One of the best ways to do this is with peer-to-peer selling, as it’s a great way to build trust, focus on building a win-win relationship, and close more sales. Tune in to this episode of CEO Sales Strategies to hear Doug C. Brown and Nate Nasralla, CEO of Fluint.io, discuss finding champions for your accounts, selling large and complex sales, navigating layers of communication, and more.
Nate Nasralla is the founder and CEO of Fluint, the world’s first Buyer Enablement platform. He’s a 3x sales leader, 2x founder, and loves his wife, dark chocolate, and the Rocky Mountains.
Visit his website: www.fluint.io
Nate is giving away a free 30-minute, 1:1 coaching session on champion-building strategy, messaging, and sales materials review. Schedule here: https://calendly.com/fluint/coaching
We’re bringing you a great guest and an awesome episode. We’re talking to Mr. Nate Nasralla from Colorado. He owns a company called Fluint.io. We’re going to talk a lot about large sales, peer-to-peer selling, building a relationship from the origin, and getting a champion within the account, so now that you’re selling not to the company, but you’re doing a peer-to-peer sales effort with the company.
When you can get people internally championing the whole process, sponsoring you, talking to other people, and you get everybody on the same page and same language moving in the same spirit of the same ranks and moving in that direction, you will have a very strong chance of closing the sale. One thing to know is it’s not just on enterprise-size accounts. It could be mid-size or normal. The more you can get the buying team, the people you’re selling to and working with you in a team effort, you will sell more. Pay attention. This guy is smart. Let’s go to the interview.
Nate, welcome to the show. Thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me, Doug. It’s great to be here.
I’m so excited to have this conversation because we’re talking about two of my favorite things in the world: communications and selling large accounts. You’ve built a software for service on and around this. If you want to sell the largest sales and want to do it the right way, Nate and I have had conversations in the past. Nate, let’s talk about getting a champion inside the organization. We used to call these executive sponsors, but it’s the same thing. It’s like, who inside the organization is going to champion this whole thing and carry this for us? Can you speak to that? Why is a champion important?
A lot of times when this topic comes up, the champion, what you’ll hear about the importance or the role of a champion is about information. It gives the sales rep information, so the sales rep can do their job in closing the deal. In my view, a champion’s role is to shift the sales process from selling to your buyers to selling with them. The reason why I say that is that if you look at all of the moments that can create or kill deals, oftentimes, it’s not happening in a sales meeting where the sales rep is in the room.
Oftentimes, it’s in an internal meeting where one buyer goes through all the demos and reads the downloads. They go back to their team and they share their view in their words. They’re describing the product. They’re making a pitch that often sounds very different from what the sales rep is saying. The question is like, “How can you align the conversations that are happening internally about you without you?” That’s the role of a champion.
We’re happy to dig in more, but that’s the key thing that I have found throughout my experience selling that is often different from when people talk about the role of a champion. It’s like, “Get me information. Show me what I need to do so that I am pushing the sale forward on my own.” It’s a team effort when you’re selling with a champion.
Let’s talk about what a large sale is because sometimes people are like, “Large sale, that’s $10,000.” For some people, that’s a large sale. We’re not talking about those types of large sales. We’re talking about large multicomplex-type sales.
What I would say is when you talk about a complex sale, everybody thinks that the job they’re doing is complex. There’s a level of truth to that. No doubt, but there’s a correlation between as the contract size increases, the number of contacts involved in the sale increases as well, so creating alignment between all of those different players inside of the buying process, that’s tricky. That’s where the complexity comes in.
I love what you said because it’s very simple and right to the point. As the deal size and complexity of the size grows, other people other than the person that maybe you’re used to talking to are going to come into the situation and they’re going to have decision-making authority based on their own domain. For example, human resources would be involved in a decision that if the salesperson selling is not aware of this relationship, human resources could come in and kill it behind the scenes in a different meeting. That’s what I’m hearing.
The way that I would think about it is to picture a Venn diagram with three circles. Inside of each circle, you have a different group of contacts involved in the process. When you have the decision-maker or in medic language, that economic buyer, the person who’s signing the line because it comes from their budget. You then have this group of stakeholders, people who can block a deal like HR, for example, procurement, legal, and so on. You then have the direct users. Those are the people that are going to be in the software consuming the service day-to-day.
Where all three of those things intersect, there’s your champion alignment between all those different groups, but to your point, let’s say you have the decision-maker or the economic buyer excited about the impact that you can have, and then you have the stakeholders, HR, they’re like, “This looks great. We’ll sign off on it,” but you don’t have the direct users bought in probably that could be where a competitor comes to them.
They know the problem. They’re looking for a solution, but somebody else comes in and takes the deal, or you have the budget and you have the direct users, they’re both excited and willing to sign off, but then you have a blocker in the deal like HR or somebody else, who’s not letting the deal go through. I’ll tie those two threads together.
To your point, peer-to-peer selling, there are a lot of different roles on the buying side. It should be a call for the seller to introduce members of their team who can speak directly to each of those different needs and roles. Where the champion comes in and why it’s selling with them as opposed to them is so key is because they’re the glue between all of those different circles.
It sounds like you’ve done this a few times.
I draw a lot of graphs as well. I generally think very visually.
Here’s the thing, you built the software, but this came out of the experience. It wasn’t like one day you were like, “I’ll build this software.” This came out of something that you were experiencing because you were selling on very high levels for multiple years. Do you mind sharing a little bit about your background?
For my career, I’m in B2B sales. Sometimes it’s building the products as a founder. Sometimes it’s building teams to go sales, to build an enterprise team from scratch. Along the way, it was always the same problem. It was like, “What are they saying about this deal when we’re not in the room? How do we control the message and the narrative during internal meetings that sales reps aren’t part of, whether it was me working on the deal directly or a member of our team?”
What kicked off this whole journey was one specific deal where I was like, “There are more people in this deal who I can’t even name yet. I don’t know what’s being said.” I was like, “Let me try this.” I open up a blank Google Doc inside the meeting. As I was talking with someone who became the champion in the deal, I wrote down everything that she was saying, how she framed their problem, some of the things that she talks to her team about the language that they used. Toward the end of the call, I opened up the doc. Her name was Christina.
I said, “Christina, you’re going to go back and share our conversation with your team. This is the message that you’re trying to communicate. Is this along the lines of what you’re looking for?” She was like, “This is perfect because I always have to create an internal brief. We use Google Docs internally to have my team weigh in and share questions and feedback. That’s how we progressed through projects.” I was like, “Perfect.” She was like, “Here are three emails. Can you add them into the stock?” We took her brand and formatted it to look like an internal brief.
The next morning, I woke up and I saw three names. I didn’t know people would be looking at the deal, all sharing comments and questions. One of them was on privacy and data security. I was like, “Christina, we didn’t talk about this.” I could follow up and give her what she needed. It was this moment of like, “I’m no longer selling to Christina. I’m selling with her.” I’ve used this phrase a couple of times.
We’re selling as a team and I’m enabling her to champion a message that I’ve helped shape and we’ve worked on together. That was like, “I need to go deeper in figuring out if we can do this for every deal.” It turned out to be the largest deal in company history. “Can I do this for every deal? Will this process work?” That’s what kicked off taking that process to other B2B teams to turn it into a product. That’s the origin story.
It’s born out of pain. Usually, great products and services are the evolution of them. Somebody’s got some problem or thing and it’s frustrating the heck out of them, and then they figure out, “Everybody else has this issue as well.” I love that you said that it was team feedback because a lot of people selling don’t realize that this isn’t just on super high-end sales.
There have been deals I know, early on in my career when I was out selling, especially telecommunications, I would sell the deal, the chief financial officer would be like, “The numbers are great.” All of a sudden, I get feedback two weeks later, “We can’t do this.” As I started to dig into this, I forgot IT.
It varies by niche. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people selling into HR, HR software. What they’ve discovered is that HR doesn’t have the unilateral ability to push a deal forward that’s going to affect all of the different lines of business that now have to use this HR software. You have to sell through the HR team to get to all of the lines of business and, ultimately, finance. That’s the case even if it’s a $15,000, $20,000 purchase, which in the grand scheme of things would fall into the upper end of small business or mid-market deal size. Certainly not an enterprise-level contract. However, the level of complexity and the number of contacts still exist inside that context.
It's no secret that the tech stack for sales is pretty crowded, but there's this huge gap that exists between conversation intelligence, coaching for sales reps, delivering the perfect pitch, and sales enablement. Click To Tweet
For those of you reading, by the way, we’re to talking to Nate Nasrallah. He has a company called Fluint.io. I’m going to ask you all to check it out. It’s a cool service here because it allows us to take deals and get information for people to partner up with them. I always talk about win-win selling because I wish I had originally come up with that title. I did title one of my books that, but I certainly wasn’t the originator of win-win selling.
What you’re talking about is win-win selling, good for them and good for us, and we’re helping champion the process and given the champion who wants the deal to go through internally, but we’ll run up against certain roadblocks, whether they’re professional ROI roadblocks or their personal ROI, roadblocks.
It’s like politics in some ways. They want to get a bill through or whatever. It’s not as nasty as politics. What you’re talking about is human-to-human communication for an outcome that everybody benefits out of, but if we don’t have that communication, then we as the selling channel have dropped the ball.
I love the phrase, win-win. My view is it’s not only a win-win in the purchase or outcome, but in the process to get there. One of the most fascinating pieces of the research that went into the product design was talking with the buyers to figure out what was going on outside of sales meetings. For the seller, it’s the sales process. For the buyers, it’s the buying process.
What are you doing in order to push the deal through? It came down to 1 of 2 things. One, they would wing it. When they would go into a meeting, let’s say, the marketing manager will go to the VP of marketing or the CMO. They would verbally talk through their case for this purchase, why there’s a need, and so on.
Second, they would talk about this treasure hunt. What they would do is they would go through all of the different materials, the stack of case studies, the demo recordings, and so on, and they pick out a snippet here or there, a sentence that relates and translates it into something that they hear their CMO talking about, the words that she uses, how she talks to the board, and then they would write up their own brief. Like in the example that I was talking about and put it into their internal format.
The issue with that second step is, one, it’s a ton of work for the buyer. Two, It leaves all of the control over that narrative and the message in their hands as opposed to allowing the sales rep some level of influence because they’re selling their product all the time. There are things that they can contribute. It all came down to, “Can you better align the sales and buying processes so that those aren’t separate tracks or bring them together into one valuable process?
Put them all on the same communications path as well. That’s what I love about what you folks have done. You would level the playing field. It’s like a game plan. I love hockey, so I watch a lot of hockey. What they do is they take a time out and then they draw on a board and everybody’s around the board and people are giving feedback. “Will this play work? Will that play not work at this time?”
I see you doing or have done something like that, but this allows everyone in the company to have a say in their own language. The salespeople know what the language is, so they’ve got to know how to talk the language of these people. In my case, if I didn’t know IT, I better bring somebody in from my company that knows how to speak IT or that type of language, but now I have to do that as a salesperson instead of “winging it.”
That’s where the whole name of the product, Fluint comes from. One, as a sales rep, “Are you speaking to your buyer’s language and using the words that will resonate all the way up at an executive level?” On the flip side, “Are you teaching your buyer to articulate and communicate your product value fluently?” When you’re not in the room or when the champion is pitching, what are they saying about your product? You go through intensive training. You have sales enablement teams talking all about how to deliver the perfect pitch. The question is, “Have you coached and enabled your champion to be able to do the same thing in those internal buying conversations?”
If you haven’t, you’re dead in the sales process at this point in high probability. Here’s the reason why. Sales have changed over the years. We both know this now. The sales decision is made more on the marketing level before it even gets to the salesperson. Before, marketing used to be separate. Now they’ve merged at this point.
The language throughout is being used from the beginning all the way through. They’re going to social media and looking at LinkedIn profiles of the salesperson. They’re doing research now like they never had the opportunity to because they have information, number one. Two, they know they don’t have to buy from this person that just walked in through the door.
What I love about what you guys are doing is you’re bridging the human-to-human connection, which is what most people in sales forget about. They’re working on the professional ROI like lower cost per acquisition, or “You get this percentage of increase in whatever.” That’s all-important, but they’re missing the buyer’s actual buying criteria and the influencers throughout the process, the team players.
For me, this is like a home run. By the way, it doesn’t have to be super big accounts. You and I have sold big accounts like this, but it doesn’t have to be that size. It could be smaller deals. Those of you who are selling to husband and wife, if you’re just talking to the husband and ignoring the wife because you don’t know what to say or you don’t have the language of what she’s thinking, you’re probably not going to get the sale.
Let’s say you do a retail sale, for example. They leave the location and they get back in their vehicle, and he goes, ” I want that,” and she goes, “Heck, no. That is not going to happen.” He’s going to go, “Why? It makes sense from a professional ROI.” She goes, “That guy ignored me through the whole sale. No, I don’t want this for this reason. I’m not putting this into our home.” Nobody’s on the same page. That turns into a big issue in sales, whether it’s B2B or even B2C, because we do have a lot of B2C readers as well that could use your product and close the gap on that stuff.
I’m thinking about one experience that I had in the last couple of months. I’ll come to it by way of what you were saying around how the buying process or sales has evolved. Particularly, in an inbound setting where you have somebody who’s already been doing the research, checking out all the product information, they have a lot of facts, but when they show up and they’re talking to the sales rep, what they’re looking to figure out is how they feel about the purchase. “Is this somebody that I can trust? Am I feeling confident? Am I going to have regrets after making this decision?”
As a seller, there’s not a level of empathy created from the ability to articulate somebody’s problem in language that makes them feel like, “You get me,” then it’s going to be hard to develop any level of confidence that your solution is the correct one. I was thinking about the buyer’s journey in the sense of like, “We’re pretty good at mapping it out in terms of touchpoints, a download here, a meeting here and what that looks like all the way from first contact to close.”
What we need to do better as a profession is thinking about the emotional journey of the buyer along the way. My wife and I tend to save quite a bit. We rarely splurge. We had never flown first class before. As I was checking in for this flight, we were going to Portugal. We’re flying Denver over to Lisbon. I saw an upgrade when I was checking in for $250 a ticket. I was like, “No way. When is this ever going to happen?” We went for it. At every point throughout this experience, the impression that was left with me was how I was feeling.
I saw all the facts of this inch legroom, these meal services, and so on, but when I was sitting in the lounge before the flight, I was like, “I deserve to be away from the hustle and bustle in this quiet, serene place.” We get on the flight and they hand us a refreshing facial mist and dark chocolates that I’m like, “Yes, I deserve dark chocolates before my flight takes off.” As we’re laying out flat on the bed in the middle of the night, where my wife and I were both awake, she rolls over and she’s like, “Thank you. You must have loved me to treat me to this experience.”
I was like, “Yes, I’m a loving husband.” That is how I see myself. All of those things will get me to come back and buy another first-class ticket. Even if it’s not $250, it’s going to be much more next time. That’s what stuck with me. I agree with your point that feelings play an outsized role in the decision-making process. Even in the most logical structured business environment, it all comes down to emotion.
I’ve been preaching this from the soapbox for many years. I’m so grateful that you brought that forth because we are not selling to titles. We are selling to people. I always say business is so easy. It’s money out, money in, equals something until you add people to the mix. When you add people, then it becomes this complexity of emotions and all this stuff. What you’ve done is you’re addressing that and putting everybody on the same page through Fluint.
I highly recommend everybody go check it out. Nate, I got asked this question because I was there when I first heard about it. It’s like, “Is this easy to use, or is this going to slow me down?” You know how salespeople are. We want things now, quick as fast as we can get them and nothing gets in our way. What’s the process like? I’m bought in and now I want to start utilizing this whole thing. What do I do?
Here’s the dream that sellers were talking about in designing the product is, “I want to give my champion a clear, compelling business case that has exactly what the problem is, the costs, lays out a case for moving forward, they can articulate this, get everybody on the same page,” and it doesn’t happen. The reason why is that we looked at a gap between conversation intelligence, coaching for sales reps, delivering the perfect pitch, and then sales enablement. “Here’s all of the case studies and the marketing materials that you need for a follow-up.”
What ends up happening is you end a call. You need to follow up and take a template at stack with case study links and ship it off. That’s option A. Option B, you playback the recording. You look at all of the notes, you download the PowerPoint out of your enablement system. You’re spending an hour making updates and edits, attaching it to an email, and sending it off. That’s the current state.
What Fluint moves you toward is during a conversation, it is writing out exactly what your buyer is saying and highlighting key phrases and key points that you can save. After the call, you can drag and drop those points, like Mad Libs. Drag and drop it into the framework that has that message and that business case already built out for the champion.
You can align different pieces of your product designs, alongside their own words about the problem, and then add the champion and the whole buying team into that workspace to collaborate on edits, updates, and questions, so it becomes a center of deal activity going forward. It moves you past that first template, “I hope they like this. Let me kick it off and get it off my plate,” but without all of the time spent to create a message that the champions are proud to share with the rest of the buying team.
What’s so cool about it is the buying team language. They’re going to get this feeling like, “You know me.” It’s like what your wife said to you on the plane. “You must’ve loved me in order to go through this effort to get us to this place.” Imagine, you folks reading, that you’re the person who creates that feeling amongst all the team members in a company that you’re trying to sell against your competitors.
Your competitors are coming in, and they’re still showing statistics, spreadsheets, charts, darts, graphs, and all this other stuff talking about the professional ROI. You’re talking about the personal and the professional. You’re bringing everybody together to feel amazing about the opportunity that they’re embarking upon. That’s what I got out of your software when I took a look.
It’s right on. We gravitate toward the people who speak like us. If in our first conversation, I talked to you about how I’m a huge fan of win-win selling. I didn’t know anything about you, but I used that phrase. You’d be like, “This is my guy. He understands the world that I come from.”
We all rather buy from a friend. There’s nothing more that brings people together than a common language and understanding of each other. Nate, let’s do a call to action. How do people get some exposure to either yourself, if you want that, or certainly to Fluint?
The best place to check out is Fluint.io. You can see more about the product and check out the blog. We do a ton of writing there. If you want to connect on LinkedIn, I’m happy to connect with any and everybody, @NateNasralla on LinkedIn as well.
Nate, I want to thank you for being here. It’s been a great conversation. I know everybody got a ton of value out of this. I’d love to have you back on another strategy session of the show if you’re up for it in the future.
I’m very much up for it. Thanks, Doug.
Thank you so much.
Wasn’t that great? Think about this. You can sell to any size account. You want to sell to those upper small, medium, and larger because you can grow faster that way and automate anything else on the bottom end that you could just sell. In other words, stay toward the higher-end sales, if you can possibly do that. Your company will grow faster than the market rate. To do that, learning how to sell what I call peer-to-peer or what he calls champion selling is a must if you want to continue to sell in the 2022 post-season.
Here’s the reality, people are not just looking for a professional ROI anymore. They are looking for somebody who can bond with them and help them. If you can inject empathy and build rapport through the whole process, how do you do that? Communication is one of the best ways of doing this. Language is one of the best ways of doing this.
Try going to a country that’s not yours that speaks a different language, and try to speak your language and not theirs. You’ll have a different reaction from the people if you learn some of the basic phrases. They know you’re trying. It brings you closer to them. Why wouldn’t you do this in business? Why wouldn’t you want to learn what the buyer, the influencers, the team members, the end-users everybody is saying and use that language so that everybody knows you know what they’re looking for and how they feel?
That’s the key to what Nate has been proposing and what I’ve been saying on this show over and over again, you’ve got to build relationships. Forget the ABCs of always be closing. Always be Building A Relationship, I call it ABAR. Build ABAR and check out Nate’s software. It’s pretty cool. You’ll like it. If you have any questions, reach out to him directly.
If you ever need somebody to help you raise your sales and help you move to the next level, I’m your guy. Get me Doug C. Brown on LinkedIn. Reach out to us at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com. If you like this show, I will be asking for a favor. Please go up and subscribe to this show. Sometimes, I don’t know why they make it a little more difficult to subscribe to shows, not me, the people who put this on for us, but if you would, take the time to go do that because the more subscribers that we have, the higher rankings, the more people see this.
I’ve been getting cards, letters, phone calls, and all kinds of stuff from people saying, “This show has been helping me out.” I’m grateful to keep doing those. Subscribers, if you want to subscribe and give it a high-ranking, five-star review, that would be great too. I wish you a great day. Understand how to sell and how to sell peer to peer. Understand their language patterns. Build a team together in the process of selling not your team, but your team sells with them, not to them. You will fare far better in sales going forward. As always, go out, sell something, sell a lot of it, and make some money for your success.
Selling with buyers (not to them), by creating deal champions is my jam.
You’ll read a lot about that if you follow me 🤟🏼
1:1 coaching on follow-up strategy: calendly.com/fluint/coaching 🤓
More writing at fluint.io/blog 🧑💻
The backstory, if you’re curious:
B2B sales has been my whole career, and I love it. Sometimes, I’m founding the products I sell. Other times, building teams to sell.
In every case, sales = creating + closing new deals. Trouble is, I realized sales reps don’t close deals. Buyers do. Because make-or-break moments in every deal happen without sales reps in the room.
A buyer’s internal meetings is where champions pitch their team, in their own words. AE’s know how to sell. But they don’t always have a great way to help champions sell when they’re not around.
It’s why I founded Fluint.io — to help sellers stop losing deals when they’re not in the room. Before we launch, sharing all I know from 10 years selling + interviews with 290 buyers.
1:1 coaching when you need it — https://calendly.com/fluint/coaching 🤓
I also write long-form and tactical content for B2B sales teams work to enable their buyers with a strong message — head to https://fluint.io/blog 🧑💻