When your selling to someone you want to make them famous - Talk Marketing 029 - Robbie Bhatti

When your selling to someone you want to make them famous – Talk Marketing 029 – Robbie Bhatti

Hello there, my name is Martin Henley, this is The Effective Marketing Company YouTube channel, and this is, I think we’re up to episode number 28 of my Talk Marketing series. If you’ve spent any time here at all, you will know that I am on a mission to support you by giving you everything you need to be successful in your business. For me, there’s only one way to be successful in your business that’s through your sales and marketing. So not only am I here, giving you everything you could possibly need, I’m also dragging in everyone I can find, can convince, to draw from them everything they know as well. So today’s guest is a techie turned to Delivery Manager, turn sales manager Business Development Director. He’s been customer facing now for 10 years. Currently, he is accelerating business growth through data driven digital transformation as Business Development Director for Softelligence. He was referred to us by Ben Bennett, who tells me that he is an amazing networker, and hilariously funny, so no pressure whatsoever – today’s guest is Robbie Bhatti. Good morning, Robbie.

Robbie Bhatti  1:33  

Good morning, Martin. How are you?

Martin Henley  1:35  

I am extraordinarily well. Thank you. How are you?

Robbie Bhatti  1:39  

It’s Friday, the sun is shining. It’s Saturday, Sunday. Bring it on.

Martin Henley  1:44  

Bring it on. Good. You try not to be hilariously funny now because Ben told me you were hilariously funny.

Robbie Bhatti  1:54  

I think your true personal personality comes out. So you can only pretend to be something that you’re not. 

Martin Henley  2:01  


Robbie Bhatti  2:01  

I’m trying to be serious. So yeah, okay, good.

Martin Henley  2:04  

All right. Let’s see how we go with that. Okay, cool. Thank you. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I appreciate that you are incredibly busy because we’ve rescheduled this like two or three times. So I am really, really grateful that we are having this conversation now.

Martin Henley  2:26  

I’m interested in a couple of facets of this, I understand that you are a successful sales type person, proudly a sales type person these days, not your average sales type person but I’m also interested in the technological aspect. I’m interested in the business growth through data driven digital transformation. I’m interested in that. So I don’t know where this is gonna go. I never know where this is going to go. I’ve got four questions for you. The four questions, the five questions. The first question is, how are you qualified to talk to us about either of these things sales, or digital transformation? What’s the second one are who your customers and what is it you do? How do you add value in their lives? The third question is, what is your recommendation for anyone who’s looking to do better with their sales? Or maybe better with their digital transformation? The fourth question is, what should people read? And then the fifth question is, who can you put me in touch with who might enjoy to have one of these conversations with me? So question number one, how are you qualified to talk to us about sales and digital transformation?

How are you qualified to talk to us about sales and digital transformation?

Robbie Bhatti  3:33  

So digital transformation, it’s, it’s been around forever, really, since we’ve had IT, there’s always been a drive to automate processes, digitally transform your processes. So if it was paper based, could that be automated into a system? I’m not going to go into the basic benefits of that. Digital transformations always been around but I don’t know how you feel about this Martin, there are certain words that are enduring and certain words that are buzzwords and I would say at the moment, especially within the lockdown, there’s been a huge appetite and conversation around the words digital transformation. So won’t dwell or focus on that, I guess, as you alluded to, on my banner, header on LinkedIn, is that the company that I work in, we do digital transformation so we can take these heavily intensive, people based processes, or paper based processes, automate them, drive value in terms of operational efficiency, or drive positive value in terms of revenue generation. I guess what’s happened in the last couple of years, or longer than that, is around data digital transformation. What did I do this morning, Martin, I wake up, I looked at my mobile phone, I checked my bank balance, I went on to LinkedIn, I checked my email, sent some messages to some people, looked at my calendar. Our lives are so heavily based around our phones, around the laptops or computers we use at work, but the sort of underlying glue the things that brings it all together, is that data. Why am I subscribed to the YouTube channels that I am? Why do I have an interest? Why does YouTube show me more content that I want, they’re looking at what I’m watching, they’re looking at what I’m liking or commenting on. They’re analysing that data, and they’re trying to give me more content that they think would make me feel happy or drive value. So again, very broad brush data, digital transformation. We don’t sell this to everyone. I like to talk about what your company’s famous for, that kind of breaks down into a value proposition. 

Robbie Bhatti  6:29  

So from a sales perspective, it’s what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, why they should buy from us why now. We have a number of value propositions around advanced analytics, we, predominantly in the UK, we sell these services to insurance businesses. What does that mean to them? It means typically, when you start on any journey, you don’t go big bang, you tend to start with a proof of concept, or a discovery phase, or actually even a really small project. Everyone wants to make the most of our data but again, it’s it’s a scary big step for people to actually think well, where do we start with this? I think what we do in my company, and what I enjoy is based on that value proposition based on our advanced analytics proposition by trying to sell to a set of personas within the insurance business. Using marketing, go to marketing strategies, techniques, we’re trying to find those people who we think we could deliver that value to. Sometimes it’s the case that they don’t actually know that the benefit can be derived. So when I was, when I was growing up, I went to university, a long time ago, there were some people using this thing called email. I wasn’t curious, I didn’t ask the field or see the need to actually have an email account so I didn’t have one for a year or so but I started speaking to speaking to family friends around the world, and they’re like, I want to stay in contact, can’t always phone new, because in those days would be expensive to do a call and they said, Do you have an email address? I said, I don’t. But actually, I could get one at the university. So that was sort of like an unmet need, that I didn’t realise I had a problem that that I couldn’t communicate to someone but actually, there was a solution out there. I feel it’s a lot like that with data, I think a lot of people think we’ll give you access to your data, you’ll put it into a black box, and it will tell us when the world’s gonna end, you know, when I’m going to die, how much money I’m gonna make, when the next World War is gonna be. Data science isn’t like that. It’s actually people talk a lot about artificial intelligence and a subset of that is machine learning. Artificial Intelligence implies sort of like a godlike structure out there that you ask a question to, and you get this all seeing answer, but it’s not like that. The machine learning side, which we kind of focus on in our advanced analytic services. I would hate to say this, after having a few drinks, it would be a nightmare to be able to say these words. With these things, it’s around sophistical and analysts. It’s asking questions, and then using those questions to actually look at your data to see if you can answer them and find insight. 

Robbie Bhatti  9:46  

I’ll give you an example in the insurance space because I’m talking really generic. We typically build digital quotes and buy ins platforms for brokers. What does that enable a broker to do, it enables them to …. an example, you want to sell insurance to people who have horses, equine insurance, you use additional quotes and buy ins platform for those customers to be able to get insurance for their horses and so on. Now, if that process goes through frictionless and seamless, the customers happy, the brokers happy, job done. What if you actually tried to buy the policy and it gets rejected or you get asked a lot of questions, you get frustrated with the questions, you just want to buy something immediately, because that’s the sort of world we’re in. There, you’ve got a problem because from a broker perspective, they’re in sales, they want to sell things. So if the customer journey is that it’s not seamless, and it doesn’t happen in seconds or minutes, they lose interest, they may not buy this from you, and they may not look for you for other policies that they want in the future. 

Robbie Bhatti  11:14  

How does this tie to data and digital transformation or machine learning and advanced analytics? In sales, what we need to do is to have conversations with people, not about technology or about our company, but you need to understand what someone’s doing, you need to understand that problem. It comes back to when I was talking about email, I didn’t necessarily know I had a problem there but if someone had said to me, if you if you had an email account, this will enable you to keep in contact with your friends. Actually, I actually think yeah, that’s something I want to invest in. So around the data side, what I find interesting is speaking to people, trying to find their problems, try and find why they’re actually trying to talk to me and try and find that common ground.

Martin Henley  12:12  

Okay, so that’s interesting, because I didn’t know. I mean, I feel like I should know because in the real world where I make money, I’m a digital marketing trainer. So I’ve only really been aware of this idea of digital transformation for like the last six months, is where it’s popped up on my radar, and I haven’t really known what it is. What it seems to be from what you’re saying then is previously we would have described this as automation is that right? It’s about automating digitising processes. So not just sales and marketing processes, but maybe production processes or account management processes or those kind of things.

What is digital transformation?

Robbie Bhatti  12:52  

Like the bank. So I’m 44, I don’t know why I’m giving that free data about myself away, but 20 years ago, I would get checks in the post from people, friends or someone, what would I do with that check? I’d go to my bank, I’d have that chequebook paying in paying in book, I would go to the bank, wait in the queue and pay the check in. After three to five days that check would clear and then I could withdraw that money and spend the money. That’s an example of a process that Martin you’re probably aware of, some of the younger generation who are listening to this probably wouldn’t. That process that’s pretty cumbersome. Why is it cumbersome? I can get a check on Monday night but I’m working in an office Monday to Friday so when can I put that check in? Can’t do it till Saturday vut the bank, it’s the banks only open on Saturday from nine to 12 o’clock and most people are like me, they’re working the only time they’ve actually got is to go on Saturday. So Saturday, I need to get up pretty early, put on some decent clothes, walk to the bank, queue for a long time and pay the check in and then the following week, I’ll get that money, it would clear. That process has been digitally transformed. That was done many years ago. We’ve eliminated cheques now. Over time, you could actually scan a check in using an app on your phone. There were actually self service machines that were available 24/7. So that cheque that I got on a Monday night, if I wanted to, I could walk to the bank, there’d be no one in the bank, I could use my bank card as a secure way of getting in, swipe to get in and I could pay that check automatically. So you know, digital transformations always been around. Does that make sense?

Martin Henley  15:08  

Yeah, certainly as long as there’s been computers and IT in these in these businesses, then this has been the mission. Okay, I don’t know if you’re the person to talk to you about this, you can tell me if you’re not. It’s been occurring to me recently, I might have turned into my dad, somebody reminded me a couple of days ago, where it seemed to me that the digitisation that we’re seeing isn’t necessarily improving the world. There are very clear benefits, like you’ve said, cheques were a nightmare, a disaster previously, now I can transfer money in seconds, it will be in somebody’s account in six minutes time, you know, so that clearly is a huge benefit. I wonder, you see, I think, I think too much about these things but I think about when you and I were kids, and you know, even just the idea of mobile phones, the mobile phone that we carry with us, you could be out, you know, you could phone, I could phone your house, I say, is Robbie there and they’ll say no, he’s out and that is the end of it. This mobile technology is like robbed us of being out. I remember when I met my wife, we would go off and have adventures, it would just be the two of us, you know, if we run out of petrol, we’d be hitchhiking. If we got lost, you know, all of this stuff, it would be an adventure. Whereas now like you go on a date, and it’s a joke about how long is it before somebody is looking at their phone and certainly into the second and third date, you’re definitely both looking at your phones already. I mean, I really do have issues with this so maybe you say this, and it’ll be out in the world. I remember discovering music, you know, I got into my late teens, and I discovered the Rolling Stones, and I discovered David Bowie, and I discovered T Rex, and all of this stuff that had gone on in the decades before, do you know what I mean, whereas I don’t know if digitisation is, is making life better or not, overall, you know?

Is digitalisation really a good thing?

Robbie Bhatti  17:09  

I said there are, there are pros and cons like everything. There are some amazing benefits. Our mobile phones, it’s got more processing power than the computer that took us to the moon. We’ve got that in everyone’s hands. So in some ways, it gives you freedom but in the other ways, I hear you, it doesn’t give you freedom. I feel with all this digitalisation, we should have more time. If we look at those Star Trek analogies, you know, everyone’s free. We’ve got all this technology, all this automation around us we can be more creative, we can help each other. You know, society will get better, there’ll be less poverty, the streets will be clean. Technology I hear you technology’s actually driving some unforeseen behaviours. When I was growing up, no one talked about mental health, it existed but really, that word is only like come into the vocabulary. This is just my opinion. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it came about, I see it’s sort of a path of mental health issues with mobile phones. During lockdown Martin, one thing that I’ve done is there were times when I was out anxious, there were. So there’s a couple of sort of habits that I’ve changed. I’ve switched all my notifications off. Well, why have I done that? What if someone phones me? Well, I’m working from home pretty much at the moment. I’m talking to you on my personal laptop, I’ve got my work laptop here. If someone phones me or someone sends a really important email, do I immediately need to know that? Do I need to actually respond to that? No. 

Robbie Bhatti  19:11  

So I hear, I don’t feel like …. when I was growing up, we were bored. What did that mean? That would mean you’d have to entertain yourself, you’d have to do something or you can sit there and be bored. You had three or four television channels there was nothing to watch. What do you do with that time? Me and my friends, would  play cricket, we play football, we’d go swimming. We’d walk around the shopping centre looking at Nike Air Jordans. Thinking can my mum buy those for me and things. So you kind of took those boring things and actually did things. Now people I don’t think you are bored and no, I’m an example. As soon as I wake up I need to check my bank balance, I checked it before I went to bed, what happened overnight That makes me feel compelled that I need to check my bank balance? My wife asked me, you’ve got you’ve got this meeting at 8am. Today, is it still on? I kind of said in sort of, you know, a bit of a huffy way, what would have happened overnight, but she’s right actually Martin in some it could have happened overnight but in the old days, she wouldn’t know. You could have sent me a message or something to say, look, I’m really sorry, I’m not feeling well, can’t actually do this. 

Robbie Bhatti  20:39  

I mean, what we do with insurance companies, hopefully, it’s about making the customer happy. but there are some other forms of digitalisation, which I don’t think are healthy. The fact that we are connected all the time, the fact that when I first started working everyone would go to an office and I was a software developer, I used to wear a suit and a tie as a software developer. Could you imagine telling a software developer now working in a big company look, it’s mandatory that you put that suit on And you have an awful time. 

Martin Henley  21:14  


Robbie Bhatti  21:15  

So there are things that have changed, but some digitalisation, it means we can do things quickly but do you then take that time to take stock? Or do you then just go into the next gap? 

Martin Henley  21:33  

I think you’re right, there is nowhere, I am never anywhere, where I can’t pull out my phone and be entertained. So if I sit down on a bus or a train, or I don’t know, sitting in a car park waiting for somebody, or if I go and eat fast food, or whatever it is, I can just put on my device and I can be entertained immediately. I think that’s interesting, that the thing that’s interesting to me about this is, when I asked you before we hit the record button, what your specialist subject is, you told me it was relationships. IIt feels to me like the digital actually, is to a large extent replacing relationships. You know?

Robbie Bhatti  22:26  

I hear you. Martin, I’m in sales. I have this stupid saying, but I’m gonna say it to you people drink with people, people buy from people. In the old days, Martin, we would actually go, we would come and meet, I actually enjoy doing that. The last couple of years, it’s all been online. I’m not saying you can’t do innovation through a teams call, or through these means but actually, when someone is buying something from your company, say they’re buying a data solution from us, they’re gonna want to know what sort of person are you.

Martin Henley  23:31  

So I think, yeah, digitisation is sort of replacing when I first would speak to customers or to prospects, you’d go and meet them or you’d have to like do a phone call. Actually now, that’s, well phone calls, I guess there’s something similar, instead of a phone call, actually, this is better than doing a phone call, you can actually see the person and you can see who you’re actually talking to, and see if there’s any synergy between you. When someone buys something from you are they buying from the company or are they buying from you? In the type of sales that I do, which is b2b people have relationships with you. I’m selling the company and what we could offer to them. And actually, I find benefit in actually doing that by actually meeting the people. Your body language, the type of conversation that you have through this medium is different from actually meeting people. Speaking some of my other friends in sales, there’s digitalisation of sales happening. 

How is digitalisation affecting sales?

Robbie Bhatti  24:40  

You’re right Martin. Digital Marketing, using things like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, instead of cold calling phoning people or sending 1000 emails. You can use tools to actually, you know, based on the value proposition. If I were selling advanced analytic service to insurance companies, the insurance companies were revenue of, say 100 million. I need to find the CTOs in those organisations. I use something like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to actually say there are 2000 CTOs who meet your profile. Some of them may already have the solution, some could be looking, some could be working with someone else. Some actually, our capabilities may not match to actually their IT ecosystem. So you need to do a huge volume of outreach. There are tools out there where you can send messages, you know, it comes across as really personal, doesn’t it, you get these messages on LinkedIn from Robbie Bhatti, and he’s like, Hey, Martin, I see that you’re working at this really big insurance company in this role, I hope you’re doing well, etc. I’d like to connect and be part of your network. 

Robbie Bhatti  26:04  

Where am I going with this? Over time, a lot of our roles, people in sales think that we’re never going to be automated, we’re never going to be replaced but a lot of the activities that salespeople do, it is being automated, it is being replaced. So the job is changing. I come from a delivery background, you always always had this stereotype of a salesperson with a slick suit and he had a bit of magic, he or she had a bit of magic and charm about them and they just come in there and you know, give you a bit of magic and charm. The job is, because, how to put this, loads of people are coming up with loads of ideas, loads of problems. So problems are becoming smaller and smaller, you’re trying to find the unique, something unique that you can solve actually means that people are having lots and lots of engagements, talking with lots of suppliers. In the olden days, bigger companies would  do everything for you. I’ve got a phone, I’ve got I’ve got an Apple phone, I’ve got Sennheiser ear pods, I don’t feel like I need to buy the Apple Earpods to actually be happy. There’s someone out there is solving a problem for me that actually I’d prefer that to that product. Same in sales, you can’t do everything for everyone so people are talking to people, which means it’s now becoming more common for people to speak to a lot of people and a lot of that sort of outreach is being automated.

Martin Henley  28:03  

Yeah, yeah. So that’s interesting because at one time in my life, it was about 20 years ago, already I was selling IT solutions. I was selling it to big finance houses in South Africa and it was a compliance solution. It was at the time that know your customer and the big money laundering legislation has just come in globally. So I had at that time, this is pre LinkedIn, obviously, there were 47 businesses that I could possibly sell this solution to. So I literally cold called these 47 businesses from the receptionist worked out if they had a compliance officer, if the compliance officer was on the board, who they were when I was going to get hold of them got hold of them, and had like conversations with all with probably 42 Out of the 47. Got invited into whatever it was 25 of their businesses to have more of a conversation. You know, that was grossly inefficient, probably, but still effective. You know? I don’t know.

Robbie Bhatti  29:17  

You made the effort, there’s human thought behind there. However, here’s a question to you, I told you I’m a people person, however, if I don’t recognise the mobile number on the phone, I generally won’t pick it up because I’ve had some negative experiences where someone would go, Is this Mr. Bhatti? They don’t obviously know your first name and they’re like, Well, we’re looking at our records you’ve got a virus on your computer or you’ve got this or that. I don’t want those calls. So I’m a bit nervous if I get a text message or a phone call nowadays to actually answer that because I don’t want someone to like sell me double glazing to go, I’m in your area, can I come round? I’m standing outside your house, I can see you. Would you open the door? Can I sell you double glazing? So I think those cold calling techniques, I think people are nervous about that. They’re almost like how do you know who I am? Nowadays, Yeah? How do you know who I am? How did you find my number? And what else do you know about me? I think people find that disconcerting. So this outreach using automated messaging, through trusted platforms like LinkedIn, etc, is a sort of way of filtering people. I don’t know how you feel about that, will you answer the phone if you don’t recognise the number?

Martin Henley  30:53  

Well, worse than that I spent 10 years of my life, not doing it exclusively, I spent the first three years of my career cold calling people. So now I’m not answering your question directly but I’m talking to the point I think now. 

Robbie Bhatti  31:13  


Martin Henley  31:13  

I don’t call anyone without messaging them in advance to say are around are you up for a chat. 

Robbie Bhatti  31:19  


Martin Henley  31:19  

So I want to call my best friends on the planet, because, without checking first that their call for me to call, because you know, that’s the way it’s evolved. 

Robbie Bhatti  31:33  

I do the same.

Martin Henley  31:34  


Robbie Bhatti  31:35  

My friend in America that I worked with, I can look at the time difference using my phone, seeing what the time is where he lives but you’re right. Everyone is so busy. It kind of feels like, I feel like a middle aged man here, which I am actually.

Martin Henley  31:54  

We both are I’m a little bit ahead of you.

Robbie Bhatti  31:57  

Yeah, we’re qualified to talk about this. We’ve got PhDs and black belts. It’s the same, I tend to mess with someone and go, are you free to talk? And they are like is it gonna be a long conversation, which is normally a silly conversation about crazy things, what you are up to? Or is it a short thing that you need someone or not? 

Martin Henley  32:19  

So people are qualifying that conversation before they agree to have it with you. This is where I think it’s become kind of ….. I think this is where it comes round. I think people are more anxious about everything, anxiety is clearly up and you know, all those horrible statistics are clearly up. So people are anxious about everything. So like, you’re like you’re saying like the fraud that you might fall victim to on the phone is more sophisticated than it was previously. If you a 44 year old ex tech, is anxious about receiving a call from someone saying you’ve got a virus on your computer. How does a 70 year old widowed, at home alone, female feel from taking those calls I suppose? 

Robbie Bhatti  33:12  

I think they’re more likely to answer because they’re probably more lonely.

Martin Henley  33:18  

Yeah. And they don’t know that people are supposed to text them before they call, you know, yeah.

Robbie Bhatti  33:24  

They don’t know the golden rule. Yeah, yeah.

Martin Henley  33:27  

So what’s the thing about that? So the thing about this is? I’m a relationship seller, like my style as a salesperson was, from the very first sales job I ever had. I actually did before that some double glazing, cold calling, which were not for very long whilst I was at Sixth Form College.

Robbie Bhatti  33:48  

You made 10 million pounds from it, but it wasn’t making you happy. So

Martin Henley  33:55  

I decided to go to university anyway and do politics for three years. So what’s the point about this, the point about this is my first sales job, I was selling advertising, like we were cold calling and selling advertising, it was like, established b2b, like proper, but it was boiler room type situations. It was all relationship. You know, nobody cares so much about where they’re spending their advertising budget. So what I learned in my first job is you need to become mates with these people. You know, you need it to get to the point where when they answer the phone to you, and they realise it’s you, because they didn’t know then who it was who was calling them, then they would enjoy that conversation. It might cost them a bit of money, but they’d be doing some advertising, which they need to do and they’re having a nice chat with their mate, you know. Everything I’ve sold has been about relationship and I just worry that, even relationships, even close relationships are less close and less available than they might have been previously.

Robbie Bhatti  34:58  

So if you’re a sales person Yeah, you don’t go to the top. Where do you start? Generally in any sort of profession, you start at the bottom, you know, maybe in the middle. In sales, you start at the bottom say you’re selling SaaS software. 

Robbie Bhatti  35:17  


Martin Henley  35:18  


Robbie Bhatti  35:18  

Typically that’s done by a sales development rep. What what’s their job to do? They’ll go out there, the cold call, email, send LinkedIn messages. Yeah? Now, so that, that they’ve got their prospect lists, and there’s actually software they can use to generate prospect lists. So everything’s been automated, everything’s being automated. So sales development reps, they’ll use LinkedIn, you know, and send 10,000 messages going, we can help you find more leads or something. If they become really good at that they book meetings for the business development, the sales executive, then they become a sales executive, the sales executives speak to these prospects. In the olden days you’d meet face to face, but typically, it’s over Teams or Zoom, and you try and build a report beforehand, send an email, or, you know, give a voucher or like, look, you know, here’s a 10 pound voucher for a coffee shop, really looking forward to talking to you. They’ll try and qualify what your problem is, before they speak to and try and give you a demo. If you’re really good at converting those leads into opportunities and placing them, you may become a sales manager and then etc, etc, you move up the chain, to the point where you know, the sky’s the limit. In the future, those sales development representatives, could that be replaced? Could it all be done online? Could it all be automated, if you take out the fact that people aren’t calling each other and it’s mainly done through them getting your email on LinkedIn, or sending you a message to your LinkedIn messaging area? Do you need a person to do that? So sales is going to change cause we are going to automate it. Then, so then what happens as a salesperson if you’ve never started at that bottom, if you’ve never made the calls, you’ve never had to go out there and find prospects is that … do you need that? Do you need that to actually become, you know, a sales executive? I kind of think with everything, the more you know, about that end to end process, the better, really, but in the future, if that’s all done for you, I kind of feel that, for me, we’re always learning, aren’t we? 

Martin Henley  35:32  


Robbie Bhatti  35:34  

I’ve actually learned today that actually, I’m not alone, in the sense that, kind of nervous in terms of like picking up the phone, or I’ll actually message my people, I kind of thought, why do I do that? But actually, Martin, it’s interesting to hear that you do that. In terms of sales, that it will get you automating that bit yeah? What’s to stop the other bits getting automated? What’s to stop someone going to a website, watching a video, and then clicking and buying the software.

Martin Henley  38:30  

Yeah, 100%. I think you’re right, if you don’t have that, like, that’s where you cut your teeth, you know, where you do the work to understand the work that goes into identifying a prospect, and building a relationship, and understanding that their situation, and you know, building a proposition that meets their needs or their desires. If you don’t go through those development stages, then are you are you going to be, are you going to be capable of doing whatever the senior bit of that is, you know, so I think that’s interesting.

Robbie Bhatti  39:07  

Or managing people in the process effectively. You just think the process is we’ll just use some software that just sends up 10,000 messages a day. Wow, that’s a lot. That’s 50,000 away from that, if we get 1% you know, we’ll be really lucky if you just think it’s like that your not gonna be successful are you? Even using that software what messages do you send to people? We know this as well, but say, I don’t think I’m giving the tricks away here but I think people generally when someone connects with you on LinkedIn, they never sell to you on the first message. They never go. Hi, Martin. I’d like to connect with you and I I’d like to talk about an opportunity of selling my software to you. People never do that. What do they do? I’m not giving this away, everyone does this, I think it’s unwritten rules that if you’re on LinkedIn, then I think you’ve kind of accepted that people go out and reach to you. What do people tend to do? It’s, what that sales development rep would do. They try and connect with you. 

Martin Henley  40:26  


Robbie Bhatti  40:27  

And say, I’d like to join your network, or you’re working in this area or in this role. That’s interesting. I’m curious as to what you do, something that sort of makes you think, fine, you’re not, you’re not trying to sell to me. Okay. So the second message, they’re like, I know something about your business, what you’re doing, you’ve got this pain point or this problem here’s actually how we’ve helped people like yourself, or organisations like yourself, you know, it comes to that email thing. Are you interested in speaking to your cousin in India? Yes. Tell me how I can do it, I’m really interested. Then you know, you build that, don’t you We used to do that in person. That first meeting you’d meet or that cold call, if you are successful, you may then meet for coffee, or me in an office or meet somewhere, but that second meeting, you’re not going to sell are you. They’re not going to on that second meeting after you successfully cold called them, or sent that automated message, people aren’t going to immediately buy from you. There could be instances where they do based on the brand and credibility. You know, there are powerful brands out there that people are, are aware of, but you have to build that. Even with the automated process it’s replicating what a human would do. So if you never did it, how can you tell the software? Well, the software is configured, people are doing it for you but the software isn’t going to guarantee you a win. Me driving a fast car isn’t going to make me a great driver, it’s got all these aids, but if I still go into a corner at 100 miles an hour, there’s still a chance the risk I could kill myself or hurt someone. So I do worry about that, Martin, that. You know, how do you? you can’t just rely on the software.

Martin Henley  42:37  

You can’t rely on the software. The thing is, what’s going on is that maybe these AI script writers are getting better, and better, and better that they’re they’re fielding 1000s of results, whatever analysing 1000s of results. What’s also happening is that the receivers are becoming more and more sceptical. What they’re doing is they’re being conditioned to respond to bots, whether they know it’s a bot or otherwise. So they are becoming ruder, and ruder, and ruder I think, you know, when you’re communicating with somebody through a text they are multiple times ruder than they would be if you were speaking to them face to face, because we don’t speak to each other like that. The way we text each other is very different. What’s happening, I think, because so much of this activity is going on through bots, is people don’t even know if they’re dealing with a human being or not and so there’s no filter, like, why not be rude? The thing is, as the as the bots get more, supposedly, get more sophisticated, and clever, and more effective, then the market gets more and more sceptical. What I’m in mind of is, I don’t know if it was Siri or it was the Google Assistant, but they came out and they said, Okay, now you can book a hairdressing appointment through your phone assistant. So basically, you can say, to your phone book me a hair appointment for Tuesday at 10 o’clock, and they will call the hairdresser, the salon, and actually have a conversation with the person and   the appointment gets booked. I haven’t heard much about this since I think this was three or four years ago. So obviously, I saw the application for cold calling. Why not? Because an AI isn’t going to take no for an answer as easily as a salesperson and maybe they’re going to have better answers for all the responses. Then immediately that happens, then someone’s going to develop a cold calling receiving service so it’s just gonna be bots talking to each other, which then makes you think …

Robbie Bhatti  44:55  

We’ll live in a house Martin where …. You could work in a company where you don’t meet anyone in your company, everyone’s working remotely. 

Martin Henley  45:06  


Robbie Bhatti  45:07  

Yeah. You’re communicating, but it’s not face to face communication. We are hunter gatherers, we were in tribes, our wiring was  from 50 to 70,000 years ago, we’re social primates. People say they don’t need to be around people. We’re social primates. It’s important for our mental health that we’re actually around people and actually, all of this automation, all of these things is it’s depersonalising it.

Martin Henley  45:47  

It is. The thing is, I think it’s conditioning people or it’s reinforcing this idea that people don’t want to be with people. They don’t want to be bothered, they don’t want to be interrupted, they don’t want to be, you know, and I suppose it’s like these cons, the scams are contributing to that as well. So people are becoming more and more isolated, I think is the trouble. This isn’t the conversation I expected to have. 

Robbie Bhatti  46:15  

It’s organically gone where its needed to I guess.

Martin Henley  46:18  

Okay, good. So how do you, if your specialisation is relationships? How do you go about forging relationships then if these are the barriers?

How do you go about developing sales relationships in an age of digitalisation?

Robbie Bhatti  46:39  

I think whenever you communicate with saya new customer, if you’re not meeting face to face, show yourself on camera show that you’re a human being. Look presentable, we don’t need to wear dinner jackets today, bow ties or suits with, you know, ties and stuff. I think you need to start building that relationship be visible through whatever medium. Show that you’re actually speaking to a human and be interested, do your homework on them, understand the business that they’re working in, understand their role, and then understand the potential challenges that they have. Then be really clear in actually how you can actually take away those challenges. It’s all about doing homework. It’s all about being prepared. It’s like you know, as you say, if you go out to a restaurant with friends, go out to your restaurant with your friends and eat and drink and actually talk to them. Don’t be there on your phone that to me, otherwise, what’s the point? You might as well just sit in front of your laptop screen and eat food there and just talk to each other or or read the Daily Mail? So yes, invest in that person. Yeah. Be obsessive understand who they are, where they are, what they’re doing, what their career has, and know as much as possible about it, be interested in being enthusisatic, be nice. Smile. Yeah, try and make it make them feel like they actually want to talk to you, that you’re actually giving something to them or value and stuff. 

Martin Henley  48:44  


Robbie Bhatti  48:44  

That is really important. You know, you could send an email but as you say, actually, one thing I found even when I was in the public sector now is we WhatsApp people. Now I use whatsapp because it’s instantaneous really and you can actually have a quick WhatsApp call but as you said, I wouldn’t you wouldn’t send a meeting invite but one of the one of the great customers, we have been speaking to them this week, we’ve just been WhatsApping are you free on Friday. It’s really important that you build those relationships, but I do actually think you should meet people. I don’t know how you feel about that but people buy from people. Surely you want to, if you’re going to spend a million pounds with someone, you’re going to want to see that person, you’re going to want to see the team that’s delivering it, you want to have relationships with these people. If you’re working with these people over a year, and it’s your head on the line that you’re you’re paying a million pounds for this you want to think that you’re going to have some sort of relationship with these people and that you get on, or that if you have a disagreement that you can get through it in an amicable way.

Martin Henley  50:10  

Yes, 100%, you say I say to people, that really, what you want to do is, is escalate the engagement as quickly as you can. So when I was cold calling people, the mission was to qualify them, to work out, actually, if there’s a benefit in pursuing this conversation. Having identified that there is then the mission would be to get face to face with them. Then what you want to do is get to a point where you’re buying them lunch, or you’re taking them to a sports event, or you’re playing golf, or you’re doing whatever it is and then jokingly, I say, where you want to get to, is where your godfather to their kids. You know, that’s the point.  I say that because I did this in South Africa. And the beautiful thing about South Africa is that you’ll meet someone, and if they like you, they will invite you to their house on the first meeting. Now I’ve known people for 30 years in the UK, and I’ve never been to their house, you know, but in South Africa, that will happen. I remember what happened one time is I was chasing a prospect, a client and the people in my team said to me, you’re wasting your time there because he’s housemates, basically with our competition. What housemates mean, is they go around each other’s houses. So every time they have a barbecue, there’ll be at each other’s houses, so you’re never going to shift that relationship. What’s the point of saying this? The point of saying this, I suppose, is that still has to be the mission, you don’t actually have to be godparents, to their kids, but there still should be the mission to have as good and strong and close a relationship as possible but maybe the tech is putting more steps in the way.

Robbie Bhatti  52:12  

Tech means that you’re getting more outreach. I’m a salesperson, I’m trying to find prospects, new business, new logos, customers, but I’m in the last couple of years, I’m being sold to. 

Martin Henley  52:28  


Robbie Bhatti  52:29  

Everyone’s selling to everyone at every level. So why are people trying to sell to me? They’re trying to sell me lead generation. Yeah, don’t have marketing we’ll automate it for you, trying to sell me to come to this conference, trying to sell me people, everything that never happened you know, when I first started off, in sales.

Martin Henley  52:55  


Robbie Bhatti  52:55  

My job was to sell to people. Now. I’m trying to sell to people and people are trying to sell to me. 

Martin Henley  53:02  


Robbie Bhatti  53:04  

So there’s been a paradigm shift. What happens then is you’re trying to do your job and you know, say you’re a developer, and you’re on LinkedIn, there could be people trying to sell your courses on there, you know, do this course, you’ll learn to 200k, you’ll drive a fast car? Or would you like this training? Or would you like to join this group? Would you like to do this and that, so we’re all trying to do our jobs using data technology, automation, but we’re also getting sold to as well. Come’s to your point is it’s getting to overload. You’re doing your job, you’re trying to use LinkedIn, I’m looking at Martin and thinking, well, what I’m what a guy, we’re talking today. Then I suddenly go through my messages and there’s someone saying, can I help you with your recruitment? Can I help you with lead generation? Can I help you with this? Would you like to go to this conference? Would you like to have this meeting where you get access to 30 key stakeholders from around the world? Would you join this to like, give feedback on a previous company you worked on? It’s just too much.

Martin Henley  54:18  

It’s just too much.

Robbie Bhatti  54:18  

We are at that stage at the moment, aren’t we?

Martin Henley  54:27  

I think it’s always been the Wild West but now it’s the wild west on overdrive because the more automation there is, the more you know, we’ve said this already, the more automation there is, the more volume there is, the more interrupted we are, the more agitated we are, the more sceptical we are, the more resistant we are, you know, it doesn’t actually … I mean, it’s a fine line I think if it’s going to work, and I don’t think it don’t think it is going to work. You can do that we all do. I have done some very basic automation on on LinkedIn, you know, I can buy a bot, and it’ll cost me $15 and it will do, I mean, there’s no value in it anymore because they’ve limited it now but I could invite 100 people a day, you know, and if 20 of those people accepted, I could do the follow up message. And then by that point, if they’re still engaging, then I know that I should be involved. It seems very contradictory that what you and I are looking to do is have a relationship with these people and the fact that we’ve outsourced this to lines of code, that the very door opening bit, it seems to me is just counter intuitive.

Robbie Bhatti  55:51  

It could be generational. So I speak to people of different generations, it’s not necessarily speaking to people of my generation. Even within my generation, there are people have different personalities, some people can say, no, really quickly, other people can’t say no, and get sucked into conversations, and they get anxious and nervous about it. I found with other generations, and I look at my kids as well, Sure, I’m gonna say, my kids can sit in a, we’re sitting in the living room, and everyone’s on their phones, and they could be communicating to each other on their phones. Whereby when I was growing up, we didn’t have the ability to do that, to be fair. So I’ve sort of been conditioned differently, who would sit there and say, should we play Monopoly, when we paid for 10 minutes, and give up because it was boring, we knew this game was going to take too many hours. 

Robbie Bhatti  56:54  

I am cognisant as well, this comes back to trying to understand who you’re speaking to, you know, what generation are they? We remember before the internet, there’s some people who who have grown up, there are really successful people in their 20s, who I speak to have done way more than me, I’m not jealous of what they are, I’m really fortunate and lucky that I get to speak to them, get their experience or get their superhero stories of how they did things. Some of those people, they may not they don’t value a call they quite like the messaging. So it’s a tough one really. It comes back to what we’re saying from a sales persepctive, understand who you’re talking to. The more you do, the better. It’s about engaging with them in the in the way that  they find sort of like less threatening, if you see what I mean.

Martin Henley  58:11  

I really do quite worry about the generations that are coming behind us because when I engage with them, I find them at the same time, grossly insensitive to other people’s needs, and grossly sensitive to their needs, you know, unbelievably easily offended and actually, at the same time, unbelievably offensive. Do you know what I mean? What we’re seeing is all these horrible statistics, anxiety, self harm, depression, suicide, all these all these are scarily high. We’ve also given them these things to hide behind. I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard someone say, I’m too anxious to speak on the phone so I can’t speak to you, you know. It used to be that it was just good manners so you can be as anxious as you like, the priority is that you have manners and you get ons and you engage with peoples and you make arrangements and you keep those arrangements you know, so I do worry, for the generations behind us.

Robbie Bhatti  58:13  

How did we evolve? At some stage we made sounds, be like, you know, imagine meeting the first person, imagine the person who created a drum and then banged the drum and people thought, this is drum and bass let’s dance to it this musics brilliant. At some stage in the future, we’ll electrify, and electronic it, I don’t know if that word exists. If it does, and I’ve invented it and I’ll become famous people will remember this conversation for a 1000 years. We evolved to actually speak, we evolved languages writing, yeah, but we evolved to the speak, which makes us different from other animals. Now we’re saying we can’t speak to each other, we have to use something inorganic to communicate. That just doesn’t …. if you believe in mother nature and things like that just doesn’t feel like you know, it doesn’t feel like this is what mother nature would want. We evolved that we can have this conversation now. To say things, we can express whether I’m happy, or not happy, I need help or can you just make me feel, you know, give me some support. How do you communicate that in a text?

Martin Henley  1:00:43  

Or let’s just have a stupid conversation? Or let’s just do something stupid? You know, I mean, it’s like, what was I thinking? I was thinking. I think, like, because everyone talks about these younger generations being very entitled and I think that the digitisation of media, for example, where everything is available, on demand, has stolen from us a sense of occasion, of getting something that we weren’t expecting. So I remember when I was a kid, my dad would tell me, The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly is on TV in two weeks time, and you and I going to sit up and watch it. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:01:33  

Take the Radio Times, I would put a circle around it or something. 

Martin Henley  1:01:37  

Exactly. Yeah. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:01:39  

Remember to myself that we got our actually watch that.

Martin Henley  1:01:42  

Yeah. And but me and my dad is sitting down and watching this together, and it stops at nine o’clock, and the news comes on, and then it continues after nine o’clock. So I’m up way after my bedtime, and no one else is up it’s just me and my dad, and the whole house is in darkness and there was a sense of occasion. It’s like, you’re a little bit behind me. So I don’t know if Snooker died before but I remember going to school in a Monday. Everybody had been watching the snooker the night before, you know, when everybody is talking about that same thing. So that sense of like shared media, that sense of community that comes out of that, I think has been lost, you know, because if I want to watch, I’ve got The Good, The Bad and The Ugly on one of my, I was gonna say I’ve got it on my computer, which I haven’t, I’ve got it on a streaming service, so I could watch it whenever I like. So what’s the sense in watching it? You know, I’ve got Spotify, I’ve got 400 of my favourite songs ever because every time I remember a song, that’s brilliant, I put it on this list. So whenever I’m driving anywhere, I’m being played my favourite songs all the time. So it hasn’t happened me it to me for years where I’ve been listening to the radio, and my favourite song comes on and I get a kick out of that. Do you know what I mean?

Robbie Bhatti  1:02:55  

The fear of discovering of not discovering new music, because you listened to your 400 favourite songs on Spotify. Instead of doing that, can’t believe I’m mentioning the radio in 2022.

Martin Henley  1:03:14  

I did it first your alright man.

Robbie Bhatti  1:03:16  

Yeah, I’m in a safe space. Listen to radio and all your friend would say you need to listen to this band, or, you know, borrow this tape. Actually I’ve realised now on Spotify, I listened to the same music from the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, etc. I discovered Fleetwood Mac, no interest in that type of music I thought, but during lockdown, I heard this song and I didn’t know what that was Fleetwood Mac. I quite like a bit of their other stuff so I’m now going to go and discover other stuff in the 70s and maybe 60s. Like you are if I go to the gym, or if I’m in the car, I’ve got that list of predetermined songs. you know, the ones that I lean on, if I need to be lifted, or elevated, or just to be happy, you’ve got those things. So, again, I’m not, we’re not, doing that discovery and again, just in sales, it feels a lot more sort of black and white. I don’t know, maybe it isn’t for everyone. I still think we need to keep that human element in sales, that’s all.

Martin Henley  1:04:33  

I really I really think so. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:04:35  

More effective that way. 

Martin Henley  1:04:37  

Yes. I mean, where this is going, which really petrifies me is like the metaverse type situation. You, because you’re selling software, you might be okay and I might be okay if I’m selling trainings or career development, or whatever it might be. People selling, people selling chairs are gonna be alright because they’ll be sitting on chairs, I don’t know. People selling physical real world things, these people aren’t going to be engaging with those things anymore. That’s what concerns me. 

Martin Henley  1:05:09  

I want to have a conversation also about AI because this also scares me. I’ve worked in IT, I’ve used computers for the last 30 years. I know how shit computers are, you know, I got carried away and bought a new MacBook two months ago, I watched a 30 -40 reviews, everyone says it’s amazing go and buy it. I go and buy it crashes three or four times a week, you know. I’ve walked up to ATM machines and there’s been the blue screen of death there because the Windows running on the ATM machine has crashed. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:05:48  


Martin Henley  1:05:49  

And so the what it is seems to me is that AI isn’t going to be AI, it’s going to be what computers do. What computers are much better than us at doing is analysing data but what they’re not good at, to my mind, because they don’t have experience, they don’t have emotion, they don’t have empathy, they can’t possibly be good at making decisions. So you see, okay, here’s the data now, what I’d like to see is a human look at that data and say, okay, given my experience, my empathy, my emotion, my actual investment in these things, this is a good idea. So it feels to me like AI is just gonna be another, it’s gonna be like a god, where we just give it absolute authority and like they were saying on Little Britain 20 years ago, the computer says, No. That’s actually going to mean no, there is no recourse because there is no bank manager, because there is no bank, because there is no branches anywhere in the world. Do you know what I mean, so this concerns me also, am I right to be concerned?

Where are we currently with AI and Machine learning?

Robbie Bhatti  1:07:00  

I’ll tell you where we are now. So a subset of AI is machine learning. What’s machine learning do? It’s statistical analysis. Yeah, so these are algorithms but these are algorithms have been codified by a human being. We’re not at the stage where you can type into Google and go, am I going to get married? When am I going to die? Will I have children? You know, but where we are, is that we can, what you can’t do is just throw data at something and say, that data goes insurance company, you can increase your revenue by 20%. So what it involves, is using machine learning models that you need to build and train, and train on lots and lots of data to actually solve a problem. But you need to know that the problem that you solve, so when I speak to a lot of people, they’re like, Oh, well, what, what if we give you access to the data do you need anything else? They think that black box that there’ll be this pipe, invisible pipe, and there’ll be data going back and forth. They’ll be sent things like we’ve just analysed your data today, you know, you can reduce 10% of your staff and you can do this and it won’t impact your business, it won’t do that you need to ask good questions. So, you know, what are you trying to solve? What is the question? Well, this is something when we speak to people is what are you they go, we want to use advanced analytics or machine learning. You know, and this is where, I think in sales, about relationship, is trying to understand the problems that they have, or that they don’t know they have is to try to understand what it is they’re trying to solve. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:09:06  

An example could be that they maybe want to generate more sales. Machine learning or AI isn’t going to tell you how to generate more sales. What it can do, though, is tell you where the pain points, the blockers are in your process. A pain point could be that your sales conversion, your conversion of this digital quote and buy in is not 100% because thinks of being referred to an underwriter. You look at each case that goes through, you can’t necessarily determine that there’s a high referral rate or, you can but there could then be a multitude of reasons. What machine learning can do is create these models and algorithms, once you know the problem, what the question is, can then actually start to use machine learning to actually see if you can solve that problem. What does success of that problem look like a 10% increase 20%, 30%? The AI isn’t going to tell you what success looks like. So again, you’re using technology to enable an outcome that you wouldn’t have been able to do 20 years ago. Like me saying, Martin, I need to end this call now, the bank is going to close in 40 minutes, and I need to put this check in, but don’t do it in the next 40 minutes I’m going to have no money to go to Sainsbury’s next week. This technology that we’ve got now takes away that pain but you still need to ask good questions. So your bit about the AI, we’re not at that stage where it’s a real artificial intelligence. As we’ve seen with everything in life, things in the technology space are accelerating, there is that opportunity in the future that that we do get a true AI, I guess. At the moment where training it it’s human models that learns off that data, actually over time with those models, it can actually learn itself, because it’s got so it’s got access to so much data, it can see trends and patterns in there that the human brain, we just couldn’t do that using paper and stuff it is scary absolutely.

Robbie Bhatti  1:11:48  

 I guess there are a lot of people, though, in the industry talking about ethics because there isn’t a standard set of rules, Martin. There are many uses, applications of AI and ML, within business, within our lives, but what we’ve not agreed as a country, or a continent, or a group of countries is what are the boundaries? Yes, there’s lots of discussion and an OP, there are people sort of working to sort of common standards, so principles, but my honest belief is based on where we started, and where we’ve ended up, is that it will happen. If that happens is I think we’re going to need to have rules. So where where do we draw the line?

Martin Henley  1:12:50  

Yeah. See, I think a number of things about this, I think, artificial isn’t, so if I think about artificial grass, it isn’t grass, isn’t anything like as good as grass. If I think about artificial Christmas trees, they’re not Christmas trees, they’re nothing like as good as Christmas trees. Do, you know what I mean. I am not worried at all, that it’s going to become so clever that it takes over. What I’m worried about is that society is going to go now it’s so clever, everything is going to be decided by computers. The thing about machine learning people get very excited but like you say it goes back to the original developer. When I think about these things, I think about my friend, Johan in South Africa, because we were part body shop, so we would have contractors in the market, part solution house because we had the licence to sell a software that was accelerated programming. So basically, it was on AS400’s and Mainframes and stuff. Johan, part of my job was to look after Johan, he’s our resource in their business and he’d be mad because that the IT manager or the software development manager, wherever is challenging it what you doing. He’s like, don’t challenge me, don’t challenge me, I build things, you know and he’s using this accelerated coding stuff to just create, create, create, and he’s doing it at four o’clock in the morning high of his face on Red Bull,  mistakes are made. So I always think of Johan, you can talk to about machine learning but before that machine learned, there was that machine learnt, and that machine learning and that machine, there was Johan building things and refusing to be challenged. That’s what scares me is that actually society, and it’s already happening, where they say, Okay, this is now the higher authority this is now the higher power, the computer’s decided, you know, there’s there’s nothing you can do about it, and that is going on. There is another thing about this that concerns me, Elon Musk putting chips in people’s heads. That’s, you know, it’s terrifying.

Robbie Bhatti  1:15:08  

You say that, I would say that but if we were to ask people, if he was to put a survey on Twitter or something, or whatever the platform he’s on that actually said to people, I could give you a chip, this would help you; it would pick up these early stage signs of these health conditions, or it would help you to concentrate more or to read better.

Martin Henley  1:15:38  

They’re saying it will help paraplegics to walk again, so this is the pitch

Robbie Bhatti  1:15:44  

Let me not be hypothetical. If you’re a paraplegic, and you have that opportunity to walk again I think there would be a lot of people in that situation; like me who wanted to speak to my cousin in India and use his email. I want to know more about that, I’d like to do that.

Martin Henley  1:16:05  

Yeah. So this is the fear is that it’s always sold on the convenience. Elon Musk’s is chip in the head isn’t going to be available to the end of the year, apparently. But they are now in Sweden, inserting chips with people’s vaccination status into their hands. You know, that is, like, how inconvenient is it to pull a piece of paper out of your pocket and show it to somebody?

Robbie Bhatti  1:16:29  

Or on your app, or even have it on your app, built in standards that means it’s on an Android or an Apple device. When I was in Romania, I had to show evidence of my vaccinations in the UK, before I could buy a drink in a pub or something. So yeah, that’s really convenient. Do I really do need to carry a chip on that is that …. I hear you I feel like that’s the stage too far but I guess with this technology, where we’re going is where sort of what’s the word? What combining with it?

Martin Henley  1:17:09  

We really are. This is exactly what’s happening. So I teach digital marketing, there has always been a bit at the end, where it’s like future technology, whatever and people are talking about the chips and they’ve been talking about 2022, I’m not joking since about 2013. 2022 will be the year, 2022 will be the year. Two years ago that still felt like a long way away. In Sweden it’s going. The stated benefit paraplegics can walk. perfectly justified, if that’s the case, scary but perfectly justified. Oh, you don’t have to get your phone out to show someone your vaccination status, that’s insane, that’s insane laziness.

Robbie Bhatti  1:17:54  

Well, there’ll be some people who’ve been on the phone. Yeah. Yeah, sorry. Like that. It’s a, I hear you on that. I hear you on that. We’re kind of covering a lot. We’re talking about sales but we’re talking about automation as well and AI. I guess for me is, I’ve only, most of my life has been in delivery in technical roles. I’ve had like, the privilege of working on really big projects with people and it was really good fun when we went live. I really love sales. I wish I started it earlier in my career but for sales in the future, I feel a lot of it, will you will have and you will use bots, you will use AI, you will use automation to take away those activities. Some of them they should be taken away. You know, can you send out 5000 emails? You know, that’s, that’s boring as well. No one really would want to do that you would think so you can do something more high value. I don’t know what’s gonna happen I know certainly in the next five years and stuff how we are ….. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:19:02  

Actually one of the questions you’re going to ask Martin about what sort of books to read I’m going to be really, I’m going to be controversial or boring.

Robbie Bhatti  1:19:33  

You can’t be controversial and boring. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:19:35  

Yeah. When I was in Capita. Yeah, I see what your saying now. When I was in Capita I did training with a company called Revenue Storm. Absolutely amazing, I would recommend that to anyone. Also did Miller Heiman training. I had a bit of a hang up about Miller Heiman because it’s been around for a really really long time but actually when I did the training, you know what a lot of what they’re actually getting you to do is to understand the person, to be prepared. So when you meet someone, you’re not going well tell me your problems what keeps you up at night? How can I help you? That’s, that’s so intellectually lazy. People don’t have the time for that. Controversial a lot of people don’t like Miller Heiman, but actually what Miller Heiman I thought was really good is actually preparing, your actually invested in that person, so that you actually have a meaningful conversation. They feel that there’s something of value that you could sell to them, that could make them the way that I like to say is you want to, when you’re selling someone, you want to make them famous. That when they brought this that they’re going to be celebrated in their ***company, people are going to think he’s a genius for buying that, or using that company. Miller Heiman actually, I hate doing preparation you just want to go in there and smiling and have a bit of magic and charm but because people are so busy, automation hasn’t given us more time, we’ve got less time it feels. I think I would say to people have have a read of their books, or speak to someone you know, like, Revenue Storm, read the stuff that they do, because it is all about understanding the problem that you’re trying to solve. You can automate that to an extent but you’re not going to get the sale I don’t think.

Martin Henley  1:21:44  

Yeah, the thing is, I think what we’re talking about is an age old, b2b sales and marketing issue, which is how do you cut through the noise and the junk to get to the person that you can be supporting and actually making that happen. You know, so that is age old. I think the thing about automation is it’s just increasing the noise. Part of the reason that people are less available is because they are more bombarded with these messages, so now your message has to be cuter, it has to be better it has to be …. is a computer going to help you to do that? It’s just going to make people more sceptical. So I’m with you, 100%, I think it’s about relationships, and I think, and I hope, that that continues to be the case, or that continues to be the opportunity, at least. Otherwise they’re just going to automate the sales process, automate the procurement process and there’s what? That’s the alternative

Robbie Bhatti  1:22:51  

What if you want to do sales? Yeah, I hear you. The next time we have this conversation in 10 years or 20 years, it will be our avatars in the Metaverse and there may not necessarily be physical entities of us left.

Martin Henley  1:23:09  

If you meet an avatar of me in the Metaverse, you do me a favour and just come around my house and shoot me in the face wherever I’m plugged in. 

How could AI be supporting salespeople in their sales roles?

Robbie Bhatti  1:23:18  

Because someone took a picture of you and said I want this avatar. Interestingly about AI for a sales CRM, say you’re selling Salesforce solutions, you put your opportunity in as a lead, I’m saying this in case my boss is listening. You then, you know qualify put the opportunity in. What What if you had 10s of 1000s of opportunities in there won or lost? What if AI ML could actually help you say the probability of you winning this is quite low, because of these reasons. Again, it’s all about the data you put in, you can’t just put in the opportunities for two years, it’s 100 million pounds, you know, 40% margin. What I said about ML, you need data, you need to train it on lots and lots of data. You also need to capture that data to be able to then train it etc. What if in, you know the CRM you’re using it could actually give you a probability of actually closing that? How would you feel about that? Would you believe it? 

Martin Henley  1:24:33  


Robbie Bhatti  1:24:34  

If it said you had a 30%, and then your sales director who’s 20 years younger than you and actually says, I believe the software, let’s do it, you should close it, would you close it? Or would you look to actually say these are the improvements, recommendations it’s making, this is what you actually need to do. I think I don’t know what the answer, I know your answer to it, but I’m curious as tob there’s someone out there, there are people working on this problem. So that’s actually going to happen. It’s actually happening now I know, there are companies doing it. That, to me is something that could impact me curiously, and I’m actually trying to sell to someone else. So, I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is, I wouldn’t believe it, I still feel you need to qualify it, but also give evidence and proof of how you’re actually going to close that opportunity but that day isn’t far off.

Martin Henley  1:25:36  

I think that day is a long way off and I’ll tell you why is because what we’re imagining is that, somehow, we’re going to be able to produce computer software’s or computer programmes that are going to fix the world, that’s not the case. You can’t, you can’t create …. you have to have the fix in the real world, and then you can replicate it on the software is what you can do. What you’ve gone to is something that I think, is at the very heart of like business to business sales, almost the very definition of why you need a business to business salesperson. That person should be there qualifying the likelihood of that happening, using their actual, not artificial intelligence, their actual intelligence, because what you’re doing is relying on not a computer, but you’re relying on the emotions of the person coming around in your favour to actually do the thing. 

Robbie Bhatti  1:26:42  

As opposed to probability. 

Martin Henley  1:26:44  

Exactly. The reason this can’t be computerised, or digitised, or artificial, or AI’d, or whatever it might be, is because that’s not actually what b2b sales people are spending their time doing. They should be spending their time qualifying the opportunity and working out where they should be spending their time, investing their resources, their time and their energy.

Robbie Bhatti  1:27:09  

Would you buy from a brand you’ve never heard of? No unlikely, you know why, if you if there was software, if there was a CRM that was built by someone, but you never heard of them, but you knew Microsoft Dynamics, I would more likely go with Microsoft Dynamics, because I know it’s a big company, it would be reliable if anything goes wrong. Sales people need to do your opportunities. How do you build the brand of your company? You can’t completely automate that, you’ve got to have some sort of human involvement in driving your messages. Once you’ve got some brand, people know what you’re famous for you, then what’s your credibility? You need case studies or stories or videos. Do you know what would be really powerful if was if I was speaking to someone in financial services, and they said, We love your company, we are a good fit. My CFO is saying though, where have you done this elsewhere? 

Martin Henley  1:28:22  


Robbie Bhatti  1:28:22  

Give us some examples. Do you know what would be really nice is to have a video, customers actually saying not talking about the company I work at or what we’re doing but actually saying the business benefit the the operational costs that were reduced or whatever, you know, the benchmarks are, that make them extremely happy. That they articulate that in a video, and you can share that with someone. Or they’d actually would entertain a phone call and say, I love working with Martin. Martin, you can get my number two to Jeff Leopard. When Jeff Leopard speaks to that person they go working with that organisation. They’ve done all these projects for us. They’re amazing. Yeah, got your back. I think it’s really important. 

Martin Henley  1:29:13  

I think that’s what and when I train salespeople, this is what I tell them is actually you should be deciding who you sell to. They’re not doing that, and where you invest your time and energy, they’re not doing that. They’re just trying to build as much pipeline as they possibly can and the way you do that is by not allowing, or giving people the opportunity to say no, you know, so. That’s why you can’t computerise that because that’s what a salesperson should be doing but nobody in the real world is actually doing that. Or very few people in the real world are actually doing that. So I think it’s really interesting. We’ve gone for an hour and a half already, man.

Robbie Bhatti  1:29:53  

Unbelievable. It feels like you know, it’s the joke. I listen to the Joe Rogan podcast, okay, this is something like he would go, he would go, we’ve just gone for four hours. What I meant is I can’t believe we’ve just gone for an hour and a half because actually, it’s been fun. We’ve actually had fun, that’s really important because we only live once and life is too short. So be happy and have fun. actually, there are some things I’ll take away from this, Martin. 

Martin Henley  1:30:23  


Robbie Bhatti  1:30:25  

We’ve got some hot opportunity, hot prospects, hot leads that we’re actually dealing with at the moment. Even though sometimes she talks about what you should do, you know, I’m gonna go to the gym today and do this and that, but you don’t actually end up doing it. What am I going to take away from today is, actually there’s someone I need to find, yes, I’m going to reach out to them, because I’m meeting them next week. Instead of just waiting to actually meet them, and it’s really important that we meet them next week as I feel like there’s an opportunity where we can do amazing things for them, I’m actually going to give them a call today and actually talk a bit about it. I enjoy doing that. If anyone is listening to this conversation, no doubt, there’ll be over a  billion likes for this on YouTube, this will be on the front page of your Daily Mail and The Guardian. Boris Johnson talk about this to deflect from the other things is, actually, yeah I enjoyed doing that. So I actually have a job where I can do that. So I’m going to do more of it.

Martin Henley  1:31:47  

Yeah, and this is what I think is amazing. It’s like, nobody likes sales, nobody likes being sold to but actually, if the job is about making friends with people, then what better way is there to make a living

Robbie Bhatti  1:32:02  

They buy something from your company, you get paid a little bit of commission, you can buy a pizza, or you can buy a car for your wife, or a pair of shoes, whatever, then, you know, the world’s a better place for that. 

Martin Henley  1:32:17  

Yes. The thing I’m remembering is that what good salespeople are doing is looking for an opportunity to speak to their customer. You know, always it’s like, how  can I justify having a conversation with my customer? And trying to make every conversation you have with them add a little bit more value to their situation. I think that’s what good sales people do.

Robbie Bhatti  1:32:41  

You should produce T shirts with that with Martin Henley on the back number 10, because you’re the Lionel Messi within your profession, and on the front, it should say, looking for an opportunity to speak to a customer. I hear you because of that, if you don’t have those opportunities, then there’s no opportunity. 

Martin Henley  1:33:05  


Robbie Bhatti  1:33:06  

Well, I hear you actually, that’s the second takeaway finding, find more opportunities to speak to customers, which then means trying to understand more problems to solve for them. See what they’re doing. Do some homework, use the network on LinkedIn or whatever? Yeah, I Yeah. I mean, that’s a powerful way of ending look. Find more opportunities to speak to customers, real genuine ones.

Martin Henley  1:33:39  

Yes. Okay, real opportunities to add value to their lives. That’s, that’s what we’re interested in.

Robbie Bhatti  1:33:45  

I’m connected to you and this is the third message. So on the third message, I now have to get that meeting set up. And here’s the meeting details, please put in Have a great weekend, blah, blah, blah,

Who do you recommend I speak to as part of the Talk Marketing series?

Martin Henley  1:33:58  

potentially. Good. Right. So the only thing we’ve got outstanding is most people like to refer at least a couple of people that they think might benefit from this conversation and benefit my currently tiny audience with a conversation, who do you think who do you know who might fit into those categories?

Unknown Speaker  1:34:20  

I’ve got three people immediately who I think would be up for this.

Martin Henley  1:34:26  


Robbie Bhatti  1:34:29  

Should I say that issue? Yeah, padding, works in the payment space. Tim Hathaway. he’s an account director within Hitachi Consulting, Jamie Barda, who’s been a salesperson, but it’s now moved in the coaching and mentoring space as well. So he’s having to like sell that. They are three very different people with three very different backgrounds. And if you’re willing and they’re willing to talk, I think you’ll have an interesting conversation.

Martin Henley  1:35:08  

Fantastic. Who was the first one? Somebody Paddy?

Robbie Bhatti  1:35:11  

Yeah, I’ll send you. I’m going to automate that bit. So I’ll send you that on LinkedIn. Do you know what.

Martin Henley  1:35:20  

If you could just do a little introduction, like Ben did with you?

Robbie Bhatti  1:35:25  

That’s important, because Ben did that and made it personable, I felt obliged. I felt bad when I had to reschedule the other two times. I don’t want to let him down. So I think this reinforces what we’re talking about.

Martin Henley  1:35:46  

Fantastic. Like put an invitation together an introduction together like Ben did that’s first price. I’ve thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. It’s been really interesting. I think, even though it feels like like, we have been talking about the age old challenge of sales and marketing, just how do you find and engage with prospective customers so I think it’s all been very relevant. The headline is going to be what you said about making your customer hero in their business. So when I go through, and I transcribe it, I will pull that out. That will be the headline. You’re an absolute legend. Thank you so much for your time, Robbie.

Robbie Bhatti  1:36:28  

You bet. I love you to bits. Happy Friday. Have a great weekend. And yeah, I honestly, I’ll end on this bit even though I remember it, that I am now going to find more opportunities to speak to customers because that’s what sales is about. Thank you very much, and I hope we speak soon.

Martin Henley  1:36:50  

It’s been the greatest pleasures and maybe in three, four or five months we’ll do another one of these if that’s cool.

Robbie Bhatti  1:36:56  

That’d be fantastic.

Martin Henley  1:36:58  

I love you to bits too Robbie. Thank you so much man.

Robbie Bhatti  1:37:01  

Power to you, power to the people.

Martin Henley

Martin Henley

Martin has built a reputation for having a no nonsense approach to sales and marketing and for motivating audiences with his wit, energy, enthusiasm and his own brand of audience participation. Martin’s original content is based on his very current experience of running effective marketing initiatives for his customers and the feedback from Effective Marketing’s successful and popular marketing workshops.



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