Tom Searcy- Who You Know or What You Know in Sales?


Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Tom Searcy.


About the interviewee 


Tom Searcy is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and the foremost expert in large account sales. His methods of unlocking explosive growth were developed through years of real-world success. By the age of 40, Searcy had led four corporations, growing them each from revenues of less than $10 million to greater than $100 million, and in the last case from startup to greater than $200 million; each in less than four years. This growth was organic, and achieved without buying, selling or merging any of the four corporations. Searcy was able to grow these companies through a large account sales system he developed and implemented.
Since then, Searcy founded Hunt Big Sales, a fast-growth consultancy and thought leadership organization. With Searcy’s systems, Hunt Big Sales clients have landed more than $7.5 billion in new sales with 190 of the Fortune 500 companies, including 3M, Disney, Chase Bank, International Paper, AT&T, Apple and hundreds more.



Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).  


Headquartered in Fishers, Indiana, Hunt Big Sales is a fast-growth sales consultancy and sales process company that provides CEOs who are unsatisfied with their growth rates a proven process that doubles their sales conversion rate, doubles the size of their average sale and doubles the rate in which they double the size of their company. Hunt Big Sales has a current staff of 7 along with 10 consultants that teach the Hunt Big Sales methodologies.


What type and size of companies do you have as clients?


We have clients that range between $10 to $500 in various industries, including: precision manufacturing, healthcare, professional services, construction and information technology.


What comes to mind when you see this topic?


It’s a false choice because it is both. However, there is a big shift occurring. Companies are allowing fewer relationship-driven purchases to be made. Processes including RFPs, procurement driven competitive comparisons and on-line auctions are increasingly used to diminish the value of “who you know.” Companies who are making buying decisions are seeking knowledgeable providers who can help them navigate the future. Where the overlap occurs between who you know versus what you know is in the area of trust. Trust occurs because of many elements and the personal element is one of those. Effective sales people are always expanding their sphere of influence in prospects and customers. In the past, this often occurred through time spent with those decision-makers at events, meals and one-on-one. That is impeded now. It is in moments that sales people and selling organizations demonstrate unique insight that decision-makers develop trust and a sense of value around “what you know.”


What are the best practices when it comes to this issue?


The best practices for dealing with the “what you know” part of sales now include:

1) Develop expertise in your customer’s industry. In the past, our focus in selling was on knowing our solution better than anyone else. We then asked questions to identify intersections of the buyer’s needs with our solution. In the current market, buyer’s are looking for you to guide them in their own industry as to how your solution gains them advantage or marketshare over their competitors.

2) Attain credentials in your area of expertise. Buyer’s are looking to buy from the best company led by the best people on industry issues of their own industry. By writing on topics, speaking at conferences and contributing to online executive conversations regarding relevant topics, you establish your credibility.

3) Seek to be disruptive, not competitive. Even the simplest solution, properly framed and presented, can create disruptive opportunities for buyers for their marketplace. If it can’t be framed or presented in that way, then you do not need sales people. You are a commodity and you should shift your spend to ease of purchase efforts and lowest price.


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