UX of Sales - IA Summit 2014

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This session is about how the business development and sales process can be done by anyone who has a strong command of user experience and IA skills to sell UX focused projects. Most people don’t learn this in school. Most designers, IAs, and other creative team members barely have insight into how to sell projects because it’s often another role like a sales person (in agencies) or a product manager (in the corporation) doing that part. We will show you how the UX skills you already have create a strong foundation to easily step into the role of sales, whether selling a project to a client or within the corporation.

Text of UX of Sales - IA Summit 2014

PowerPoint Presentation

Presented by Erin Malone and James Young of Tangible UX, LLC.


We want to start with a story about how we used to do our sales process.

The phone would ring or Id get an email. they would need some work.

I would ask one question - what do they need?

Client was always in a hurry and wanted a price right away. Always last minute and they were under a deadline. They knew they needed that UX thing.

So wed chat a bit - mostly with us doing a lot of talking about us, about past work that was similar and then some rough costs.

At this point the client is in control. And we have no control.


Then we would Continue to prove how smart we are by showing our portfolio of work. Some capabilities laundry list.

Show all successful solutions for other people to prove we had the design chops.


Then quickly we would jump into a proposal.

Work with the list of what the prospect told us they needed.

Use lots of big words

Lots of info about process and deliverables.

We would work fast

Because the client wants it ASAP right?


Then Wed email it away.

Yay we met their deadline.

They must know we are wonderful and deadline driven people. Right?

We showed how awesome we were

They should be getting back to us right away. right?

But then we would wait.


And wait.

We send an email or two and wouldnt hear back.

or even call and leave voice mail. .Nothing.

Try to go back to person that sent us a lead to see what was going on.

Then we might get mad.

We didn't know why. We were confused.

So what happened here?

Analagous to designers putting out products without understanding their customer needs.

We were putting together proposals without understanding our clients needs.


Internal situations have similar issues

how many times been put off of doing a project internally that you know would be valuable to the company

You have all had to pitch an idea to your boss only to have it go nowhere

or the proposal to get more head count

The sales process that we are going to talk about works the same way internally as externally


So back to our issues of sales gone wrong.

something had to change. We were working too hard for too little turnout.

The rejection of silence was demoralizing.

We did not have enough time for sales.


We tried a few things.

We hired a couple of sales professionals to help us but they werent very effective for out business.

We submitted more proposals faster in hopes that our hit rate would go up.

We prayed.


We tried a few things.

We hired a couple of sales professionals to help us but they werent very effective for out business.

We submitted more proposals faster in hopes that our hit rate would go up.

We prayed.


Finally we hired a sales coach

rather than someone to do the job, we hired someone to teach us how to be more effective.

After all most of our leads and inquiries came from our network and referrals.

We knew the most about our process and our leads. We wanted to be able to capitalize on that and it makes sense for us to do this.


She started by talking about the basic principles of consultative sales.

During our first workshop with our coach we had an epiphany.

This is the UX process - We know how to do this.

Its ethnography.


We know this, we live this, we breath this


Understand the client true needs

define who buyers are and what to propose to them

test the proposal with the buyer

refine it with the buyer

deliver it


So lets break it down

give you some tools you can take back with you and use right away.

Discovery -

The initial contact with a prospect involves a series of sales questions.

This is the contextual inquiry portion of our program.


Understand the desison funnel

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION: the customer becomes aware of a problem2.


NARROWING THE OPTIONS: begins to eliminate possibilites

In first step bad sales people we did a lot of talking and giving solutions

We now spent time asking questions, listening and assuming nothing

Your customers are exploring many options of ways they can go

If you move too fast to suggest a solution then you close down the opportunity to explore some of the options with them


Why do people buy

People make buying decisions NOT so much because they understand the product

but because they believe you truly understand them and their needs.

They have what is called the resistance window closed tightly

prevents info from entering. your proposal begins to sound like a pitch

Once believe you understand their needs then the window opens

That is when they allow you to sell.

Same with internal folks you are selling to

So how do we get the window of resistance to be opened up.

Its simple use good careful questioning

James - with Erin interjecting

This phrase is the money phrase and worth the expense you paid to get to the IA summit

When we start a sales call we always start with this phrase

Say it all without breathing or stammering

Erin: Says the phrase.


Whether or not it's appropriate for us to do business together at this time, I don't know. Either way is fine with me,

This phrase sets up the relationship. It relieves some of the stress on both sides because it dimishes the master/servant relationship that is inherent in sales


however, we can determine that very quickly

This sets up the advantages of what you are about to propose


if I could ask you a few key questions. Would that be OK?

Now you will get permission to ask the questions

Now you control the floor. The client is going to still tell you what they need to tell you but you can now get the info you need from them in a very natural way.

And everyone is put at ease with the conversation that you are about to have.


Lets talk about 4 categories of smart sales questions

Background questions, Challenge questions, Impact questions, and value questions

Each set of questions leads into the next

and allows you get to the clients true needs


The Background Questions

Tell me about your company?

What is your role?

What can you tell me about your growth plans?

Who is you primary customer base?


Challenge questions:

What are you doing now in terms of design and research?

How is that working?

What do you know about your users?

What do you not know or wish you knew?

What makes you nervous about your understanding or lack of info about them?

How is this affecting your roadmap?


Impact Questions:

What outcomes are you looking for?

How do you see these challenges effect your bandwidth?

What are the financial implications if you do this or if you don't?


The most important questions to get to

Value questions:

If this project is done, who would care about it most?

Who would be affected by this most?

How would it affect your team?

How are you going to measure the results?

How will it affect the product/site?

How will this affect your companies revenue?


During the conversation you are looking for these phrases.

Looking for, Need, Interested in, Want, Wish, Would Like.

Whenever you hear that, the are expressing a need. You want to highlight that in your notes because you are going to need to quickly refer to it.

After the value questions you need to quickly summarize what you heard

Get confirmation and adjust as needed.

look through your notes quickly and pull out the items that are highlighted as needs


and then say So if I understand correctly, your top 3 needs are

this isnt a list of requirements

this is deeper and more personal needs

This is very important because at this time the resistance window opens up

I can actually sense when this happens. Even over the phone

They allow you to start selling to them

Because they now BELIEVE that you truly understand THEIR NEEDS


So some tips while you are asking these questions -

Its ok to mix them around depending on how they are answering. We start with background but then jump around.

Silence is golden. They are thinking. They need the time to work through. Let the space breath and they will end up filling it, often with valuable information.

Do not linger on the background, especially with execs. Get into the challenge and value questions

Take notes.

Laptop is for the lap if in person. You want to be able to have face time. Build a relationship.

If possible, do in pairs so one person can take notes and the other can just engage in the conversation.

Erin with James interjecting

Everyone hates the budget dance.

The budget understanding is critical to being able to fully / effectiv