Demand-Side Commercial Banking Sales, with Bob Moesta

Bob Moesta, a former keynote speaker at BankOnPurpose and one of the creators of the "Jobs to Be Done" framework, is back on the Purposeful Banker podcast. He joined us to to talk about his new book: "Demand-Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress." We discuss how this concept can be applied to commercial banking sales. 




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Jim Young: Hi and welcome to The Purposeful Banker. The podcast brought to you by Precision Lender, where we discussed the big ideas on the minds of today's best bankers. I'm Jim Young director of content at Precision Lender. And today I'm actually not joined by my usual co-host Dallas Wells. Instead, I have a very special guest Bob Moesta. Bob is co-founder of the Rewired Group it's a design firm in Detroit, Michigan, and in his career, he has developed and launched over 3,500 products and sold everything from design services, software, and houses to consumer electronics and investment services.
But for our commercial banking audience, they may know Bob best from his 2017 presentation at BankOnPurpose, he and his co presenter, then, Chris Speik, they gave a presentation titled no one wants a loan and it was shaped around the principles of the jobs to be done framework. Something you've heard us espouse on this podcast many, many times. And speaking of which Bob was actually a guest on this podcast back in 2017. So he's back again and fresh off the publication of a new book called Demand Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress. We'll be talking about that book and lessons commercial bankers can take from it. So, Bob, that's a long winded intro, but thank you so much for coming back on.
Bob Moesta: Thanks for having me back. I'm excited to speak to the banking community because we need their help now.
Jim Young: And I think they need your help as well here. I find it hard to believe that many of our listeners at this point don't know about jobs to be done, but Bob let's assume that there are some out there that don't can you first start us off by giving us maybe the elevator pitch for what that is and the role it plays in your book?
Bob Moesta: Yeah. Yeah. So, jobs to be done is primarily an innovation framework that I helped to craft with a Harvard Business School professor named Clayton Christianson. I've been using it for just about 30 years and it's the basic premise is that people don't buy products. They hire them to make progress in their life and they hire them to do a job. And so the question is lots of times we end up having people who focus on the product or the service. And what were talking about is from the demand side is like, "Well, what are they going to do with that product or service? And what does progress look like for them?"
And so it's flipping the lens from being so product focused to being actually understanding kind of who, when, where and why. So we can then figure out what to build, how and how much. And so it's that kind of thing where it's literally focusing on the context somebody is in and the outcome that they seek, not necessarily the product that they seek or the service that they seek. The product or service is the thing that assists them to make the progress.
Jim Young: All right. And in some of the stuff I was looking at in advance of this, you designed, as you mentioned that go to market strategy around that buyer's worldview, not a product. And that makes a lot of sense. And I think a lot of people would nod their heads, and say, "Yeah, that makes sense." So, maybe, can you explain sort of the other way?
Bob Moesta: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:03:05] So the book really was at the origin of this is that there's really kind of three underlying premises. I've done seven startups. I've built them and sold them. I went to business school and one of the things I started to realize is the hardest thing of anything that I've ever done is selling. And I started to realize like, "Why are there no sales professors?"
So in 2010 Clay Christianson and I, we sat down and talked about it and said like, why? They have marketing theory and they have marketers, they have finance, they have operations, they have organizational behave- like they have all things, but like why don't they teach sales at business school? Right? That's the first premise. The second thing is when you start to talk to both startups and even established businesses, they literally like somehow sales is frowned upon as some kind of like art and black [inaudible 00:03:55] just these thing that's like kind of messy and icky.
And so for me, it's one of this notion of like, I actually started my first sales job in 1999, almost 20 years ago. And I was selling countertops, as one of my, it was my second startup. And it was one of those things where I sold the Home Depot to the buyer and then I had to sell it to Home Depot Associates, and then we actually ended up having to sell to customers. And so it was this aspect of how do I learn how to sell? And I thought it was a very simple process, right? I just learned the process. I learned the steps, it was all about math. And if I just made enough sales call, I could sell enough product. But you start to realize like, it makes you feel icky. Everybody's a prospect, everybody's got to buy and pushing all the time.
I'm a pretty goals oriented guy and it literally became obsessive. And so I started to realize like, "How do we think about this differently?" And so we started to actually, I've been using this jobs to be done framework, to build new products, but I haven't really used it to frame how to sell. And so where we would talk about the jobs that people are like what's missing in people's lives so I can go build new product to do it. But what I did is we took the jobs to be done framework and said, "Well, how do we actually frame it so we help people buy?"
And what you start to realize is the way we sell is not the way people buy. We think about the symmetry between it, but there's actually a very strict process that we go through. Whether you're buying a pair of tennis shoes, you're literally trying to go get a new house, whether you're trying to buy a business, whatever it is, there's these six phases you go through, right?
And one of them is you have to actually understand the first thought, where does it come from?
And you start to realize that they have to have a struggling moment, that people will just keep doing what they're doing. They'll keep using the bank they've been using, if there's no struggling moment. Right? And then once that's there, they do something called passive looking. This is where they kind of, they don't really look, but they're learning how to actually talk about it so they can figure out whether this is a problem they need to solve. And then they decide to go active. And that active looking is that it's about seeing possibilities, right? And it's about seeing things in a very different way, right? And seeing all the different things, but disconnected.
And then there's this notion of kind of deciding and deciding is about actually making trade-offs. I can have this, but I can't have that. And then once that's locked in place, that's actually where the progress starts. So, everything up to that is almost like in the head and now it's about how they actually get the rubber to hit the road. And so it's first use and then ongoing use and building habits. And so what I realized is that if I can actually help people make progress, I actually don't become pushy because if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. I move on to the next person. And, oh, by the way, they might be in passive looking for awhile and they don't need a loan now, but they might need a loan later. And so part of this is to actually realize that they buy on their own timeline. We don't force them to buy. They decide on their own timeline.
And they [inaudible 00:06:40] ...we got to actually respect where they're at because they convince themselves. And that's really the whole notion of this is how do we actually see sales from the demand side of the world, as opposed to the supply side of the world of, "Hey, I've got a loan who needs a loan?" [crosstalk 00:06:56] I think we said at the conference, we were at BankOnPurpose. It was that whole aspect of like, hey, people don't want a loan. They want a new house. They want to basically expand the business. They want to actually buy something. They want to actually refinance so they can actually expand, like there's other things they want to do. And so it's not the money that's important. It's what they're going to do with the money. And how do we actually understand that, as opposed to, and to be honest, we did a live interview of somebody who is willing to pay more in closing fees and in finance charges because of the situation they were in. And so context creates value and contrast creates meaning.
Jim Young: Then that, though, I guess I wonder when you're a commercial bank salesperson and I do remember this conversation you had with the bank client on stage, to what extent saying if I'm a commercial banker, do I say, "Okay, but by the time they've come to me, they've already identified what their struggling moment is. And my job is simply to do the whole products and features to fit the solve there..."
Bob Moesta: Wow. And that's what I would call is in some cases that you're waiting for them to raise their hand and real demand comes from the struggling moment. And so can you actually help them see the struggling moment that they actually didn't even know you could help with? And so part of this is that in a lot of cases, so for example, one of the things I realized is that people downsizers. So, I built houses for three years, built a thousand homes.
And one of the things that built for was downsizers thinking of like your parents, right? One of the things that actually caused your parents to say, today's the day we got to move or very early go from first thought to passive looking was the fact is when one of their friends had passed away and they had that awkward conversation of like, "We better move because we don't want to actually move. I don't want you to have to move if I'm gone and you don't want to have to move if I'm gone."
That kind of discussion. So I moved my advertising from the real estate section where if they were moving, they were already in the real estate section. I actually moved it to the obituaries and I got a 37% increase in traffic because it was like, "God, I know we got to do this, but I'm just not ready." And so we're able to move upstream and actually help them make that progress by actually understanding why they needed to move then. So part of this is first thought is so critical. Right? And to be honest, what I've found is, to date have only found four ways to actually create a first thought for people. One is to ask them a question and by the way, don't answer it.
A lot of times marketing will say, "Oh, yeah, can't sleep at night. I got a new mattress. Oh, I don't need a new mattress, but I can't sleep." If you just said, "Hey, can't sleep?" And "I know, I know I can't sleep well." It's like, all right, let it fester with them because the festering is what gives them the energy to figure out what the problem really is.
The second is to actually tell them a story that's something very similar to what happened to them. Oh, these people are trying to do this and do this and do that. And they had this going on and like, "Oh, my gosh, that's me." You start to tell stories that are very close to the progress that they want to make. The third way is you give them a new metric. My favorite is well, people used to say, "Well, you need to lose weight." We'd use weight as the metric. Now the metric is steps.
So all of a sudden steps are like, "Oh, I can do something about that. How many steps do you? Oh, I don't know how many steps I got to get, so I'm going to measure my step. For me to be healthy, I got to know my steps." Right. Or the other thing is you just state the obvious, "Why is the TV so loud?" Right? It's these things that literally create that space and not answering it, but helping them try to figure out how to answer it. And when it's something that resonates with them, it literally it's like the pit of your stomach where you start to feel it.
And you start to actually realize, like "God, I think I got to do something about this." That's what passive looking is. So first thought is about actually creating the space in the brain for solutions to fall into. If they don't actually have a struggling moment and they don't have the space, whatever you say, bounces straight off them. They can't even hear it. My analogy is in the grocery store, there's 27,000 new products a year in a grocery store, 27,000 new skews. And the reality is the majority of people see less than 50 because they're not looking for something new.
Jim Young: Yeah, you're right. That's absolutely true. And I guess that's one thing I was going to ask about is that particularly when it comes to commercial banks, a lot of times when they're having a conversation, they get a client comes in and say, "Here's what I need. I need this from you." And we used to have someone at our company would talk about the XY problem, because I would come to him and he was a IT guy. And I would say, "I need this." And he's like, "It sounds like you've got an XY problem here", which is you coming for a solution to a problem that's not really your problem. And I guess, how do you do that sort of thing in particularly with a banker, when people come in and they sort of think they know what your products are. So, they say, I need you to get me this one. And we're going to now haggle over the price. But maybe that's not [crosstalk 00:11:32]
Bob Moesta: I don't think people actually know what the price is. Here's the interesting part is that they'll say that buying is very, very rational. It's the number of points and how, what the terms are. It's like we have a process and we get, and when you actually interview people to figure out how the choices they really made, people are actually willing to pay more because of certain things, they're actually willing to take a higher rate for different reasons. And it's one of those things where it's, nobody's willing to say that upfront, but when you actually understand the trade offs that they're willing to make, to say like, "Well, I'm willing to pay a few more points. I'm willing to increase my closing costs, so I actually don't have to pay as much long-term, or to be honest, I'm actually willing to do a longer term thing. So I don't have to pay it off and I can pay off early if I want to, but I don't have to be strapped with the cashflow."
So you start to realize that the tradeoffs that they're willing to make in that step of deciding is way different what they say they want and what they really want. And so part of this is they have to discover for themselves what they want. And when they come to you the first time, to be honest, they might look like they know what they want, but I guarantee they don't. Right.
Because at some point in time, it's kind of like, "I want..." Like when you look for a car, "I want this, I want this, I want this, I want this", well, I have this one on the lot. You're only going to be like, "Well, okay, fine. I'll take that, but you'd make trade-offs because it's there."
Jim Young: Right.
Bob Moesta: Right. And so this is the thing is what people don't understand is like, we talk about the ideal customer and the ideal journey. And none of that really exists. There's all these trade offs that people make along the way. And we need to actually uncover them because we're trying to actually break our back to actually be good at everything, which makes us really good at nothing.
Jim Young: Yeah. That's a very interesting way of putting it in. Particularly, again, I know this one that the bankers can relate to with, they have a ocean of products to offer, et cetera. Typically, the feeling is they have to be able to be everything to everyone.
Bob Moesta: The other thing is that, to be honest, it's very much like the camera business where... Like the camera business, but often basically they said, "Oh, we're going to make better cameras so people can take better pictures. And we're going to talk about f-stop and we're going to talk about shutter speed. And we're going to talk about focal lights. And we're going to talk about megapixels with all these different things." And the thing is, is that, to be honest, I was a horrible photographer and I just wanted to take clear pictures, but I had to learn all this language to get into that market. And the reality is Apple comes along and Lily says, "Here, I'm going to put it on the back of your phone, so, oh, by the way, when you want to take a picture, you can be there. And so you don't have to carry all the equipment. And two is I'm going to make it one button and, oh, by the way, now you're a great photographer."
So it's not about having a great camera. It's about being a great photographer. And so the camera companies left themselves wide open. And so if we're waiting for the customer to come to us and for them to learn our language, the reality is the number of people who actually want money and want to be able to grow their business and do different things with it. I think there's what we call non-consumption people who want to do things, but don't actually know how. And my thing is, is if you're just selling the money, the money is like the mayonnaise on the sandwich. It's not the reason why they're buying it, but it makes it good.
Jim Young: I'm curious too, with the way you've described this and sort of the way it sort of turns a lot of what we think we know about sales kind of on its head, if you're a bank or any company, and you're the person, let's say, you're the person in charge of hiring salespeople, what are you looking for, then, in a sales person besides this sort of, I'm assuming it's not the stereotypical guy, who's high energy and crushing it and all the various things you typically associate with, with the [crosstalk 00:15:04]
Bob Moesta: some cases, it is because some of the best salespeople listen and they're empathetic and they're problem solvers, right? The thing is, is what's happened is somehow we've equated that there's a standard process. There's one way to do it. That there's one pitch. That there's one way. And that we trying to find robots to be order-takers. That, to me, is like when you find people to follow the process, that's typically not how sales works or buying works. If you actually talk to somebody about the best buying experience they ever had, they typically will always tell you, "Well, they weren't the salesperson, they were my account manager. They're the person who actually had my back." And when you talk about the worst experience they ever had, they have typically we'll call them a sales person. And so to be honest, the thing you want the salespeople to have is empathy.
The ability to ask good questions, the ability to know the business that they're actually selling to and to care about the clients enough, to understand what progress are they really going to make. If you're trying to just sell them to burn and churn and just, let's just get more sales and not care about the actual implementation of things. I believe that that kind of sales is just it's on its way to extinction. I mean, this is how the mattress businesses get... Casper literally builds an online platform that allows you and asks you 40 questions about your sleeping habits. That literally turns into a billion dollar market when everybody else is literally still building stores.
Jim Young: Yeah. I want to just ask you one final question, sort of in the researching, I mean, again, this is a framework that you have, I'm going to say philosophy. I don't know if that's the right phrase to use, but that you've worked in for years, but in turning to write this book, was there something in the process of looking at it from a sales angle that you learned, or that was something different for you?
Bob Moesta: The interesting part to me is I've always tried to use it to go build what's next. But what I realized is that this framework is as powerful to help you become a better consumer. So, for example, when you go buy something after reading this book, the number one comment I always get is like, "God, this is really powerful for my business, but I've become a better consumer." Like I'm going to buy something new and it's like, I just bought [inaudible 00:17:12] and it's like, "Why did I do that?" What was going on in my life that said I needed that. And what was it replacing? What progress were I trying to make, what was this mostly about? And you start to realize that a lot of times I can catch myself and make better trade-offs and actually do the right things. Because I actually am thinking about the forces and the timeline.
Jim Young: That's really interesting, because I actually had it in my notes. One of these things was about me. I put in there, "Why don't I want Siri?" And in part of it was, is like, I can't quite figure out what the problem is I'm supposed to [crosstalk 00:17:44] solve.
Bob Moesta: So here's the other thing. What's something you've been looking at for a very long time, like, "Oh, my gosh, I've been looking and look", but I haven't pulled the trigger on it. And you got to be able to actually start to understand them. What's the anxiety that's either holding you back. Is there something there that's just not... Like, it's just doesn't seem right yet, or there's something that at the same time, it's like... So, for example, I worked on a product that helped people understand, like when you buy a used car, it's kind of like, "Oh, there might be another one that comes on the market soon enough." TrueCar is that app that actually helps you go like, look. Look at TrueCar. It's going to tell you everything that's in the area, tell you everything that's sold. So you can make the decision in the moment. It's not always going to be there tomorrow kind of thing.
Jim Young: Right. Yeah. Alrighty. Well, and again, Bob, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Again, the reminder that the title of this book is Demand Side Sales, 101, stop selling and help your customers make progress, and Bob it's available on Amazon, right?
Bob Moesta: Yep. Yep. Actually, I got it to be a number one bestseller, which is great. So, I'm in small business and sales and selling techniques. And to be honest, I was impressed I got to like 41 on the overall business and money category, which is pretty good.
Jim Young: That is fantastic. And obviously cannot recommend it highly enough. It is, again, there are lessons here, as Bob said, for sales of any business industry and obviously for commercial bankers, but also for people looking to buy and getting sort of into the shoes of how the buyer thinks is invaluable. Again, Bob, thanks so much.
Bob Moesta: Thanks for having me.
Jim Young: Thanks again for listening to the podcast. If you want to listen to more of them or check out more of our content, visit the resource page at Go over to our homepage to learn more about the company behind the content. If you like what you've been hearing, make sure to subscribe to the feed in Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Stitcher. We love to get ratings and feedback on any of those platforms until next time, this is Jim young for Bob Moesta and you've been listening to The Purposeful Banker. [inaudible 00:19:40]

About the Author

Jim Young

Jim Young, Director of Content at PrecisionLender, is an award-winning writer with experience in a range of positions in media and marketing, from reporter to website editor to content marketer. Throughout his career Jim has focused on the story – how to find it, how to understand it, and how best to share it with others. At PrecisionLender, he manages the many ways in which the company shares its philosophy on banking and the power of relationships. Jim graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University and holds a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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