#044 Curious Conversions with Charlie Whyman
Unveiling the Power of Commercial Curiosity
Guest & Host
Charlie Whyman & Thomas Miltschuh
Welcome to Speak Revenue, the podcast where we emphasize that revenue is not just a goal; it's a result. In this show, we shift our focus from the output to the inputs. We engage in conversations with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their remarkable journeys. Our mission? To uncover the true root causes of success. Join us in this episode of Speak Revenue as we unravel the secrets behind commercial curiosity with the insightful Charlie Whyman. Delve into the world of asking the right questions, understanding buyer journeys, and crafting a seamless commercial operating system. Discover the essence of profitable sales beyond mere revenue and gain valuable insights from Charlie's six years of business experience. Get ready for a journey that transforms your approach to sales and marketing.
November 23rd, 2023
Thomas Miltschuh: Welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. It's a result! But a result of what? In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the inputs. We speak to sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their journeys. Join us on our quest to uncover and learn the root causes of success. Let's unpack what worked for them and what didn't. Today with our guest, Charlie Wyman. Welcome, Charlie. Thanks for joining the show. Great to have you.
Charlie Whyman: Oh, thank you for inviting me. It's great to be here.
Thomas Miltschuh: Awesome. So let us know. Let the audience know. Who are you? What do you do? Why are you so successful?
Charlie Whyman: Who am I? So yeah, my name is Charlie Wyman. I've been in business for just over six years now, and I speak on commercial curiosity. So my business is about speaking at events, running workshops, and sort of coaching and mentoring people. The whole goal around commercial curiosity is to help businesses get more sales from their marketing efforts, but focusing on profitable sales rather than just revenue. So it's really interesting to be here.
Thomas Miltschuh: Commercial curiosity. Exciting topic. What are you focusing on regarding the buyer journey? Is it rather marketing sales or customer success?
Charlie Whyman: It bridges all three of those disciplines, to be honest because I have a, or rather, I've developed a commercial operating system over the years that basically links together marketing, sales, and customer service. So that means that every activity that the business does from a commercial standpoint drives other results throughout the business. So that there's no kind of gaps or there's no drop off points. And then all activity is contributing to something bigger and for the wider goal of the company. It is probably worth noting. I studied engineering, so I accidentally fell into a marketing role having set up a business years ago. And for me, sales and marketing is a problem to be solved. So I've just always been on this really curious path to figure out why do businesses have so many problems from a sales and marketing standpoint, and what can we do to solve that, make it easier and look at it from a bigger picture.
Thomas Miltschuh: Awesome. It's really impressive that you've so much. Develop your own operating system. I'd like to talk about that in a minute, but maybe I'd like to understand first: What do you understand under commercial curiosity exactly?
Charlie Whyman: So commercial curiosity is just all about asking really good questions to look at what's really going on here, rather than just looking at surface level problems and surface level solutions. A lot of people in commercial roles are under a significant amount of pressure to perform, to succeed, and to drive revenue in the business, and don't always give problems enough time to really understand what's going on so that the solution that's implemented or being invested in can actually drive real results for the business. So it's all about asking questions.
Thomas Miltschuh: That's really interesting. So sometimes it's not enough time to really care about those things. Is it also a question of personality or character? How do we handle it if people are just not used to asking the right questions and being curious enough about their clients?
Charlie Whyman: I think one of, one of the biggest challenges is that as children, we are naturally curious,
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah.
Charlie Whyman: But at some point in our development, we're told to stop asking questions or we lose that natural curiosity and it becomes a lot harder. Whereas when I was at school I was the disruptive kid in class because I asked too many questions. And I was always trying to figure out why we were doing what we were doing. Like why were we learning the things that we were being taught? And for me, I couldn't understand why so much time and emphasis was being put on teaching us things that, for me, I didn't understand the point of. And if I knew why we were learning those things, I would've put a lot more effort into. Learning those things, and for me, a missing piece of the puzzle with a lot of businesses is that if team members and employees aren't curious, it's because they're so used to being told what to do…
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah.
Charlie Whyman: …or they're not given the freedom or the autonomy, or they're not trusted enough to ask questions.
Thomas Miltschuh: That's really interesting. Reminds me of the topic of emotional intelligence as well. Yeah. So it consists of different subtopics, but that's it. Something over the years, you get this. Directed or get used to some behaviors and forget about emotional intelligence eventually.
Charlie Whyman: Oh I work with, not exclusively, but I work with a lot of engineers, scientists and techie people. I think because I studied engineering I understand these types of people really well. I am one of these people, and I think there's a misconception that we are all given this natural ability to empathize with others. When the reality is that we're not all capable of empathizing with others, but what we are capable of doing is asking questions and exploring to and seeking to understand something from somebody else's point of view. And in commercial roles. That's what it's all about. The more successful you are in a commercial role. Is all to do with your ability to ask questions and understand where your customers are in that buyer journey. Understand what your customer's problems and challenges are, and how that fits into the context of where they want to go. So what their goals and aspirations are. So for me, you can teach empathy. There are actually three different types of empathy. You can teach empathy, but those emotional skills are what differentiates us from robots and AI tools. And, we could go down a big rabbit hole talking about that, but in a commercial role, for me the more we can empathize, the more we can ask questions, and the higher our drive to understand our customers, the more successful you're gonna be.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah, I still see the opposite in many cases at many companies, but not sure if there's a shift already to be more curious and to focus on the right questions. Why do you think it seems to be so clear, but why do you think, the approach is really still very different and in several cases.
Charlie Whyman: I think some businesses have gotten away with it for a period of time, so they haven't needed to be more curious. They're, what they're selling in the way that they're selling it has worked for X amount of time. So it's that rule. If it's not broken , why fix it? But then there's an argument to say how protected are they for the future if they're not being curious and understanding, What are the customers driven by? What are they interested in? What are they looking at for the future? Is that company going to be present for much longer or is it going to just be another news story like the Kodaks and the Blockbusters of the world? I think we can never rely on current success. For the future. I think if we're not curious as to how we can grow, how we can develop, and how we can better serve our customers, then I wonder how much of a future that business has or those businesses have.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah, it can be really dangerous if you feel too comfortable because business is running maybe for years or decades. But if it makes you so comfortable that you're not even really interested in what drives your clients. What? Why do they really work with you? Can be a pitfall. Yeah. Very interesting. Let's elaborate a bit on your operating model. How does it look like maybe starting from marketing, going through, or from marketing, so going to, through sales to upsell.
Charlie Whyman: So it's a very simple model, the beauty of it. bEcause I think I accidentally fell into a marketing role. What I found was that whenever I spoke to marketers, experts in marketing, strategy, consultants, agencies, they. Over complicated things. And I found it quite ironic because having come from an engineering background and worked for engineering businesses is like they were telling us that we were being too complicated in our marketing whilst also coming across as very complicated themselves. So again, because I'm so curious to understand why we do the things that we're doing, I started to put together my own operating system. And also because of working with engineering and scientific businesses the managing director, the CFO, the operating officer, the technical director, these types of people don't care about marketing. They don't understand it. So if you start to talk to them in marketing speak, you've lost them. They're not interested. So you have to find a way to communicate in their language so that they understand why you're doing what you're doing and how that fits into the bigger picture of the business. So this commercial operating system, essentially it fits on one page and it starts at the top with what are your marketing channels? Are you using networking? Are you using events and trade shows? Are you speaking? Are you using pr? What are those channels? And it's really good because you can score them out of 10. And I like to do this without. The data. So it's a bit of a controversial
Thomas Miltschuh: All right.
Charlie Whyman: It, but just as a sort of gut feel, how do you feel like each of those marketing channels are performing? Are they an 8 out of 10 or maybe they're a 3 out of 10? How brought everybody into the success of one of those channels? And then you take it a level down and start looking at, okay, we are using these marketing channels to generate curiosity in our market, to build that audience, but we want to turn that curiosity into action and that action is a lead or an inquiry. So how are we as a business generating those leads and inquiries? Are we offering a lead magnet? Are we asking people to ring us? Are we asking people to fill out a form on our website? And again, how well are those different actions performing? And I worked with a business years ago and they were like, we're just not getting any website leads. There were lots of other problems with their marketing, but they were fixated on the fact that they weren't getting any website leads. So I said to them, when was the last time you tested the form on your website? Because it didn't work. It wasn't a case that people were probably trying to contact them on their website, but it wasn't possible because it didn't work. Little things like that just prompt you to think, okay, if it's not working, is it a technical problem or is there something bigger going on here? So once you've generated the action from curiosity you've generated your lead. In an ideal world, all leads would turn into sales. But let's face it, that's not the reality. So we've got, then it splits into two. So we've got the leads that turn into sales inquiries. Then you've got the leads that are not yet ready to buy. So for those leads that are not yet ready to buy, what's that process? How are we gonna keep that curiosity alive and what are we doing to then feed those leads back through to sales at some point? Could be an email newsletter, it could be a sequence of emails nurturing somebody along a specific journey. It could be a series of webinars like there, there's lots of different ways that you can do that, but if you map out that process, it just shows you. Where you're sending people so that every action has a next step planned. And then from the sales side of things, and you have your sales process. And again, the beauty of this is that you can look and see. Okay. You have a discovery call on the phone, is that then leading into a proposal? Do you then need to have another sales call to close the deal, handle objections, do whatever? What's the negotiation process? What's the invoicing process? What do you do with those leads that drop off at any point during that stage? Then once you've got that customer again, it doesn't stop. Then once you've got that customer, where are you sending them then? Do those customers know what else you can help them with? Are you nurturing those customers and do you have a process to keep in touch with them, ask them what their challenges are, ask them what they need, to keep that conversation going. So when you map out into a very simple system like that, you can basically give a red -amber green measure for each of the stages of that process you might find. You've got a few stages missing because you are at an early stage, you don't have the resources for whatever reason. But that's okay because then at least you know that you've got those stages missing and you can plan on adding them in at some stage. And I always recommend looking at things every 12 weeks because then you understand what's working well, what's not working well, what are the learnings and then also It gives you the opportunity to say okay, this 12 week period we're going to focus on this part of the process and we're gonna make it better. The next 12 weeks we're then gonna focus on this part of the process. And one of the reasons why this system is so important is that I used to work as a CMO for a company in the commercial shipping industry, and I was originally brought in to launch a telemedicine system…
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay.
Charlie Whyman: …which was, commercial shifts. Didn't know about telemedicine at the time. It was so new. It was very much an MVP model, and the goal was to generate leads and get some free demos sorted so we can get some case studies, we can prove that the product worked and that it was saving lives. Yeah it wasn't an easy task. However, we generated 200 leads. From the marketing efforts that we did, we'd invested money in this marketing, but the sales team weren't able to close one free demo. So it's just by looking at this process, I can then have the conversation with the sales director to say, I'm not investing any more money. Into this, until you can give me feedback from customers as to why they are not going ahead with a free demo or why those leads are not converting, because those leads met the exact criteria that you'd given me in terms of ideal customer profile.
Thomas Miltschuh: Sounds on a process level it's really important to define clear entry and exit criteria per process step.
Charlie Whyman: Yes. And it's, again, as an engineer for me, I love it because it's logical. You can fit it on one page. It's easy to explain. You can show it to somebody else, and it doesn't take you hours to explain. It's quick and easy to understand. There's a resistance from some people, who would probably say they're more creative than logical. And there's a discussion about that separately because engineers typically are very creative, but just in a different sort of discipline. But where I believe that is actually . If you have the systems and processes to take care of the day-to-day stuff, the mundane stuff, the things that need to happen in order to keep things ticking along, it then actually frees up your mind to be more creative and to give you the time and the mental energy to think of new ideas and think of new campaigns and other things so that you're not like, wasting energy, thinking about the things that you do on a daily basis, or things that you do all the time.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. It takes some time. It's even possible creativity can be achieved by anyone actually. It's the question how you structure it? I think it's not really maybe some people are more creative than other people, but I think anyone can be creative to some extent, but it needs, maybe also in this case, a quick small framework for it. If you haven't done it.
Charlie Whyman: Putting together a framework is a creative exercise. You've got to think of the steps and you've got to put something together. But I think there's a misconception that creativity is to do with the arts. Drawing, painting, music, bands, things like that. Because I Think I went through the first 30 something years of my life believing I wasn't creative, when actually I'm very creative. I'm just not like musically gifted or, I'm just not, like a dancer or a painter or an artist. But, I can come up with some really creative campaign ideas. I can create intricate systems, processes, things like that. And I can solve problems.
Thomas Miltschuh: Nice. I think in some cases creativity might be confused with…
Charlie Whyman: Yeah.
Thomas Miltschuh: …chaos, but it's different. You've talked about complexity. Do you all regularly see companies adding too much complexity to processes at a too early stage, too early company stage?
Charlie Whyman: Not really. I found that systems like this seem to be adopted too late. But I think as well, one of the challenges for early stage companies and startups is that they don't have the money to invest in strategic marketing talent. Because what they need is somebody to be on the ground implementing and doing and doing that. But you rarely find people that have the skills, the years of experience and the strategic capability, to think about how everything fits together, to think about the systems of processes. They just don't have access to that capability early on. So it's just a case of firefighting, Throwing stuff at the wall, seeing what sticks and just working at a million miles an hour. Whereas I would argue that, you can, it's like I used to do a lot of fractional CMO work where I would then go in and help them with that system and that process and mentor the marketing manager and help them with it. I think it's that like early stage businesses and startups build these systems to start with because, but keep them simple. I think that's the point. Keep them simple because then you can be agile. You can start swapping and changing things, but it's only when you actually have a look and think I tried that it didn't work, but why didn't it work? Use that learning into the next thing that you do, rather than just going, oh, it didn't work. It must be the channel, like the LinkedIn algorithm's broken or that event was the wrong event. I think a lot of people are really afraid of asking themselves the hard questions around, is there something I could have done differently to have changed the outcome of that event or that campaign or that situation?
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah, I think it really makes sense to take on a process level as early as possible, because if you are too late, maybe you have already scaled a failure. So you need to make sure as you, as a company grows and scale up business you don't scale bad processes. It needs to be developed and you need to be aware of them.
Charlie Whyman: Exactly. And I think so. It is that bad, if you put bad data into a system, you're going to get bad data outta that system. So that extra care and attention that you can put at the start of the process just means that you can be more resourceful, you can leverage your assets more, so you can achieve more with less. And again, I think it's that I've worked with businesses that have spent significant amounts of money on marketing and it's not resulted in anything because they've gone into it too quickly, or they've let it run for too long without asking those important questions, or they've kept it at surface level questions or in some cases as well, especially if the business doesn't have marketing expertise. Within it, it doesn't challenge agencies and external people that are helping them with the marketing. I remember when I was at the start of my career, I was afraid of looking stupid because I wasn't an expert in marketing, but my gut instincts were telling me this isn't right. Like the, there's something wrong here, but. It didn't take me long to challenge the assumption and to ask stupid questions, but I remember that feeling to start with, and I was like I'm not an expert here. What do I know? I can't ask them? And I find that in a lot of businesses I've worked with over the years, there's this fear of asking for help or there's this fear of challenging or asking questions because you don't have that expertise.
Thomas Miltschuh: And it's not necessary. Yeah, a quote comes to mind. I think it's from Alex Hermosi. Not sure if you know him, but the quote is: "If you're afraid, actually, you are not afraid. And you are afraid of what people think of you, or might think of you."
Charlie Whyman: Yeah. Also, to take it a step up as well. I think I have processes and systems for everything. So I have a system, it's like a self-coaching system. It's called Clear the Air. And it's when things don't work or if you need to get unstuck, you need to clear the air. So it is to ask yourself, what are you avoiding, what are you ignoring, and what are you reacting to? Usually when you start to explore those three, you avoid things because of a fear around how you appear both to yourself or how you appear to others. You ignore things like market intelligence or signs and signals from your audience, or positive affirmations or things like that because of a identity challenge or your belief system is in
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. Okay.
Charlie Whyman: And then reacting to is usually reacting to things rather than being proactive and responding to things because you don't have a proper plan or you don't believe in the plan that you've got.
Thomas Miltschuh: Oh, that sounds,
Charlie Whyman: it's only when we understand those fears that we can actually move forwards with stuff.
Thomas Miltschuh: Sounds like we should record another episode on this topic.
Charlie Whyman: Yeah,
Thomas Miltschuh: Awesome.
Charlie Whyman: I did a keynote talk at a marketing event in April because they'd asked me to come and do one of the talks I normally deliver about getting more sales from your marketing efforts. And I asked them if I could do something different because. What happens at a lot of conferences is that people write copious amounts of notes. They go away feeling inspired, feeling motivated, but then that fizzles out and. More often than not, they know what they need to do before they've even come to that conference. So the real question, the real problem is why are they not doing the things they know they need to do? Why are we and I put myself in this as well, why are we always seeking more education, more coaching, more insight, more expertise, when really we know what we need to do?
Thomas Miltschuh: Such an awesome topic. I think that leads me perfectly to my last question. Maybe having a look back at five years younger Charlie, what would you say is a lesson learned you, you would. The audience would like to know.
Charlie Whyman: Focus on what you want to do, what you believe is the right thing to do, and do not let anybody else influence what you're doing. Because everybody has their own way of doing things, and if you don't agree with it, that's okay.
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay. Nice. I think we definitely should do a next episode on exactly this topic. But for now we are at the end of the episode. Thank you so much, Charlie Wyman for joining us today. And sharing such valuable insights. Huge shout out to all our listeners, your support means the world to us. Remember to check out our website at speakrevenue.com for full transcript and additional resources. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you go for your listening needs. It really helps get the word out. Also follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram or on YouTube. We'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay curious and keep listening.