How to Partner with Customers by Asking Great Questions

Seller's Journey Episode 13
Transparent sales process - working together
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Welcome back to the From Vendorship → Partnership podcast, Season 2: Seller’s Journey! 

This season, we’re talking to B2B sales leaders about their experience building winning processes, coaching & scaling teams, and partnering with customers.

Our guest this week is Mark Ripley, VP of Sales at Mosaic!

Mark is new to Mosaic (he started about three months ago), but has 20+ years of sales experience. He fell in love with sales while selling retail during college, worked as a BDR, then was an AE for a decade before making the jump into sales leadership about 10 years ago. Now, he loves building and leading productive sales teams centered on a culture of teamwork and support.

Listen to the episode here, and get the key takeaways from our conversation below.

🙅 What do people get wrong when it comes to sales at startups?

A common tendency of many salespeople: talking too much!

“Telling is not selling,” Mark said. “It’s about asking thought-provoking questions to get your customer to open up and think about problems they might not even know they have.”

Asking great questions is key to being a great seller. They should go beyond the basic discovery questions, and you should be asking them throughout the entire sales process, not just during the discovery phase.

Tap into your curiosity and aim to truly understand your customer’s challenges and goals, so you can build better relationships (and win more & better deals!) 

🤝 How does your team effectively partner with customers?

1. Drive toward your customer assuming ownership of your solution.

The moment that transfer of ownership occurs, says Mark, the game changes. It’s when you as the seller are in the passenger’s seat, and your customer is in the driver’s seat – they’re truly involved and engaged in your solution and focused on achieving their goals with it.

“That’s the North Star we should be driving toward in terms of building relationships,” said Mark. Then the question becomes: what are the steps you need in order to help them achieve those goals?

2. Understand your buyer’s process.

Ask good questions not only about the problems your buyer is trying to solve, but what their buying process looks like. Timeline and budget are the basics, but also ask about who’s involved, whether the decision makers have visibility and how to loop them in, and whether this is an approved project or something aspirational. 

Understand your buyer’s journey and requirements – then you can better control the deal by aligning on timeline and getting everyone on the same page.

3. Use mutual action plans (MAPs) for complex deals.

MAPs are a great way to keep everyone on track and aligned on next steps and expectations throughout the deal – especially if the deal cycle is long and involves multiple stakeholders.

It might sound simple, but always knowing what the next step is makes a huge difference in keeping your deals on track and delivering value to your buyers.

💡 Lightning Round: Mark’s Fast Sales Insights

  • Favorite sales app/software? Gong.
  • Another sales team you admire? LinkedIn – I’ve always admired the way they’ve built their team. They’re very successful and productive, but they also seem to have a fantastic culture.
  • Helpful book/resource? The Qualified Sales Leader by John McMahon.
  • The hardest part of scaling sales at an early stage startup? People: bringing on world-class people, empowering and enabling them, and keeping them longer.

About Mark

Mark Ripley is the VP of Sales at Mosaic. Mark is a revenue leader with 20+ years of experience in SaaS and Cloud Computing Software, with a successful track record building, leading and scaling high performance sales teams that consistently surpass revenue goals and grow market share. He has a reputation for building a vibrant culture and cohesive teams, united by their collective motivation to achieve ambitious team goals.