When we first approached Baker Communications, it was to learn more about their Outcome Selling methodology and workshop. We were told by some of their clients that the workshop was loaded with information and best practices on becoming a “trusted advisor” for your clients and prospects.
As part of our vetting process, we first checked out a third-party site that asks users to rate vendors’ courses. That was a good start. It showed Baker receiving 5.0 from 99.9% of the attendees. That is what prompted us to reach out to the company. Our thinking was “what better way to learn what building trust was all about than to hear it from a company that teaches how to do it.”
For sure, what we learned was very valuable, and we’ll share eight of the many tips we learned from attending their workshop later in the article. But there was a bigger surprise in store for us. It was about their whole “customer-first” orientation. They preach “start with the customer and then work backward.” And that’s something that they do with their customers to help them find solutions – even if those solutions are offered by a third party or partner.
But the real surprise was the lengths to which they went to fulfill that obligation.
It all began with a simple question from one of their largest customers. It had to do with the approach taken by sales training vendors who were trying to sell their courses to that customer. What the customer heard was how great one vendor’s courses were versus another vendor’s courses. In each case, the customer complained that they received tons of testimonials saying how each vendor’s customers felt that this was the best course that they ever had and that everyone should go to it. Seeing they had received those comments from every vendor, that only served to eliminate that as a reliable selection criterion.
The challenge was how to replace those ‘opinions’ with hard data. What they wanted to know was how to be more scientific about choosing the training. Surely, there must be a better way than just going by someone else’s opinions. What if healthcare worked that way? What if the only thing you had to rely on for medical care was one doctor’s opinion versus another? Would that be good enough? After all, that’s how medical care was given 100 years ago. There were no diagnostic tests. No lab work results. No MRIs. No X-rays. Just opinion.
And it was that analogy that drove Baker to search for scientific data that could replace opinion. After all, it’s that availability of data that makes us trust healthcare professionals today. They show us the data that led them to their conclusions and recommendations. Even second opinions couldn’t change the data, only the possible treatment options.
That’s what this customer wanted. “Just tell me what skills each person on my team needs to work on. And I’ll decide what training will be best. Maybe I’ll even opt for coaching instead of training. Maybe I’ll opt for some suggested reading or an online course. But just tell me what’s impacting their sales performance so that I have a baseline.”
Two years later and Baker Communications uses data with all their clients to help them make better hiring, onboarding, training, and coaching decisions. The company employs a database of over 400 million data points from 2.2 million salespeople in 35,000+ companies covering 200 industries and 153 countries to inform their recommendations of their customers. With a predictive validity of 91%, these sales-specific assessments have changed the way hiring and training are now handled.
If the data tells you to hire a salesperson, that person has a 92% chance of making it to the top half of your sales performers in the first year. If the data tells you not to hire, and you hire that individual anyway, there’s a 74% chance that the person will leave within the first six months.
Those numbers are impressive in an industry that has an annual turnover rate of 34.7%. And as a result, customers are seeing a 62% reduction in turnover rates and an 88% increase in the number of sellers making quota. In a profession where there are no second-place monies, that’s changing company performance significantly. But most importantly, it’s earned Baker Communications that coveted “trusted advisor” role with their customers.
What’s even more impressive is that the team at Baker keeps improving on their process. Their most recent introduction is called Fuel-IQ™, an AI tool that stores all the skill and competency data for every member of the sales team. The tool then creates individualized learning paths based on the discovered strengths and weaknesses of each seller. Depending on the level of the person’s skill gaps, it recommends a range of varied solutions from complete immersion in a topic to just a few key points that will get the person’s performance up quickly.
This eliminates a lot of the time-consuming planning that takes Sales Enablement professionals hours to prepare and creates personalized learning tracks in seconds. It can marry internal training and mentoring programs with vendor training and coaching, books, articles, or even lab exercises to fine-tune each personalized learning path.
The net result is a dramatic reduction in the time it takes to train sellers and get them back into the field, selling and making money for your company. When you’re dealing with million-dollar quota-carrying individuals, every hour out of the area means a loss of $500 in sales based on an average 40-hour work week. And better yet, the customized tracks can be served up anytime and anyplace the salespeople want.
But beyond what we learned from watching how they developed their own trusted advisor relationships with clients, we took away 8 key points from their courseware. As a seller, if you are seen as a trusted advisor by your clients, your account decision-makers will come to you for advice and rely on your expertise when making decisions. Spoiler alert: it’s not easy to become a trusted advisor, but with these 8 tips, you will have a head start over your competition.
By following these tips, and the example set by Baker with their clients, you will be well on your way to becoming a trusted advisor for your clients. Remember, trust is built over time, so be patient and let the relationship develop naturally. Join us in congratulating Baker Communications for being the most trusted company in 2022!
“We are unconditionally committed to your success and pour everything into helping your achieve your goals.”
Read Full Magazine: 10 Most Trustworthy Companies of the Year 2022