Amy Franko is our guest on this week’s episode. Amy is a sales strategist, speaker, and bestselling author of the #1 New Release, The Modern Seller. She was also named LinkedIn’s 2019 Top Sales Voice. Amy helps B2B sellers with her dynamic style, practical experience, and blend of current research and fresh insights. It has been her personal mission and goal to bring her learning and development background to help organizations and individual sellers fill the skills gap in the market and we are so excited to be speaking with her!
Amy has created a strategic selling framework and specific curriculum to help identify and implement a healthy sales growth culture within organizations. Often overlooked, her unique ideas help modern sellers develop the skills behind the skills of selling. She shares some of these insights with us, including:
- Higher-level sales skills
- Uncovering pertinent client issues and trends
- How to avoid sales culture pitfalls
- And more
Her company, Amy Franko Associates, works with numerous businesses and thought leaders from around the world to make the most of their sales in a changing economic landscape. She is changing the way organizations do sales. Listen in and have a fantastic sales day!
Mentioned in this episode:
Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone. It’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time for Conversational Selling the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today, and it always starts with the human conversation. Joining us today is Amy Franko of Amy Franko Associates. Amy is a sales strategist, speaker and author specializing in b2b sales, working with professional services and technology organizations to accelerate their results. Amy is named as LinkedIn 2019 Top Sales Voice. Her book, The Modern Seller is an Amazon bestseller and number one new release. It was named a top sales book by Top Sales World. Known for her dynamic style and practical experience, Amy has worked with some of the world’s most recognizable brands, and is one of a few female sales and leadership, keynote speakers who blend current research, fresh insights and real world examples. Well, we are so lucky to speak with you today. Amy, welcome to the show.
Amy Franko: Nancy, thank you so much. It is great to be here. I am so excited for our conversation today.
Nancy: Yeah, and you know, just jumping right into it. You know, I have to begin with what first caught my attention in doing some research and following you is the book, The Modern Seller. I’m curious what prompted you to write it? And who is it written for?
Amy: Well, I will start with the who is it written for? That’s probably the shorter answer. The longer answer is what prompted me to write it. In terms of who I who I wrote it for. If you are someone who is a sales professional, if you are someone who is leading a sales team, or maybe you’re in a in a support role, you are a sales enablement leader or a sales enablement practitioner. I had all of you in mind, while I was writing that book. I envisioned you and saw you as my audience when I was writing that book. So it is really for, all three of those groups. In terms of what prompted me to write the book, it was part, you know, personal mission and personal goal. And part that seeing to be a gap in the market that I could potentially fill to help people build their skills.
Writing a book is something I have always wanted to do, I kind of joke that it’s a 20 year goal and a 20 year project. But something that was always on my on my list that I wanted to do. And in terms of the catalysts for writing the book, I have a learning and development background. And so I really take that into my conversations with my clients. And I was starting to see that there were some I call them skills behind the skills that organizations individuals could be building in themselves to make their everyday selling activities, more efficient, more effective. So we build agility, entrepreneurial thinking, a holistic approach, being an ambassador and taking a social approach with selling, we can be better at every everyday selling activities.
Nancy: Yeah, you talked about the gaps? Is that what you were referring to the skills behind the skills?
Amy: Those were the gaps. Yes. So when you take a look at the building these skills in the organization, most most folks are very focused on the everyday skills of prospecting, presenting, negotiating, closing, and for the record, those skills and activities don’t go away. But I was seeing the need to build some of these higher level skills, capabilities to make people better.
Nancy: Okay. You know, I I’ve also read that you believe selling environments are more competitive than ever before.
Amy: Yes, absolutely. So, I always have a client start by looking inside their own organization. So all of those things that you just mentioned, are absolutely happening broadly across industries. Pricing pressures, commoditization pressures, and many times we commoditize ourselves without even knowing it. We’re not not cognizant of it, but all of your pressures and issues are happening very widely. What I encourage my clients to do is really take a look inside your own organization, take a look inside your client base today and where you want to take it, to uncover the trends in the issues that are pertinent to your organization into your clients. The more you know about what’s happening in your clients businesses, the better you can be at advising them.
And the better you can stave off that commoditization trap that so many of us fall into. And then that ultimately ties to loyalty. Satisfaction is a satisfaction used to be the bar that we all strive for. Right, you really need to be striving towards loyalty. And that won’t be the challenge these days, our customers, even our best customers have more choice than ever before. And there is some research out there that shows that if you have if you have 100 customers, one of those customers could be looking at another provider over the next two to three years, because they’re satisfied, but they may not be as loyal to you as you think that they are. So it’s both a challenge and an opportunity for organizations to take advantage of to build more loyalty.
Nancy: Yeah, so what do you think is prompting the environment to change so much?
Amy: Oh, well, I think you have a mix of things. You obviously have the current world events. Right, you know, you have you have, you know, the pandemic, of course, has accelerated things that were already happening. So if you, you know, I follow a number of thought leaders, not only in the sales industry, but just very broadly to get different perspectives. And the common theme is that the current world events, you know, so the pandemic, being one of them, didn’t necessarily create the trends that we’re seeing, they accelerated the trend that was already happening. The trend of organizations being more digital than ever before, the trend of organizations who maybe have some struggling business units or struggling divisions that really hit got hit even harder. The trend of needing to build relationships through technology, those where always here, but the pandemic just made them just even hotter. And our customers having to work through them.
Nancy: I also know that you’re a big believer in developing sales growth cultures, and you talk about indicators of these cultures. What are some of them? And how do you know if a company is poised to, you know, in that direction?
Amy: Yeah, so all the work that I that I do, and that this is something that I’ve, as I reflected on all the different types of work that I do, it could be sales strategy work, it can be skill development work, it could be evaluation work of the organization, it really in the end, all points to one thing, which is, do you as an organization, have a healthy productive sales growth culture? Do you have it defined? Do you know what that means for your organization? And the way that I define it is the strategy, the people and the tools that come together and help you create a growth culture that is sustainable, that it’s meaningful, and that’s profitable over time. There’s nothing worse than closing a million dollar deal. And it costs you a million and a half to close it. There’s one or two things that are worse than that. But but you know what I mean?
Amy: But as a as a leader, do you have that defined in your organization? And do you have the right things in place to make it happen?
Nancy: How long does it take to really go from a culture say, without that outlook, right. And those things in place to achieve that is? Have you ever done any research on that?
Amy: Yeah, I’m going to give you my wishy washy answer of it depends. And here and here’s, here’s what it depends on. It, some of it depends on the size of your organization. This is where as sometimes mid market and small organizations have an advantage because they have oftentimes have the capability of being more nimble and being more agile to make these types of decisions. I’d also highly, highly depend on your leadership. You have to have the leaders in place who believe in building a healthy sales growth culture, because the decisions that they make across all those buckets of strategy, people and tools are what contributed to it. So I would say those are probably two two major levers that contribute to how long it will take you to say, on the point A today, which says, I really need to build sales growth culture to get to a point B where like, we’re in a place where we feel feel good, and we’re seeing results from it.
Nancy: Sure. Yeah. I guess like anything else, right? You’ve got to think it through and then commit to making it happen.
Amy: Yeah, intentionality, commitment. A consistent action. And accountability is probably the one place where you see things fall fall down. You can you can create all you can create the most beautiful sales growth culture strategy in the world, but if you don’t have the accountability and the structures in place to support it, you’re going to look back in a year and say, wow, we didn’t really accomplish a whole lot. So there’s those accountabilities and consistent action items are what really drive it in the end?
Nancy: Yeah. share with the audience what your unique idea is, that sets you apart?
Amy: I was thinking about this question. And, you know, what, what is what is it that makes makes me unique? And I would say it’s probably two things. First is the blend of my background, I have a I have a varied background, that gives me experience in b2b selling, entrepreneurial selling, learning and development, leadership, I bring all of those experiences to my clients. And it gives me a very broad perspective. I am someone who loves to go go broad, read different things, experience different things, and bring that perspective back. I would say the other piece to it that makes me unique is the efforts and intention that I’ve put into building my network.
My network is so so valuable to me personally and professionally. I was just on a call this morning before we before we did this, this conversation here. And I was brainstorming with a global sales leader. And we were just talking about a number a number of different things, both strategic and tactical. And there were a couple of things I said, you know, this may not be quite in my wheelhouse, but I could think of at least two to three people in those different categories that I could make introductions for that my friends is so valuable if you call it cultivates your network. And you could make introductions for the for for others.
Nancy: Yeah. And you know, you said that you like to keep your experiences broad. So I know you have a story you want to talk to us about. And I think it starts in Kenya.
Amy: It sure does. And so this was actually a year ago before the pandemic, and I’ll try to give you the Cliff Notes version of the story. My husband and I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Kenya. And we did a two and a half week Safari. And we did this in February of 2020. And we we’ve kind of threaded the needle Nancy, we got home end of February. And things have been pretty well shut down here now on that in mid March. But so so this story actually happened in one of the regional airports. So you you go to one of the regional airports and you get all these little puddle jumpers that take you to different parts of the country to experience it.
And there was this young man there, Calvin, who was our our concierge, I think it’s probably the best way to describe him. He was just fantastic. Help us with our bags, helped us get through our gates, all of that. And he’s looking at the manifest, and he is reading it and there’s like eight people on this manifest. We’re not talking a lot of people here. And he looks at me and he said, are you Amy Franko the author? And I’m looking at him and I’m looking at my husband and my friends. I’m like, alright, which one of you put him up to this? We did not believe him. He’s like, you are the author, right? And I said, well, yeah. But um, you know, how do you know who I am? He’s like, I love sales. I love everything about sales. I came across your book. He’s like, how about get your book? And I said, well, probably the best way to order it is on Amazon.
And Nancy, I’m totally not buying his story. I’m like, my friend puts you up to this. I loved him. He was so sincere. And so that’s kind of the end of that conversation. Fast forward. Three days later, I come back to the same airport. There’s my buddy Calvin. There he is and he says how do I get your book? And then he starts saying other names of other sales people. Like other sales consultants and authors that my friends wouldn’t necessarily know. And okay, all right. I think maybe Calvin, you’re you’re you’re telling me the truth here and he’s like I’ve been trying to tell you. He was great. So here we are. And I said, all right, let me take a photo of your badge, let’s take a photo together, and I will send you a copy of the book.
So a few couple weeks later, I put a copy of the book in the mail, signed it. And then a few weeks after that, he sent me the nicest letter and sent me some photos of himself with the book all the way back in, in Nairobi. So it just goes to show you never know who you’re going to meet. And you just never know who’s that whose lives you may intersect with, and have the opportunity to maybe impact them. And it was all because of the book.
Nancy: Wow. And little does Calvin know that you’re that you will have repeated this story X amount of times in X amount of years. He’s famous. He may not know it, but he’s famous now. Right?
Amy: Exactly. Yeah, for sure. I had I had to I had to write that blog post about it and share that experience. So definitely once in a lifetime experience, both the trip and the meeting.
Nancy: Yeah. Wow. So what would you like me to spotlight?
Amy: Well, why don’t we talk a little bit about my strategic selling program. And, you know, this is really for organizations and or individuals, individual sellers, who really want to focus on up leveling their sales skills. Selling strategically is really what’s going to help you have a competitive advantage to really be a modern seller. And it’s the combination of being able to think very forward in into the next couple of years, about your customers about where you want your territory to be. But also very specific skills to to help you get there.
And I created a strategic selling framework and a very specific curriculum, to help sellers build these skills that will ultimately help them a better qualified opportunities. Will help them better move those opportunities through their pipelines and really stand out and help to close more business. So that’s a program that’s very near and dear to my heart. I will bring it to organizations and facilitate it. Or I also have a fully digital platform, which which I lovingly lovingly refer to as my pandemic project. Taking that that’s completely virtually.
Nancy: Yeah, you know, I think having a program or a guide, or you know, here at One of a Kind Sales, it we we always start with a script, right, and we own it, and we have it day in and day out, and making sure that our conversations are as meaningful as possible. I think it’s so important to have programs or playbooks, you know, and even those that have been in sales, for many, many years, you always walk away with a nugget or two, right, and when it’s in front of you, and you study it.
Amy: I find that organizations and individuals who have a nice balance of structure and flexibility, the structure in terms of process or frameworks that you use. Structure in terms of your your consistency, but also being able to flex for your, you know, a specific skill for a customer situation, I find those organizations and individuals to be the most successful.
Nancy: I completely agree with you. You know, we’re we’re running out of time, and we could stay on forever. But what is one takeaway you’d like to leave the listeners with?
Amy: I would say the number one thing that you can do, no matter where you happen to be in your career, at this moment in time, but the number one thing that you can do is protect and nurture your mindset. And then intentionally find ways to step out of what’s comfortable. Your mindset and your approach, the way you think about things the way you think about yourself. So, so important. And your outlook, the way you step into each day, do you look at each day as full of opportunity? Do you look at the challenges that you face as just opportunities to get better? Your mindset will take you so far, professionally and personally.
Nancy: Yeah, ditto ditto ditto. So, thank you all for listening in today. You were absolutely wonderful, Amy and I’m sure you have many more stories you you’re going to share if you come back on the program. So I say to everyone have a fantastic and successful sales day. Let’s all go out and purchase Modern Selling. And you know what I forgot, though, Amy, how does my audience get in touch with you?
Amy: Sure so so a couple of ways. If you’re interested in purchasing The Modern Seller, you can jump out to Amazon and you can buy it in a physical copy, audible and Kindle. So all the versions are available to you. And then secondarily, connect with me on LinkedIn. And if you connect with connect with me, please personalize your note and let me know that you met me on Nancy’s show.
Nancy: And I’m sure many people will do again thank you everyone for listening in. And Amy, you’re terrific. I look forward to continuing to follow you and network with you. Have a great day everyone.
Voiceover: The Conversational Selling Podcast is sponsored by One of a Kind Sales. If you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough leads or your sales team complains that they just don’t have enough time to prospect, we can help. To work with Nancy and her team one on one to help you manage your sales team, install her proven outbound sales process and create more bottom line results, email her now at Nancy@oneofakindsales.com. To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at oneofakindsales.com/book.