus/minus six percent.

That’s better than tossing a coin, which is what you have when you’re dealing with anecdotal or qualitative information. All it tells you is possible, and you can toss a coin as to whether it’s more or less possible.

Michael Webb: So you’re talking about this … You had to put some structure into it in order to understand this voice of customer.

Don Carli: In fact, what we used is a new kind of tool that allows us to ask an open-ended question. For example, “What distinguishes a quality product versus a non-quality product?” The salespeople initially said, “We’re not getting sales because our customers don’t perceive us as having our brand as communicating a quality product.” When I asked the salespeople, “Then fine. Please explain to me, what do you mean?” They had their explanation.

Instead, I asked two thousand customers, “What, in your own words, distinguishes a quality product from a non-quality product in this category,” and they used their own language.

Now, subsequent to making a statement, a natural language processing algorithm looks at what they say, and analyzes it in terms of its semantic characteristics and emotion, and it categorizes it into groups, and then in the time it takes them to put the dot on the end of the sentence, it presents them with four or five other statements made by other respondents to the same question, in their own language, and says, “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?”

When I do that 250 times, I can now say not only is this what people might say, but I can tell you at a 90 percent confidence or support level that nine times out of 10 people will agree that this describes a quality product in their own words. That is a quantum leap in terms of being able to capture voice of the customer in vernacular, in their own words, but in real-time, in the matter of a day, to be able to quantify the degree to which there’s a consensus that that opinion is representative of nine out of 10 of the people I will encounter in the entire market.

Michael Webb: My goodness. I think of all the thousands of salespeople this very moment, who are banging the phone, making cold calls, and they can’t get people to talk to them, and you just described talking to enough people in one day, and having a machine help conduct the conversation so you can extract a lot more learning from it.

Don Carli: And the conversation, today we can do that with a chatbot, so to the consumer, they’re on their phone, and it looks like somebody’s sending them a short text asking a question, and in 140 characters or so, I ask them to describe in their own words how they feel about something, or what their reason is for doing something. Within a second of completing that statement, it presents them with five or six other statements, or four or five other statements made by others and says, “To what extent do you agree or disagree with this?” That quantifies it.

In addition, let’s say two people said something similar. Now I also present them with the two statements, and I ask them, “Do these two things mean the same thing?” So I’m not only able to quantify the level of the support for a given statement, but I’m able to use machine learning and this kind of rapid feedback to do something called to disambiguate, to distinguish whether two different statements actually mean the same thing or whether they are two different statements that mean two different things.

But again, in the mind of the customer … And what that helps the sales force understand is that yes, what you learn when you talk to five or 10 people, or your best customer, is important. It’s a possibility. But now, we can plug that into frameworks for analysis that allow us to assign probabilities to those things. When you have better probability, you have better predictability of outcomes.

Michael Webb: Wow. So Don, we’re pushing up our time limit here against the end of it, but there’s just so many more … I want to ask you so many more questions on this. Could we, perhaps, get together again and take some of these ideas and kind of drill into them a little bit more? Would you be open to having another podcast?

Don Carli: Be my pleasure.

Michael Webb: Great. So if someone wants to get ahold of you, do you have an offer on your website, or how can someone get ahold of you?

Don Carli:

Michael Webb: And Carli is C-A-R-L-I

Don Carli: C-A-R-L-I, correct, and my Twitter handle is dcarli, D-C-A-R-L-I, that’s always easy. So they can go to the website. There is a form they can fill out there, but they can also reach me at, or via LinkedIn or Twitter. All those work.

Michael Webb: That’s super. Well, I want to thank you very much. This has been very enlightening, and I want more, and I know my audience would too. So thank you very much.

Don Carli: Thank you, Mike.


Michael Webb

Michael Webb founded Sales Performance Consultants to create a data-driven alternative to the slogans and shallow impact offered by typical sales training, sales consulting, and CRM companies. Michael helped organize and delivered the keynote speeches for the first conferences ever held on applying Six Sigma to marketing and sales. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Richard Czerniawski - March 18, 2019 Reply

Super podcast! Don Carli is very knowledgeable and professional. What’s he’s talking about can help both marketing and the sales force to get it right!

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