Fred Diamond | Three Keys to Successful Sales

On this week’s episode of Conversational Selling, we speak with Fred Diamond, President, Executive Director, and Co-Founder of IES, the Institute for Excellence in Sales. He’s also the host of the award-winning Sales Game Changers Podcast. 

Fred started his prolific career in software sales with Apple, Compaq, and Compuware, and had a side-hustle as an in-demand party DJ. He has interviewed 1000s of sales professionals and leaders, always seeking tips to pass on to IES members to help them get better at the art and science of professional sales. 

We chat with Fred about all he’s learned from hosting a webinar a day, as well as:

  • The three big challenges everyone is facing right now
  • Being empathetic to customers’ concerns
  • The three keys to successful sales
  • Differentiating yourself as a professional by staying committed to your development
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hi 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 me today is Fred Diamond, Executive Director and Co-Founder of IES, the Institute for Excellence in Sales. He’s also the host of the Sales Game Changers podcast. Fred is an engaging, energetic sales professional who spent time as an in demand party DJ, that sounds like it was a lot of fun, Fred. He’s interviewed 1000s of sales professionals about their career, always seeking tips to pass on to IES members, and leaders to help them get better at the art and science of professional sales. He’s an exceptional speaker who frequently helps companies improve their sales processes, and stay ahead of the trend. I you know, I’m really excited to get started today, Fred, and I’m hoping to pick up some interview tips along the way. Welcome to the show.

Fred Diamond: Nancy, it’s great to talk to you. Everything you just said is absolutely true. So it’s great to be here.

Nancy: Hey, I don’t know if we want to start with the DJ, or actually a sales trend. So why don’t we start off with the sales trend? You know, we’re in 2021. Everyone’s anxious to move forward and to grow. What are some of the trends that you’re seeing in sales right now?

Fred: Yeah, there’s tons we do a webinar a day at the Institute for Excellence in Sales. And I do want to do one quick comment about the DJing. I’m glad you brought it up. I was a DJ after college. On weekends. I worked for McGraw Hill publishing for a couple years. And on weekends, Friday, Saturday, Sundays, I would I would DJ weddings, proms, bar mitzvahs, you know, the whole thing. And I like to say like to say I learned more about life. And not just sales, but about life in general as a, as a party DJ than I did working for Apple Computer, getting my MBA, running the Institute for Excellence in Sales, just understanding how people interact, understanding how people engage. So I still reflect back on various moments of doing probably, I don’t know, maybe 200 parties.

Nancy: Wow. Why did you stop?

Fred: Well, it was it was a weekend gig. It was after college. Again, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career. And I’ve always liked loved music, and I did a little interning in high school as a DJ for one of the stations. I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, always into music always in a rock and roll etc. So you know, it was an opportunity. It was a big DJ company in town and I applied to one of their one of their Help Wanted ads member Help Wanted ads.

Nancy: Oh, yeah.

Fred: I really dug it, it helped me to raise some cash. And, you know, it was always fun. But eventually it just became to be honest with just became work became a, like any other job that you’re working for hours for you know, I got paid to do a three or four hour party. And you pretty much got paid the same amount. And eventually, they all pretty much just became the same thing over and over again. And it was time for me to really embrace my life and my career at the time.

Nancy: All right, so let’s get back to the trends. What are some of the trends that you’ve seen out there right now?

Fred: Now we see tons and again every day we’re doing a webinar, which we’re converting to a Sales Game Changers podcasts, I tell you a couple of them. This was a great example that came up from a consultant a guy named David Morelli. And he used to run a very, very popular podcast called Everything is Energy. And I’ve been a follower and now we’re friends. And we had him on our on our web getting a webcast on a Thursday. So every Thursday, we do a webcast called the Optimal Sales Mindset webinar. And all we talk about every single week is mindset related topics, Nancy, and David made a point that has stuck with me. And I’ve been communicating this to everybody I talked to he basically said, and again, this was May of last year and I think this is still applicable. 

We all have the same three challenges. Everybody in the business world and social world in the planet has the same three challenges. One is getting past COVID getting past the pandemic side of COVID and, you know now of course there’s vaccines so you know, that whole process. Second thing, everybody is challenge with the financial side of COVID. And how that’s impacted small business, how that’s effect impacted the sales process, how that’s impacted, you know, everybody’s day to day life. You know, a lot of people have lost jobs, a lot of people have lost interest in their jobs. But a lot of people who are motivated, committed still need to be focused. 

And the third thing that David talked about whatever third, you know, what’s impacting you, specifically, what’s impacting your company, what’s impacting your family. So everybody is dealing with those three things. And if we realize that and understand that, that can lead to the next thing, which is the need to ensure that you continue to be empathetic in your relations.

Nancy: Well, I, you know, I think empathy is really critical nowadays, right? And it draws us all together, especially with uncertain times, I see it day in and day out. But empathy is also an such an important skill in sales, wouldn’t you say?

Fred: Oh, absolutely. And it’s kind of interesting. So, you know, we’re all kind of dealing our lives pre pandemic, and post pandemic, right. So I’ve been running the Institute for Excellence in Sales since 2012. And prior to the pandemic, I was doing a podcast, it was just audio called the Sales Game Changers podcast. And prior to the pandemic, we had done about 215, interviews with sales VPS. And one of the trends was that you needed to be an empathetic seller. And I thought I understood what that meant, you know, basically empathy being the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, or ability to view where the other person is coming from, so that you could be of service to them. 

And then pandemic kicks in. And we started doing the daily webinars. And empathy became one of the three big words and I’ll share the other two in a second. But they became one of the three big words. And people were were not quite grasping, what it truly meant to be successful in sales, that you had to also be empathetic. And I remember this great interview we did on our webcast, it was the VP of sales for the International Spy Museum, which is this great Museum in downtown DC.

Nancy: Oh, I’ve been there. It’s awesome.

Fred: It’s fantastic. And they’ve put a lot of work into it. And the VP of sales, this guy named Dan Cole. And the question came in via the panel via the webcast. I’m struggling with being empathetic right now, do I have to still be empathetic. And this was two months into the pandemic. And Dan gave a great reply. He said, You have to always be empathetic, to be successful in sales. And if you’re struggling with it, take the weekend off, and go meditate and think through go journal, whatever. And think it through. Because if you forget to be empathetic for a millisecond in sales, then it’s about you, it’s about the customer. And you’ll be toast. And your process will go downhill from there.

Nancy: Yep. What about the other two?

Fred: Preparation. Preparation is huge. So here’s one of the interesting things, as well, that the podcast about the the lessons we’ve learned, you always need to bring value to customers. So whatever it is, you need to bring value, or else the customer really doesn’t have a need for you. And this has become even more dramatic after the pandemic, for a couple of reasons. Some of the reasons we already talked about people are struggling, people are challenged. Certain industries have gotten destroyed, like the entertainment industry, and the in person, sports industry, right? Obviously, the small the small restaurant and the restaurant, and the whole restaurant industry has obviously gone through turmoil. Some charities have had their best year ever, but some charities have had extremely difficult times. 

So if we’re talking to customers, we now need to bring them even more value than ever. Because through dealing with their own challenges, they’re not really that interested in a sales pitch. They’re not interested in more productivity. They’re interested in one of those three things we talked about before. How are you going to help me get past COVID? The challenges related to it? How are you going to help me get my company’s business back in order because of the financial hit, and then once again, whatever the third thing might be specific to the industry or to the company. So you have to spend a tremendous amount of time preparing to ensure that you’re communicating the value you can bring if you figured it out.

Nancy: And what’s the third idea?

Fred: The third idea is that and this goes back to a common sales refrain. We’ve been running the Institute for Excellence in Sales since 2012. People ask me all the time, what’s the main thing you’ve learned or what is the biggest takeaway that you’ve had? Since starting the Institute for Excellence in Sales, and I tell people, it’s the phone. The phone is the number one sales tool, verbal conversations with prospects, customers or partners. And it’s by the phone, it’s not via email. It’s not via text. Not via LinkedIn, those could be helpful. I do a lot of LinkedIn, I send a lot of emails. But it’s not until I physically pick up the phone and engage in a conversation where possibility can happen. One of our great guests, do you know Alex Goldfayn? You ever come across Alex?

Nancy: No, no,

Fred: He’s an author, he wrote the Revenue Growth Habit. But his most recent book that he published, it’s probably in June, it was called Five minute Selling. And basically, it was a whole bunch of processes around picking up the phone, and you know, how to how to manage your, your in person verbal communications. So I tell people all the time, I said, if you’re struggling, if you’re having a challenging day, pick up the phone, call a prospect. It’s not a prospect, call partner, or call a friend, but it’s those verbal conversations. And we forget about them. And there’s been so many other things, Nancy, that we’ve learned over the last year, but but those are, I would say, those are three of the big ones.

Nancy: Yeah. Well, you know, and for everyone out there, I didn’t pay Fred to talk about the importance of the phone, you know, you’re speaking my language, Fred. So, thanks.

Fred: No, absolutely. I mean, that’s, that’s how we first got connected. I mean, I, we discovered each other, but I know that you’re in that space, and you guys have done a tremendous job helping so many companies reach their prospects. And you know, the reality and you know, this, obviously, people don’t love picking up the phone. And people don’t even they don’t even love calling their you know, their best customer. 

There’s always, you know, am I bothering you? Is this an okay, time? You know what, there’s a couple things that have happened over the last 10 months that make pick up the phone even more imperative. One is, you know, people are watching webinars or listening to podcasts like ours. They’re reading LinkedIn posts, and engaging in conversation. So people also getting a little fatigued about zoom, as we know. So people are have found themselves in some cases disengaging from verbal communications and conversations. We spend so much time at the Institute, helping people think through the conversations they want to have. And we break past the fear of picking up the phone.

Nancy: Yeah, you know what I’m like, why don’t we talk more about IES. I think everybody is intrigued with it and give us some more insight.

Fred: Well, I’m intrigued. So I would seriously, you know, you mentioned my marketing strategy. So, I worked at companies like Apple and Compaq, and a large software company called Compuware. I then went to work as an outsourced chief marketing officer. And my tagline was, we said in the beginning, marketing that doesn’t lead to revenue reward is a huge waste of time and money. And I’ve even though I’ve been in marketing, and my MBA is in marketing, I’ve always believed that marketing is about sales. 

So we created the Institute for Excellence in Sales, mainly to meet more sales VPs, because they were who was hiring us as marketing consultants, or product marketing strategy or outsource chief marketing officer. I needed, yes, I need to be in the room with more sales leaders. So we came up with the idea for the IES, we did a couple of things we would bring speakers. One of the ways you and I got connected was the Sales Hunter, Mark Hunter was on one of our recent shows, we brought Mark to DC a couple times got to know him, placed him at a couple of places or referred him to a couple of customers and companies that had been coming to our programs, and started asking for more things they asked for. Why don’t we do a program for women in sales? Why don’t you do a program for young sales professionals? 

You know, why don’t you get a training program instantiated at my company. So we started doing more and more things. We’ve met more and more great people along the way. And now basically, we do four things. We, we have a big award event, typically it was live in the spring. In 2020, it was virtual, and 2021 it’s going to be virtual again. And we recognize companies recognize companies for operational excellence and sales. Second thing we do is we have a designation called the premier sales employer, where we recognize companies that are great places for sales professionals to work. And our 2020 guide is coming out in February. Thurd thing we do is every day we do a webinar open to members and we also let other people come to them. Tuesday we do a webinar just on women in sales buying for women in sales. Wednesday I interview sales VPS. Thursday we do the optimal sales mindset, where we talk about you know how to refine what’s going on between your ears to be as effective as possible in sales. And every Friday we do a show called creativity and sales where we talk about a sales tactic or procedure or technique or process. 

We convert them to Sales Game Changers audio podcasts, and then we post them on LinkedIn. And we have about 10,000 impressions. Our members can watch them behind your firewall whenever they want. And finally, we have we have a thriving women in sales program. And it’s called the women in sales leadership forum. It’s a six session cohort over two months, where we work with women in sales in their first, second, or third level of leadership and help them take their careers to the next level.

Nancy: Wow, we could go on and on. Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Fred: You know, it’s interesting, I believe, that might be answering differently than how we talked about this before. But a lot of people were wrong about sales as a profession. And a lot of people believe that it’s about charisma. A lot of people believe it’s about garrulousness, you know, being comfortable speaking to people, and it’s not, we’ve done so much work with great sales professionals and great sales teams, that we understand that sales really is about, there’s an art to it, but there’s also a science, but even more importantly, it’s a skill. And it’s a profession that you need to continually refine. 

I’ll tell you one of the other main lessons we had from doing the webinars every day, you know, you may recall, Nancy, the beginning of 2020, everybody thought that 2020 was going to be their best year ever, right? In January, February, a lot of people it did turn out to be that way. But in January and February, everybody thought 2020 is gonna be your best year. But then pandemic kicks in lockdown kicks in. And transactions weren’t happening, like people thought they were going to be for all the reasons that we’re familiar with. So we began, we began to realize that if you’re a sales professional, okay, well, what do professionals do when the transactions aren’t happening? 

So you work on certain skills, you understand empathy, like we talked about before you study your customers market, so that you can provide that value, the same way that, you know, golf tournaments were canceled. But you know, the great golfers were out there at the driving range, or the putting green. Professional athletes whose games were canceled. We’re still going to the gym or working in a home gym, I should say.

Nancy: Sharpening their skills. 

Fred: Exactly.

Nancy: You can’t stop. You continue. You diverted, if you would, right?

Fred: Exactly. And that’s the whole notion is that, okay? If you’re a sales professional, be a professional. And what does that mean? What do you need to work on? And usually, it’s one of three things, it’s the skill around sales conversations, learning how to be comfortable picking up the phone and making conversations. Secondly, it’s about the mindset, it’s about, you know, being prepared, no preparation, showing up on time, those kinds of things, confidence, you know, accountability. And the third thing, of course, is understanding what you sell and what your customer buys your, your solutions for. And really, really getting deep into understanding your customers market and where the customers market is today in the COVID world.

Nancy: Wow. I, you know, I can’t believe we could go on and on. We’re running out of time, what is the one takeaway you’d like to leave the audience with?

Fred: That’s a great question. You know, it’s interesting, we end every single database that I’m sorry, every single webinar that we do, and we ask the guests, give us one action step, you’ve given us so many great things, give us one action step to be successful. And I’m going to go back to what we talked about before, and looking at a lot of the things that I typically tell people, but I’m going to tell people to pick up the phone. 

And, again, it’s not just to make 50 phone calls a day, like, you know, like you guys help people do. It’s, it’s really pick up the phone and continue to develop the relationships that you have. Have the courage and what you know, one of the key things about sales too, is it’s about courage, courage to pick up the phone, courage to ask for the next meeting, courage to ask for a referral, courage to ask for the deal. Courage to you know, to to ask for recommendation, those things. Work on that. But first of all, man, pick up the phone, it’s your best friend, get comfortable. If you do that 10 times today, you’ll have a better 2021 than you would have if you hadn’t.

Nancy: Oh, and you can’t get COVID over the phone.

Fred: You can’t, unless you’re calling from a bar.

Nancy: Right? Don’t do that, folks. 

Fred: Wear masks, please. Let’s get this over with. 

Nancy: How can my audience get in touch with you, Fred? I think you’re terrific. And I think they’re gonna want to speak with you.

Fred: Thanks, Nancy. It’s very kind and it’s been it’s been an honor. Yeah, I know you’re starting on your, your podcast journey. And I want to let you know that you may not realize this, but I think you’re doing it the right way. You know, you’re you’re trying to figure out how to make your show valuable. How to make it worthwhile and interesting for people who are trying to take their sales careers to the next level. So I applaud you for the efforts. 

The best way to find me is LinkedIn. We have a obviously we have the website and we have the I for the letter I the number four website where you can find our daily webinars, but the best way is go to LinkedIn and engage with me. And I’d love to see how many people do that based on this webinar. And we’re we post content every day on webinars on LinkedIn and it’s it’s our friend and it should be your friend as well.

Nancy: First of all, thank you for your kind words. I think another benefit and reaching out to Fred since he’s a rock and roller you guys can all be rollers out there can swap stories and talk about sales. So Fred, I hope you’ll come back we have a lot more to discuss. This has just been absolutely great. And for everyone out there happy selling. Make the phone your friend.

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 To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at

Stephen Fuoco | The Four Steps of Risk Management

On this week’s episode of Conversational Selling, we chat with Stephen Fuoco. Stephen is Senior Vice President and Sales Manager at Bradley & Parker, Inc, a large regional independent insurance agency in New York, where he directs and manages sales efforts and is known to his customers as their on-staff Risk Manager. He has 20 years of business insurance experience, ten years of experience running businesses, and is also an Insurance Counselor.

We chat about identifying vulnerabilities, as well as:

  • Consultative selling as a way to win business
  • Spending time teaching people to do things the right way
  • Shifting away from the perception of insurance as a commodity
  • Applying risk management to businesses
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, 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. I’m so excited. Joining me today is a terrific colleague and client Steve Fuoco, Senior Vice President and Sales Manager at Bradley and Parker Inc, a large regional independent insurance agency in New York. He directs and manages the firm’s sales efforts and is known to his customers as their on staff Risk Manager. Selling comes naturally to Steve. He’s engaging, a great listener, asks good questions, and probably most important, he has a great sense of humor. Now aren’t all these ingredients the qualities of a great salesman? He also treats his customers’ money, like it’s his money, another reason why they love him. And so Steve, I am so happy you can join us. Welcome to the show can’t wait to get started.

Stephen Fuoco: Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy: So the story goes, Steve and I were at a sales convention, several years ago. We actually met on the bus that took us from the airport. And we immediately connected, we both believe in consultative selling as a way to win business. And you know, Steve, I thought we could open it up was why has that worked? Why do you believe in this approach?

Steve: Sure. Well, first of all, thanks for having me on the podcast today. And it’s great. speaking with you again and yeah, great being here. Well, the way I see it, there’s only two logical ways to sell one of them is consultative, and the other one is on price. I personally, never buy on price alone. So I don’t want to sell on price alone. I recognize. At the same time, that price is part of every sale. But in my world. It’s not the focus, whether I’m selling or buying. That that said, the consultative approach. I realize it doesn’t work with all buyers. But I only want to sell to those where it does work. 

Because those buyers are the ones who usually value my advice more than price. And I learned early in my career, that if you sell on price, you will lose on price. And I believe that from the very beginning and it never made much sense to me to build my business on that foundation. Because it just seemed like a treadmill that customers will be coming on and off of on a regular basis. And instead building my career on consultative selling and, and building the career of the guys that worked for me on consultative selling has allowed me to hold on to clients for well over 15 years on average, which is more well more than double the industry standard.

Nancy: Oh wow. Yeah, that that, you know, why do you think so many other sales people, especially in your space, okay, you’re in an oversaturated industry, right? There are a lot of independent agents that are vying for the same business. And yet many of those approach selling in the features and benefits mode. Why? Why do you think more people haven’t adopted or adapted to consultative selling?

Steve: Well, that’s a great question. Maybe they’ve just never seen the light or they’ve never worked for a coach that was able to tell them that there’s another way and I hope most of the guys that come to work for me, have sold on price. And it seems to be what is the norm in the insurance business and it’s the norm in a lot of businesses. And we just, at Bradley and Parker, we just refuse to allow that to be the norm because we just truly don’t believe in it.

Nancy: Yeah. Well, you know, I’ve always been impressed that you’re a big believer in investing in your sales team, which is really unusual. You offer to provide them ongoing training and coaching. Why is this so important as a leader to give to your staff? And you know, especially in sales, and then insurance, how has that really, I guess, made your team stronger?

Steve: Well, thanks for that compliment. That’s nice to say, I think that, why it’s so important to me, just goes back, I guess, to growing up as a kid and being fortunate to have a lot of people in my family and a lot of friends who took the time to teach me how to do things. And, and then, as you know, because we’re friends that have two sons who are now older, 30, and 33. But when they were kids, for 10 to 15 years, I was their a little league coach and, and also then a travel baseball coach for my two sons and many of their friends. And it taught me the value of teaching people how to do things, right. And, and as I think we may have even discussed, somewhere along our relationship that in the three years that I coach, travel baseball, we won the championship all three years in a row. 

And that taught me that it really can pay off to spend the time teaching people how to do things the right way. And, and one of my sayings, that is that selling is not rocket science is just really, really hard. And it’s not logical to me to expect anyone to or hard things without training them and coaching them along the way. I mean, I realized there are superstars that can achieve that without training. But whereas one out of 10 people, one out of 50 people, and, oh, I play the odds. And plus, I found that investing in my guys and gals that with things like Sandler, which you and I have both used, that it shows them, we really care about them, and that their career matters. And, and we’ve been paid back in salesman loyalty and increased sales. So it just makes sense. plus, plus, it feels good.

Nancy: It feels good. And it’s working. It’s working, which is key. So I want to kind of pivot a little bit and talk about your world. I’m a lay person as it relates to insurance. I know the terminology. I don’t understand the complexity. And yet what I have found, certainly in our conversations and with other clients that insurance is often viewed as a commodity by many and I want you to talk about why is that? And then kind of tie into how your sales approach helps overcome this.

Steve: Okay, well, I would say that our industry is to blame for allowing our product to be considered a commodity. And one great example of that is the commercial that you could quote as easily as me, which is 15 minutes will save you 15%. And it Geico has spent bazillions on that commercial, State Farm and Allstate have copied their version of it with Jake the State Farm guy and, and so on. And the point is our industry when they spend their money on advertising, they promote the product as a commodity so so that’s I don’t blame the public for looking at it that way. And, but it shouldn’t be because it’s a whole lot more than a commodity. It’s really our product protects everybody’s assets. Which is to me critically important thing. 

And in fact, at Bradley and Parker, we start many of our sales when we need to, by saying something like, Hey, we know price is important to you. And it’s important to everyone, it’s important to us. But let’s put price aside for a moment. What else is important to you. And when we do that, the client inevitably will come out with 1,2,3,4 other things that are equally or more important than price. And then we spend the rest of the time talking about that. And less away from the commodity and the price. And but I recognize nobody wants to pay more money than they’re paying now. But also recognize people don’t mind paying the same thing they’re paying now, because most people are paying a fair price. And if you can show them you, you’ll give them better value. They they usually respond to that.

Nancy: Yeah, obviously, it’s it’s definitely worked. Here’s another term. Well, a term I hear all the time. And I think for most of us listening, we really don’t understand what it means. So could you define what risk management is to businesses?

Steve: Sure. First of all, that’s a great question. Because most insurance brokers that we compete with every day, don’t focus on risk management at all. And don’t practice risk management at all, which just keeps them in the commodities trap. So Bradley and Parker risk management is what we’re all about. So I couldn’t be happier that you asked that question. We define risk management basically as identifying vulnerabilities that our customers have to risk and things that could cause them financial and emotional harm. And we help them strategize and on solutions and to implement those solutions. So that they end up having less vulnerabilities. 

And when we do that, it usually results in a more efficient customer, their processes are more efficient, and their profits are higher. And, you know, when you do that for somebody, they trust you more, and you’ve actually brought real value. Yeah, it goes back to the previous question, then, price isn’t as important when you make somebody more profitable. And when you make their operation, less vulnerable, they, they want you to stay as they’re what we call outsource risk manager and, and we really enjoy that. And we that’s what we strive to do.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, a trusted advisor, that is really needed in businesses. So may I ask besides risk management? What sets Bradley and Parker apart from other independent agents? Or maybe that’s what it is?

Steve: Well, it’s, it’s two things that really set us apart. And the main thing is risk management that we already talked about, because of what I said a minute ago, which is most of our competitors. Why while they may know what mismanagement is, they don’t ever discuss it. And that’s amazing to me. If we’re in the insurance and employee benefits business, and you don’t talk about risk management, it’s, it’s just amazing. But the other thing that sets us apart is as you know, from working with us for so many years, that our logo and our motto is the one source right costs different than most other brokers. 

A client can come to us for every business insurance need, they have, plus every employee benefits need or surety bonding need if they for the few industries that need that, and in addition to their personal insurance needs for their family, especially the business owners and and the people who manage their company. So there’s very few brokers in our region and throughout the country that focus on risk management and those four practice areas that I just mentioned. And in our case, even though we’re only 65 employees, inside of our company, we offer all those services from those 65 employees. We don’t farm it out to other places. And and that’s unusual. 

Nancy: Yeah. You know, you’re a great storyteller. Steve, could you share one with the audience?

Steve: Sure. Well, that’s nice of you to say, again. One story that really changed my life in business, was that one of my best clients, more than 10 years ago, suffered a very big loss, where our insurance company that we represented at the time had to pay $9 million compensation to an employee of that client of mine. And $9 million is a lot of money to anybody, and even to the very large insurance company that paid it. And it made a lasting impression on me about how important risk management is, and how unimportant the price you pay is for insurance. And I’d like to expand on that if, if I met, you may think the interesting thing was, we didn’t have to pay that $9 million if, or maybe we didn’t have to pay that $9 million if the proper risk management was done. And this was more than 10 years ago, and at that time, even our firm didn’t focus enough on risk management. 

And what I mean is the contract that our client signed with was a contractor, a HVAC contractor, and the contract they signed with their customer. They didn’t realize it, but in the contract, it made them responsible for each and every injury that happened, even if the their customer caused the injury. And their customer did cause the injury. Our client has nothing to do with it. Yet, our client by contract had to pay for the full $9 million and obviously upset our client and our insurance company. Fortunately, for there had a good ending to this story, the employee ended up to be okay. $9 million richer. And so other you know, but there was a story there is risk management matters. And that was a vulnerability that none of us knew was there. And so I made it my mission to try not to have those kinds of things happen again.

Nancy: Oh, wow. Yeah. I think we can all relate to one story like that that sticks will all of us.

Steve: Yeah, yeah. Well, that one stuck with always will.

Nancy: What would you like to spotlight? What should everybody hear about?

Steve: Well, I really like to, not to be redundant, but too much. But the four step risk management program that we use is at the core of our company. And it’s such a differentiator, that is really what I’d like to spotlight because without that, we’re just like everybody else. And with that, we’re very different and much more valuable to our clients. And we enjoy our job a lot more. And the one thing that we didn’t talk about much yet, which is part of the four step process is is the fourth step. 

The first three steps, we talked about that Identifying vulnerabilities, we talked about that earlier, and then strategizing with clients and then implementing those strategies. Those are the first three steps. But the fourth step is monitoring. What happens after that. And this takes a lot of work and a lot of discipline. But it’s not rocket science, like I mentioned before, and monitoring things this year, next year, the year after that, to make sure that our customers stay safe, and stay profitable, and don’t end up having to pay $9 million for a claim. Because that’s never good. So I really like to just focus and spotlight on that if at risk of being redundant.

Nancy: No, no, no, you’re getting your point across, and there’s absolute value to what you’re doing and what you suggest be done, in general. You know, I always asked everyone on my podcast to tell me something true that almost nobody agrees with you on. And it could be business related, personal related. What’s your story? Statement, I should say. Yeah.

Steve: I’ve already said it a little bit as part of my previous answers. But when somebody comes to me, to interview to work with us, as a salesperson, I almost always, I always ask them, you know, what are the four most important parts of the sale? And almost every one of them that I’ve interviewed always say price as the first thing? And I tell them right off the bat, no, it isn’t. And I can tell you that that is that the one thing that most people just say I’m wrong about at the beginning. But then I’m happy to say that after showing it and discussing it more, most people end up realizing that relationship is the most important thing in the sales process. Price is definitely second to that. And in our case, the other two legs of the table, if you would are coverages and service. And I argue that covered service and price are equal, but they all fall way behind relationship.

Nancy: It’s all about relationships all about working alongside other business professionals. I think that have a mindset that’s compatible with yours. Would you agree with that?

Steve: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. Yeah.

Nancy: So what is one takeaway you want to leave the audience with?

Steve: Well, most people have a really bad feeling or opinion about the insurance industry. They feel that insurance industry is his big brother or big business, and that it’s just out for them and it and it’s a rip off, and they’re being overcharged and insurance is bad. And, you know, and there are some bad apples in our industry and

Nancy: In every industry. Right?

Steve: Exactly. And and there are some in ours, definitely. But I don’t focus on that instead, you know, as you know, I studied economics back in college and, and my real background is is from the financial world, before I got into insurance. And I now view insurance as one of the most important and critical industries, in our our economy and in the world. And what I mean by that is, you know, we protect people’s people individually, and businesses against financial loss usually for pennies on the dollar and You know, we help people survive certain financial devastations? 

Like COVID, for instance, yeah, or, you know, especially COVID in regards to their health insurance, but hurricanes, floods, fires, other work related in injuries or when it comes to employee benefits, we help people survive cancer and heart disease. And, you know, there are many industries that do this kind of thing. And then at the same time, if it wasn’t for insurance, I guarantee you, banks wouldn’t be so easy, so fast, to lend money for individuals to buy homes or businesses to grow their, their business through loans. I’m really proud of what we do, and that I’m a part of it. And, and I’d like people to give a little, you know, a little kudos to the insurance industry. And so, there’s my takeaway.

Nancy: Yeah, no, I and I think, I mean, my takeaway in speaking with you, is the, we all need to be better educated about the importance, and maybe you can spearhead that, Steve.

Steve: Run my own podcast.

Nancy: Yeah, we’ll have a sidebar on that one. Yeah, for sure. So, finally, you know, I, you’re based in New York, what geographic area do you service? So my listeners, you know, if they are in that area can reach out to you?

Steve: Well, first of all, we we have some programs that operate nationally for certain franchises, and certain industries, like the printing industry, and, and the staffing industry. And, you know, we’re out there selling in just about every state, throughout the country. But our main focus is to, for businesses and individuals, businesses that are headquartered here on Long Island, and also in the Greater New York City metropolitan area, you know, including parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, and a little bit of Pennsylvania, but not too much. But if their headquarters are here, that’s really who we like to focus on. Because they’re interested in doing business locally, and then we could do a good job. But the companies that we serve, mostly are those, with somewhere between 25 employees and 1000 employees. That seems to be our niche. And we’re pretty darn good at it.

Nancy: Yep. And I can attest to that, everyone. So how can people get in touch with you, Steve?

Stve: They can contact me anytime, you know, 24-7-365, as they say, through my email address, which is And Fuoco for any non Italians out there, is F U O C O.

Nancy: Say that again, I chuckled, say it again.

Steve: Sfuoco, which is actually supposed to be pronounced foo oh co back in the home country. But it’s fuoco here in America, @, or anyone is invited to text or call my cell, which I have with me all the time at 631-786-8412. Because I make myself available to my clients all the time, sometimes to my family’s chagrin, but I just think that’s the way it should be.

Nancy: Yeah. Once again, I so enjoyed our conversation. I really recommend any of the listeners in their geographic area to give Steve a call, you will not be disappointed in the support you get and the quality of service. So Steve, will you come back for another talk?

Steve: I’d love to Nancy, it’s always fun talking to you. Love to come back whenever you need it.

Nancy: All right. Okay and to everyone out there, be safe, happy selling.

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 To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at

Brandon Bornancin | Enlisting the Power of Artificial Intelligence to Build Sales Lists

Our special guest on this week’s episode of Conversational Selling is Brandon Bornancin, CEO and Founder of, a software platform that delivers the world’s best sales leads with the first real-time B2B sales search engine powered by artificial intelligence. He is a serial salesperson, a motivational speaker, and a 15 times sales author obsessed with helping businesses maximize success. 

“I went all-in on doing whatever it takes to help salespeople, marketers, and entrepreneurs, globally, make more money and maximize their sales today,” says Brandon.

We chat with Brandon about putting in the hours, as well as:

  • The big shift toward working with a team for the customer
  • Using the shutdown time to write his next book, “Whatever It Takes”
  • Building the right sales lists
  • Writing out your scripts
  • The accuracy of artificial intelligence
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hello, 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 that human conversation. I’m so excited because joining me today is Brandon Bornancin, the CEO and Founder of, a software platform that delivers the world’s best sales leads with the first real time b2b sales search engine powered by artificial intelligence. 

He is a serial salesperson, a motivational speaker, and a 15 times sales author obsessed with helping businesses maximize success. In the Seven Figure Sales System box set, he reveals 1000s yep, 1000s of pages of proven sales scripts, strategies and secrets that he has battled tested through his career to generate over 100 million in sales and build two multi million dollar companies. Wow. That’s my take on you, Brandon. Wow. And, you know, as a customer of yours of seamless, I can attest. It’s a an amazing platform. And I can’t wait for you to share some secrets. So welcome to the show.

Brandon Bornancin: Nancy, that you so much for having me. Huge fan of Conversational Selling. Nancy, what you’re up to in One of a Kind Sales and the cold calling space and just honored and thrilled to be here today to share what I’ve learned along the way. 

Nancy: Oh, my God, well, you know, Brandon and I go back several months ago. We’re trying to coordinate this date and time. And here it is. You know, just to get started, did a little homework on you. And I hear you are the king of sales leads. And Internet’s favorite salesperson, I would say congratulations are definitely in order. But what did you do to earn these titles?

Brandon: Yeah, I would just say I went all in on doing whatever it takes to help salespeople, marketers, and entrepreneurs globally, make more money and maximize their sales today. You know, that was a shift in my thinking in my operating model 10 years ago, and I just went all in on building the sales software, the technology, the books, the scripts, the training, to help, you know, sales people globally maximize their potential.

Nancy: Yeah, what well, what was it 10 years ago that made you pivot?

Brandon: I would say before that, you know, and this is probably when I was like, 22 to 25. I was all about the commission. And I was all about me and getting all the money for me and doing things for me. And then, you know, and that was just a mindset when I was selling for IBM interactive. And that was just the mindset they had. It was a dog eat dog, you know, you verse, everyone else world, right. And I had an opportunity to join a top Google Search agency and sell for Google. And I left IBM interactive. And when I was selling for Google, I was brought into this amazing culture where you’re only in competition with yourself, you only win as a team. You know, you go all in to maximize the success of the customer. 

And I just realized, if I can help enough people get what they want, and help enough people get rich, then eventually I’ll be rich, personally, and professionally, spiritually, you name it. And then ever since, you know, I was able to go from a few million to $100 million in sales. And that led to me building a sales software that which now led me to supporting, you know, with our team over 150,000 salespeople globally with

Nancy: That is just awesome. So you really went from one environment to an extreme other environment. Like no in between?

Brandon: Yeah, 100% it was very much. It was like my upbringing. You know, so I came from a poor family. My mom worked two jobs as a banker and a grocery store cashier. My dad worked in Macy’s, which was called May Company at the time selling computers at Macy’s and then on the weekends he did construction, and you know, is very similar, like we grew up super poor. And then he got into sales and got a lucky break at a tech company that he then took to be the first tech company to do a billion dollars in sales and IPO. And it was like that extreme of like poor to rich, a life of scarcity to abundance. You know, you can go from scarcity to abundance by going all in on helping your customers maximize their success.

Nancy: Yeah, well, I love what I’m hearing in this very short time, it’s a lot about helping others attain, and it comes back to you, you know, I want to I want to kind of begin with share your unique idea that is different and really sets you apart. What is it that you do or think that has gotten you to where you are today?

Brandon: I wrote it all in my new book, Whatever it Takes. So everyone would ask me like, Brandon, how are you selling? You know, so much, you know, how do you build this, this top fast growing SaaS company that does multiple, eight figures? How do you rate you know, all these different books and whatever, I’m like, dude, it just comes down to doing whatever it takes my new book. And in the book, I highlight over 100 different habits and secrets, to transform your business relationship in life. And it’s funny when I had to come up with the title, Whatever it Takes was one of the habits in the book. 

And then I’m like, you know, what, I always say you have to do whatever it takes our theme is whatever it takes, everything we do is, is about doing whatever it takes. So if there’s something or know about calling, go find the people, the content, the training the courses, the books, and go learn it. If you don’t know, you know, if you’re not making enough sales, emails, or appointments, do whatever it takes with sales activity to go make that happen. If you know, lists are the lifeblood for your sales success. If you’re not building the right lists, you know, spend two hours before after do whatever it takes to build the list using platforms like seamless, you name it. So I would say my secret is, I have an uncanny ability to do whatever it takes no matter what, no matter the circumstance, no matter if I’m tired, or excited, raining or sunshine or snowing. It doesn’t matter. It’s just all about W-i-T.

Nancy: Mindset. Determination. That’s what’s coming to my mind right now, would you say? You know, you just have that W-i-T mindset.

Brandon: Yeah, 100%, the W-i-T mindset now? No, that’s mindset when it comes to sales. I believe there’s three core pillars to go from zero to eight figures in sales. And then from eight figures in sales to nine figures, like these three secrets will help you go from zero to 1 million insanely fast, 1 million to 10 million insanely fast and 10 million to 50 million, and then 100 million insanely fast. And I would say number one, you have to know all the people that you could sell your products and services to. That’s the list like you can’t sell anything to anyone in any industry anywhere in the world. If you do not have the list.

Nancy: You need to list, folks. Are you hearing this? Go get the list.

Brandon: And then once you have the list, step two, you need to have the scripts. You need to write all the scripts of cold calling scripts, emailing scripts, social selling scripts, the voicemails, the emails, the cold calls, all of this stuff.

Nancy: Yep.

Brandon: But once you have the list the scripts, then you just need the activity. You know, and I know I know, Nancy, you talk a lot about this because you have a lot of people crush, the the selling and the SDR and the call center activity. Right? If you’ve got the list and you got the scripts, the hardest thing to do is just show up at the gym in the gym and sales is picking up the phone and making 25 50 100 200 300 400 500 dials sending all the emails, making all the emails, you name it.

Nancy: Yep, yeah, you know, the Nike, and here we go. 321 Just do it. 321 Just do it. And, uh, you know, to your point, having the right list, and the right tools and a system in place to execute the process. That’s when you grow and you see the results that you want. Well, I well, first of all, what prompted you to write this latest book?

Brandon: Hmm, yeah, great question. So the latest book, Whatever it Takes. You know, and in one year, I wrote three books. In my free time. So the first book was Seven Figure Social Selling, became a number one bestseller in like 48 hours. And then my second book was Sales Secrets where we interview over 100 salespeople on their top secrets to sales success, and then we’re still interviewing people. Like it’s gonna be always forever updated. And then my latest book, Whatever it Takes so, so this one is the Governor DeWine. I’m from Ohio. So Governor DeWine came on the news on Sunday, or I forget what day I actually think was like Sunday, Monday or Tuesday in March. And he says, we’re shutting down the whole state of Ohio. 

He’s like, you can’t go anywhere, you can’t do anything. We’re shutting down the whole state. And Danielle, and I, my fiance, and COO, you know, we run this company of 150 people, we’re like, shit, what are we going to do? I was like, how are we going to take everyone from in person in the office to remote? How are we going to make sure everyone is aware of all the work effort, time, failure, tenacity, everything that we have to be prepared for ahead of, you know, it’s going to take 300 500% the amount of work during the pandemic to generate the same results that we were generating before the pandemic. So, we, we basically whiteboard it out and thought of like, all the habits, all the things that we needed to cover in our emergency meeting, which was everything I’ve learned from running and building multiple companies and selling for IBM, Google, you know, you name it. 

And, and then we, we had this emergency meeting at our company. And then we, you know, instilled these habits and principles that I’ve garnered over the past 10-15 years, gave it to them, and then the company, grew 400%, during the pandemic, and I’m like, you know, what, I have to share all of these habits that I’ve been teaching myself and teaching my team, that they have to master that would help them survive and thrive during any economic condition, and then 22 days. So I wrote this book, 22 days in March, when the country got shut down. Because they shut down my gym. So I just wrote it from 5 to 7am, for 22 days straight. And yeah, just just released it recently, a week or two ago, in less than two hours became a number one bestseller, and I’m just super grateful to share all the habits that I’ve learned to transform my business relationships and life with with all of you.

Nancy: Okay, well, we’re gonna look out for that book, for sure. And I’ll, we’ll promote it at the end of our talk again, I want to go back to how you and I were originally connected, and that’s through Can you tell everyone why this is an awesome platform? And what it does?

Brandon: Yes, definitely. And thank you so much, Nancy, we appreciate you as a customer. And I know you’ve been a customer for a few years now. And it’s, it’s incredible to see your growth. What it comes down to is sales people. Like I mentioned earlier, the list is the number one thing for a salesperson to be successful, if you do not have the list, you will not find new customers and you will not acquire new revenue, right? The problem is, it is expensive, time consuming and difficult to to build a list to sell the list to prospect list. When I was selling for IBM and Google, we would spend millions of dollars on these old expensive, outdated sales databases. And they would be missing 90% of the people I would need to sell to. And out of the 100 of 1000s of people that I would need to find in the database, I would call these numbers and call, you know, reach out to these emails. And only 20% would go through I’d get like 80% bounced emails and phone numbers. 

And I’m like, this is stupid, right? There’s 7 billion people on this planet. And no sales database is gonna to have emails and phone numbers for 7 billion people. I was like, there has to be a better way. So I called all the engineers at Google that I was selling with and I’m like, Hey, guys, why don’t we build a Google for salespeople? So you type a title, any company in the world, in in real time our search engine will find every single person with a current title and current company. And they’re like, oh, man, that’s genius. And we worked on it for a year and then we built it. But then we’re like, okay, now we’ve got this search engine that will find any contact in the world that matches your search criteria. Now we need to find the emails and cell phones for these people. So then I called the engineers at IBM, Watson and I’m like, Hey, guys, we need to build an AI research engine that will research, validate, and verify emails and cell phones for anyone in the world. And they were like, That’s impossible. And then we started working on it, and we started building it, and then we made it possible over a year. So then in two years, we had this platform that would find everyone that you need to sell to and then research their perfect emails and direct dials and cell phones instantly in seconds. I was able to generate $100 million in sales using that platform. I built it for myself to sell for IBM and Google, and and became a millionaire using it as a salesperson and then realized, hey, I want to help everyone globally do the same, and sales and marketing and entrepreneurship, quit my job, we invested millions of dollars into building the platform ourselves. 

And now, you know, seamless helps you find emails and cell phones, for anyone in the world, it’s free, you can join for free at And then we’ve got unlimited sales leads packages for a low monthly rate per user. And we power I don’t know, 150,000 sales teams, at large companies like Google, Facebook, IBM, Dell, Oracle, Twitter, Slack, you name it all the way down to startups, you know, growing companies like one of a kind sales, which means he’s head off. So it works for any b2b company in any b2b industry, selling to any b2b professional.

Nancy: You know, one thing I want to talk to you about is the I hear this all the time, about the accuracy of the data, can you speak to that as it relates to seamless?

Brandon: Yeah, 100%. So the way that we were growing so fast is these databases like a Dun and Bradstreet, like a zoom info, like a discover org, they’re only gonna have five to 10% of all the people that you need to sell to. So if there’s a million people that you need to sell to their database is going to have like 500, or 1000 of the million people that you need to sell to. What’s great about seamless is our real time search engine, is going to be able to find 90 to 95% of every single person in the world they need to sell to. 

So we’re gonna find the entire coverage of your total addressable market, right? Roughly 90%. And then accuracy, these databases will be 20 to 30% accuracy. So if you email or call 100, people, you’re only going to get through to 20 to 30 of those people were seamless, we use AI, this 10 step AI real time engine to research, validate and verify perfect email, cell phones and direct dials instantly, in real time in seconds, you know, our accuracy, where you’ve got the database at 20 to 30% accuracy on 10% of your Tam, we’re going to be able to find 90% of your Tam at a minimum, and we’re going to have up to a minimum of 90% accuracy. So Wow. You know, you email and call 100 people we’re gonna get you through to 90 out of the 100. Guaranteed.

Nancy: Awesome.

Brandon: And it’s because it’s technology, right? There’s no humans involved. You know, there’s 7 billion people on this planet, the only way to research 7 billion people is to use AI and to use search. And that’s what we’ve been, you know, it took us much longer. It took us millions of dollars and years to build. But once you build it, it can find anyone it can research anyone and that’s the power of that.

Nancy: Yeah. Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Brandon: Yes, something I believe. You know, if you want to be successful, you should work 15-18 hours a day, every day. Yeah, yeah.

Nancy: You’re going to get a lot of naysayers out there, you know.

Brandon: Yeah, totally. And I loved Elon Musk when he said this, because it’s how I work. You know, work work long hours. I’m looking at the quote right now. But, you know, he says like, if you work more hours than any work like hell, you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour work weeks every week. This improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks, and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then if even if you’re doing the same thing you know, that you will achieve in four months what it takes that other person to achieve in a year. Like I believe we should work every waking hour that you can.

Nancy: So is it safe to say that work is your hobby?

Brandon: 100% you know, I don’t call it work. Like I’m all in on helping every single person globally connect opportunity. Every waking hour when I’m working out when I’m hanging out. When I’m reading when I’m watching TV when I’m doing anything. My brain is obsessed with helping the world connect to opportunity. And that’s what seamless does, right. Like our goal. Our mission is to help the world connect opportunity to positively impact a billion people and maximize the potential personally professionally of everyone globally. 

And if you’ve got big goals and dreams, even if you have small goals and dreams, like put in the work, you can squeeze more time out of every hour every week, every month, every decade, I believe everyone overestimates. You know what they can do in an hour. And they underestimate what they can do in a day. And the same as for the day versus the week, the week versus the month, a month versus the year. And I go into it with a decade long mindset, like go at something for 10 years straight, and don’t give up.

Nancy: Love, love your passion, though, listen, we could go on and on. But we’re kind of at the end of our program, what is the one takeaway you want to leave the audience with?

Brandon: I would say I’m gonna leave the audience with two takeaways. One, you have to do whatever it takes to be successful. If you want to master the habits to transform your business relationship at life, and your mental, you know, belief system to help you get there, pick up Whatever it Takes to get to do whatever it takes, it’s on Amazon. And then number two, you have to find the list and build the list and sell to the list 18 hours a day, seven days a week. And the best way to build your list is to jump on for free at

Nancy: You got it. So how in addition to that, how can my audience get in touch with you?

Brandon: Absolutely. So follow me on LinkedIn, we get about a million views every few days, because every day I share a secret to sales that will help you make more money on LinkedIn. And then I also have a daily newsletter that’s integrated into where I share top secret sales scripts, strategies, playbooks, tactics, tools. So you can get my newsletter by going to and signing up for that platform and newsletter.

Nancy: Awesome. Well, folks, my takeaway is, focus on what you love, be passionate about you what you love, start with that good lead list. And I really, really want to thank you, Brandon, for sharing your time with us today. And I hope you’re gonna come back because there’s more I want to ask you, will you be open to that?

Brandon: Absolutely, let’s do it. Nancy, anything for you.

Nancy: Oh, yeah. All right. That’s definitely an invite. So happy selling everyone until next time, Nancy Calabrese. Conversational Selling. Thanks for listening.

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 To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab Your Free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at

Tommy Hilcken | Adapting to Remote Sales Calls

Our special guest on this week’s episode of Conversational Selling is Tommy Hilcken, Founder and Speaker at Tommy Hilcken Productions. Tommy helps a broad range of clients, including several celebrities and professional athletes, believe in their unlimited potential, define their goals, and take the steps that will bring them there. He’s also a member and past President of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Speakers Association, a Toastmasters Humorous Speech Champion, and a certified life success consultant. 

“We help people step up, we help people stand out, and we help you sell more,” says Tommy.

We chat about adapting to remote sales when your strengths lie in live interaction, as well as:

  • Learning and studying from Zig Ziglar
  • The role of your own self-image in your success
  • The practical tools required to shine and build a strong business
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hi 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. Today we speak with my friend, Tommy Hilcken of Tommy Hilcken Productions. Tommy helps people believe in their unlimited potential to find their goals and take the steps that will bring them there. He’s worked with individuals from every walk of life, including celebrities, and professional athletes, and has been featured at more than 6000 engagements. He is a Toast Masters humorous speech champion. That’s a tough one to say Tommy, a member and past president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Speakers Association, and a certified life success consultant. Simply put, Tommy brings an exciting, funny perspective to today’s challenges in the workplace. And Tommy, you and I both know that we all need some humor right now. Welcome to the show.

Tommy Hilcken: Glad to be on the show and glad to be with you. I don’t even know if one person can bring enough humor to the world right now. So let’s try it all do it together.

Nancy: Yeah. And any dose of it is great, you know, before the show that you and I go back a long way. And I walked away from any conversation with you with a smile. What your secret? 

Tommy: Truly what my secret is, is I think it’s where I grew up. And I grew up I grew up in Guttenberg, New Jersey, in Hudson County. And it was a great community. And I tell everybody that we always connected on the sidewalks or to stoops, or the schoolyard steps. You know, where we grew up in the city. And we hung out, we met and we talked and you know, you just bonded with people, people meant a lot to us growing up in my community. So to me today, I always say this. You know, I love people. I’m a people person. You know, and with that, you’ll love this, Nancy, I always remind everybody every one says, so so you love everybody? I always say, yeah, I love everybody. But there’s some people I just don’t like. We all know that.

Nancy: Yeah, but where do you get your humor from? I mean, I’ve listened to you. I’ve watched you in performances never disappoint. Where does that come from?

Tommy: I’ve always been quick witted. I think that’s what the best part of my humor is. I’m not somebody who can sit down and really write out a joke, but live and on the spot. My wit has always been. And I don’t know, if it’s sometimes we consider it wit? Sometimes we can consider it sarcasm. You know, because where I grew up, you had an answer to everything somebody said, even my father would always look at me go, you have an answer for everything, don’t you? That that phrase still rings in my head. I have an answer for everything.

Nancy: So basically fast on your feet.

Tommy: Yeah, you know what? It’s, I wouldn’t say it’s a learned skill. Most things you can learn. I often say to people, if nobody’s ever told you, you’re funny, chances are you’re not. That’s the way I look at it. So I guess it’s my blessing. You know, the gift I was given, you know, and I like to make people smile. And I like to make people laugh. That’s always been my, my way of going through life.

Nancy: So, you know, we both believe in the power of human conversation, we’ve had multiple talks about that. And we both know to really connect to a person or prospects, friends, family, ready to use our voice? What why is that so important today, with all of the technology and with all of the human with a lack of human interaction online that we’re seeing?

Tommy: Well, right now, it’s all we’ve got so it’s like second best, but it’s all we’ve got connecting online and using all this virtual stuff that’s going on. But connecting on a human being to human being basis has always been the way to sell or communicate or connect with people. So using our voice is important, it really is to learn how to do that. But he was talking about communicating and how important it is to communicate, communicating and you know it as well as I we’ve known each other a long time. It’s not so much How much are you talking. It’s also a good portion of how much are you listening? That’s what makes communication work. We both know that right? It’s, even if you’re having a conversation with someone, you try to make it at least 50-50. What are they doing? What are you doing back and forth? That’s how I get to know and build relationships with people.

Nancy: Yeah. The art of listening for many is a challenge, because of all of the distractions, and we really have to zero in on what that other person is saying and forget about us in the moment, right?

Tommy: Well, you know, you and I, you and I both had some great mentors, when it came to that who taught us these kind of things like you were talking about? You know, I’m a talker. So I always thought I’d win people over by talking. But really, when you’re in a business situation, people want you to know about them. They’re there too. You got to acknowledge them. You know, like you said, I’m funny. I’m going to tell jokes. We’ll go. And 30 minutes later, we’re walking out and business didn’t get done. But we had a good time.

Nancy: Right? Well, good times don’t pay the bills, though, right?

Tommy: This is true. Good times, don’t pay the bills, you could ask my wife, she’ll tell you that.

Nancy: So that’s great. For those of you that know what I do, I make my living, One of a Kind Sales primarily over the phone and using Zoom, certainly, as a tool nowadays. Tommy, in all the years that I’ve known you, your your gift is public speaking, which I’m sure has been impacted to some degree, you know, through this time, but I just want to get your opinion. I shouldn’t say he. Tommy is excellent. On the stage. Very natural. I’m excellent over the phone. Very natural. I like to think I’m excellent. What, how are they different? How are they the same? You know, we really have some synergy between our companies.

Tommy: Yeah, well, you know, it’s a great, it’s a great point now, of being a live. Or being on the telephone, or now, even with the Zoom platform. Let’s face it, it’s part of our lives now. So you know, I always complained, and when this all first hit, and everybody started doing virtual, I kept I had my stinking thinking going through my head that I am, I’m a live guy, I’m a live guy, I connect with people live and all that stuff. I don’t use the phone like you. I don’t use the platforms like this. And then I realized that the reality is, this is all we got right now. 

So it’s the same thing as presenting right now, to tell you the truth, one of the secrets I do, and I’m right now talking to you, and I’m standing and I’m walking around, you know, to keep my energy level up. So it sounds like we’re having a connection here. You know, so I’m up, I’m walking around, I’m actually like I’m presenting. And that’s really works. Well, when you’re on the phone, I had to teach myself that, that every time I’m up and I’m on the phone, or if it’s a presentation, you know, you’re presenting yourself you’re presenting your people tend to forget about that when you say presentation. But you need to do a phone presentation. It’s the same as being on stage. So imagination, make believe whatever it takes. But you can be powerful on the phone as much as you can be powerful from the stage.

Nancy: Yep, yeah. You’ve had the good fortune of having a working relationship with the famous Zig Ziglar. And for those of you may not recognize the name. He’s a very famous author, a salesman and motivational speaker, can you tell us a little bit about your relationship? I mean, how you met them and how it benefited you?

Tommy: Well, it put a shift in my life. It’s kind of interesting. I’ll give you the story real quick in a nutshell, because it’s so important. I’m going to share it. I had just opened up my business. I was running an entertainment company, and I decided to move into a storefront and have people see me on Main Street and Little Falls. I was so excited. And here I was taking this challenge of opening up a business three kids, a wife and I opened up the paper. And I looked and it was a program called success 96. And I don’t know what drew me to it, but I signed up for it. It was down in the Meadowlands at the Meadowlands arena. And throughout the day, there was speakers throughout the whole day. And then about the eighth speaker. I heard this guy just saying you can be, do and have all that life has to offer. 

And I just sat down and said, this guy’s talking to me. He’s talking to me, you know, and this was 1996. And I listened and I learned that I went to Toastmasters and once I went to Toastmasters and I said I want to take this to the next level. I really reached out. And I went and started to study with Zig Ziglar. I went down to his barn to when I met him in person. And this was one of the greatest speakers in the world. And I looked at him and I said, I feel like I know you will forever. I want to thank you for changing my life. And Zig looked at me and said, I didn’t change your life. I just laid out some principles that you applied, and those principles changed your life. So here’s a man full of humility. That’s the number one thing he taught me was humility, that it wasn’t about him. He was just there to deliver the message. And it was a beautiful moment for me. 

So I connected with them. I’m still great friends with his number one man, Brian Flanagan. We’re best friends today. So it was meant to be I was meant to hear him. I was meant to hear his message. And he truly shaped me into the person I am today, which thank you God.

Nancy: What an awesome opportunity you had. You know, speaking of stories, that was a great story. I know you were a storyteller. Is there another story you would want to share with the audience that they might find interesting?

Tommy: Well, you know, it’s an interesting, I always talk about, you know, Zig would always talk about success and the self image, right, Nancy, that the self image has a tremendous amount of how much success you’re going to have, we will only play up to the level of the image that we hold of ourselves, I love that phrase, we will only play up to the level of the image we hold of ourselves. So I used to think about that. And in my life growing up, I’m one of six kids, three girls, three boys. 

So one of the stories I always loved to tell is, both my brothers are cops. And I wanted to be a clown. So and I literally wanted to be on stage as an entertainer. So throughout life, my father used to always say, here’s my boys two cops and a clown. Right? I’d be like, Dad, can you stop everywhere we go two cops and a clown. Until I realized and he embraced it, he understood that I wasn’t cut out to be a cop. And I was different. And he embraced it. And we enjoyed it forever on till the day he passed. So I always share this when you have two brothers or a cop and you’re a clown. 

So when your dad passes, who do they ask to do the eulogy. And it always comes out of everybody always says the clown. Do I remember going up during my dad’s eulogy and saying, you know, I’d have my brothers up here with me, but the only words they know are license and registration. So there’s my whole story of that I talked about the image that I held of myself and feeling because I was different. And, you know, I didn’t want to be a cop. You know, so Zig taught me how to break through that, that, you know, being the individual that you are being the person that you are, is okay. And that’s if I can bring a message to the world. 

Everybody is just fine, where they are as a being. So people always say to me, oh, they’re broken, and they can’t be fixed, no one’s broken. Some people just needs to be improved. Right? That’s what it comes down to. It’s always just about improvement. It’s not about fixing anyone. It’s about improving someone. And that’s been my life. That’s the way I look at it.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, what I’m hearing you talk a lot about and this really, really resonates in sales is the mindset, right? You are who you think you are, right? You will, as you say, aspire to who you truly believe you can aspire to. And mindset is all about feeling good and strong and confident in your abilities, to whatever level they are. And as you say, you can always improve if you have that motivation. Wouldn’t you agree with that?

Tommy: You know, having the motivation. What fires you up? You know, purpose? What’s your purpose behind it to motivate you, you know, what’s the vision you have for your life? So I always talk about purpose and vision and goals. But what changed it for me was, I never realized Nancy, this blows my mind that through all my years, I’ve been doing what I’m doing 31 years. I’ve been on stage forever. It’s all I’ve ever done. And then one day, we were talking with a mutual friend. And I was discussing it with him. 

And he looked at me and said, you realize you’ve been a commissioned salesman your whole life? And I said, No, I’ve been an entertainer my whole life. And he said, Well, how did you get on stage? Right? I said, Well, that’s interesting. I had to sell myself. So I think that’s what they call an unconscious competent. I was a person who was didn’t even know they were doing it yet. I was doing it. So now I look at myself and people can think about this. The fact is that most people are commissioned salesman without even knowing it. Without even knowing it.

Nancy: I’m totally in your camp. People say to me, people that own businesses, I’m not a salesperson. Well, think about every aspect of your life. You tried it, you persuade your kids to do what you want them to do you have a spouse or a partner, right? Yeah. Want to go to a movie and you want to influence your friends, that’s all smelly, all our sales. But we’ll do it and live it. Anything in particular, you want me to spotlight?

Tommy: Well, you know what, I just want to leave one last thing, my friend Flanagan from Ziglar, who I always say, he’s another man that came into my life in 2004. And has been with me ever since. He always reminded me and if you’re in sales, keep this mantra in your head. He always said to me, sales isn’t something you do to someone. Sales is something you do for someone. Right? And I always love that it changed everything about it. I’m not doing anything, I want to do something for you. I want to change your environment, I want to improve your business. I want to have your family have a good time, whatever it might be, we’re doing it for them. So that’s the phrase that I always liked sales is not something you do to someone, it’s something you do for someone. What was your question?

Nancy: I asked you is there anything in particular you would like to spotlight?

Tommy: Well, you know what I always say, if anybody’s struggling right now giving virtual presentations, or even giving a presentation, sales presentation, whatever it might be, you know, the secret behind what I do is I’ve got on stage, scared, nervous. And I became more and more confident once I became more confident I became more competent. And when you can have confidence and competence, you’re going to be a good business owner. So most people are struggling with either one of those. It could be confidence, or it could be competence. 

So you know, we work on getting people to the platform that work their way and become better both of those things. That’s what I spotlight. That’s what I do. I really, I guess the greatest thing I do for people is I make them shine. I make them stand out in a very busy, noisy world. And that’s the most important thing. You had mentioned that earlier every time you see me. Let’s face it. I’m a guy who knows how to stand out.

Nancy: That’s right. 

Tommy: Yeah, for sure. 

Nancy: The squeaky wheel always gets the oil, right. And I think Coco Chanel quoted this. In order to get ahead, you must be different. 

Tommy: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, right. I agree with it. I agree with it.

Nancy: So I asked everyone to share something that is true that nobody agrees with you on.

Tommy: Hmm. Something that’s true that nobody agrees with me on. Okay, I’ll tell you what, it’s that fish is no good. No, some people agree with me. But I will say I eat zero seafood. And I’ll go out with people. I’ll go out with people and they’ll be enjoying their brandini. And it’s Chilean sea bass. And I’m sitting there could you put your napkin over that, please? So my wife loves it. We go out to eat. She’s like, oh, my God, this is horrible. So yeah, this is not too much about me that I’m kind of like an open book. So I hope I hit the message that you wanted.

Nancy: Yep. Yeah. And I keep hearing you. Speaking of is, no matter what your skills or talents are. You can use those to build whatever you want to build. If you desire to keep growing, right? 

Tommy: No doubt. No doubt. You know, the phrase I use is when you’re green you grow when you’re ripe, you rot. So, you know, most people get to a point and they stop. And when you stop, you start to rot. Yeah. And that’s what happens to people. They start looking around going What happened? Where was I? What went on? You stopped growing. You stopped growing. Yeah, so it’s a big helpful tip.

Nancy: Last two questions. Give the audience one takeaway.

Tommy: Okay. So the one takeaway you want to know is one of the greatest things I hear in every one of my sessions. Every one of my workshops is everybody looks at me, and they always talk about being unnatural and they always say they have a fear of public speaking. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that phrase before, but they have people have say they have a fear of public speaking. And I change that. 

And I make a mind shift right from the start right before my workshop starts, I say, there is no fear of public speaking. And really what it comes down to is people have a fear of being judged. So it’s not the public speaking, it’s the fear of being judged. So I remind everybody that as we go through life, get used to it. Everywhere we go, we’re being judged. So get over yourself, get over it. Just do it. We’re all being judged for everything we do. Every single day. Why are you wearing that? Right? Because I want to.

Nancy: That’s true. So we end it on the Nike note: Just Do It. Right? 

Tommy: Just do it. 

Nancy: How can my people find you? And what is it that you think you can bring to the table, especially right now, from a motivational point of view?

Tommy: Yeah, well, the motivational right now is to really as I say, if you know, if you think you’re feeling bad, one of the secrets to success, but not feeling bad is to go out and find somebody who’s feeling a little worse than you are, and go lift them up. When you lift them up, you lift yourself up. Right. So really, what’s going on now is, I always say one of the most destructive forces on the planet is self pity. 

And a lot of people are walking around in deep, deep self pity right now. Right? And the answer is to go help somebody else. There’s somebody doing worse than me no matter where I look. So it could be somebody who’s hungry, somebody hasn’t had a meal. So that’s what I would say to you is go help somebody else. If you want to feel better. What you put out, you get back. So if you put out help, you’ll get help back. That’s what I think Nancy.

Nancy: All right, and how can we reach you?

Tommy: Okay, so the best thing we can do is my website is Tommy Hilcken, which everybody never spells, right. But Tommy Hilcken productions, and it’s H I L C K E N,, or Either one will work just nicely. And that’s where I’m at all the information’s there. And the phrase we use is we help people step up, we help people stand out, and we help you sell more. That’s what we do.

Nancy: Love it. Love it. And I can guarantee if Tommy presents at any any organization or is asked to put on a show of whatever it may be, you will not be disappointed. Tommy, thank you so much for being on the show today. As usual, I’m ending this with a big smile.

Tommy: Oh, beautiful. Thank you, Nancy. Me too. I appreciate you.

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 To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at

Tibor Shanto | Cold Calling Isn’t Dead

Our special guest on this week’s episode of Conversational Selling is Tibor Shanto. He’s the Chief Value Officer of Renbor Sales Solutions, helping B2B companies translate sales strategy to reality, as well as a brilliant sales tactician who’s obsessed with execution. Tibor is also the author of two books: Shift!: Harness the Trigger Events that Turn Prospects into Customers and Sales & Consequences and is a well-known expert of sales prospecting.

We chat with Tibor about his keys to sales success, as well as:

  • Choosing to either fall for excuses or execute a strategy
  • Evaluating metrics, and what type of measurement is best
  • Utilizing voicemail effectively
  • The best attitude to make your prospects feel at ease
  • The dynamic of challenging a customer
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and this is Conversational Selling. The podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And as always, it is always starting with the human conversation. Today we speak with Tibor Shanto. He’s the Chief Value Officer of Renbor Sales Solutions. He helps B2B companies translate sales strategy to reality. Tibor’s been called a brilliant sales tactician, obsessed with execution. He developed sales people who understand that success in sales is about execution, and everything else is just talk. He’s the author of two books, you can find him on Amazon, and is also a well known expert of sales prospecting. And Tibor, you know that prospecting is music to my ears. You know, no appointments, no sales, right? And it’s all about prospecting. So welcome to the show, and I can’t wait to get started.

Tibor Shanto: Oh, pleasure to be here, Nancy, thank you for having me.

Nancy: No, it’s, it’s our pleasure. And everyone listening, you’re really going to be in for an interesting conversation. And, you know, why don’t we start with why execution is so important in sales success?

Tibor: Well, I think for a couple of reasons, the obvious one is, you know, things have to get done. And we’ve, you know, we’ve all lived in environments where there’s been maybe a little bit too much emphasis on the academic and the theoretical, all correct, all well, and good. But at one point, you know, things have to be put into motion, if they’re going to have the effect that we’re looking for. So I think a lot of times people tend to overthink things, people tend to, you know, I used to make as a joke that people come with the X chromosome, you know, it’s either execute or make excuses, but either way, you’re going to have one of those.

Nancy: I love that! I’m gonna steal that! Go ahead.

Tibor: Go for it. So you know, you’re still on the domain. Nobody ever died, because, you know, used to ask people to do things, and they look at you, as though you’re asking him to do something dangerous. So you know, it’s pointed out, no one ever died picking up the phone. I like that. So I think that, you know, there’s a lot of talk in sales, and we’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, I’ve probably contribute to some of it. But at one point, you really do have to just do it, like Nike said, to borrow a point. 

Now, the advantage is, if you execute, you can, you know, you can examine, you can see what you did well, you can see what you need to change, and you can measure the results. And you can then compare it to the next time and to the time after that, and through the time after that. But if it’s on the whiteboard, it’s going to stay theoretical. And I’ve worked with a lot of companies of all different sorts. And the ones that seem to do better are the ones that limit the opportunity for the for the excuse side, and make everything available to those people who want to execute.

Nancy: Share some good models of execution.

Tibor: So I think most of the good models that I’ve seen are specifically tied to expected outcomes. Now those could be one of two things, the obvious ones are, you know, quota. Right, so did you attain quota. And I think that’s important than I understand why it’s the main measure. But we all have to admit that that’s lagging indicators. So once you know what the number is, you really can’t change it. You can take lessons into the next cycle as it were. 

So I think people need to look at leading indicators, you know, so I like to look at what’s your quota, how many deals do you need to hit quota? How many, you know, how many proposals do you need to get the number of people saying yes, in order to achieve that quota, and then continue to work all the way back to the number of leads that you’re going to have to have in hand in order to be able to dial the number of numbers that you need to talk to the number of people to get you the appointments that lead to the sale? And as you said at the beginning, you know, no appointment, no story.

Nancy: You got it. And so for those listeners that are thinking of really tightening their process up, and maybe they don’t have the metrics in place or the systems in place. How long do you think they should evaluate the metrics before they really create that plan. How much time do you think it takes to, you know, properly say, well, we need X amount of appointments because we’re in close a certain amount or, you know, and so on. Do you have any advice on that?

Tibor: So I think, to establish, it probably takes a couple of cycles. But I think if I could take a step back, one of the one of the challenges with that question is that if I say six months, people get discouraged. Because, you know, they’re very impatient, right? That’s two whole quarters, right? I think, more importantly, is how do I put a system in place that consistently allows me to examine the metrics that I need to examine to continue to succeed, because, you know, the numbers today are going to be different than the numbers tomorrow, and those are driven by my own ability, the market, you know, let’s face it, our numbers were different in February than they are now because of the obvious events that we’ve all together experienced over the summer. 

So I think rather than figuring out how long it takes, I think the initial one might take you longer to establish than people anticipate, because I do think it takes a cycle or two, because you need to have just some raw inputs to measure. But I think people should look at the dividends that it will continue to pay once it’s up and running, you know, then it continues to pay dividends, and it continues to evolve with you. So I think the question is, you know, how long does it take to get going? And then forget about it, in terms of trying to rebuild it.

Nancy: Yeah, yeah, now, I also, I also read somewhere, which is really interesting, I love the way you put it, that people in sales have to become professional interrupters. And I love that statement. It’s an interesting interpretation of what we have to do when we prospect. Tell us more about that.

Tibor: Well, I think if you look at the marketplace, and I think you know better than most that, you know, most of the people that we’re going to call what, you know, whether we feel they’re fit for our product or not, at that particular moment, probably have their, you know, attention elsewhere. So generally things that they think are important to them based on their business based on their priorities. So chances are pretty good that 70 to 90% of the time, we’re interrupting something that they at the time were immersed in. 

And so I think that if we don’t take that into account for this, I want to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that we’ve all, you know, we all like the term disruption. We all like the fact that we use Uber and iPhones and things that we consider to be disruptive, because those things once a disruption, you know, occurred improved our lives improved our ability to do things. So, you know, that’s why I say people shouldn’t shy away from the fact that we interrupt people, because I think, you know, take a different phrase in English, we are disrupting them. But the end result is going to be that they’re going to be better off as a result. So since we’re not Uber, and we’re not Apple, then we have to go to them. 

And that’s why I say that people have to accept the fact that we do interrupt these people, I think pretending otherwise is going to undermine the craft. But once you accept that you interrupt them, there’s a whole bunch of things you can do to offset that and be a professional in a way that the experience for the prospect even if they don’t engage with you, is not going to be negative.

Nancy: Yeah, yeah. And and so, you know, keeping in line with that, and I love that I find that very, a unique way of looking at what we do, you know, people won’t pick up the phone, just simply because they think they’re interrupting. And maybe they use that as an excuse to not do it. How do you get past that?

Tibor: Voicemail. So you know, it’s, it’s the missing link in prospecting. Because the interesting thing is that if you look, even people who hate cold calling, right, will admit that when you add the telephone to the mix, the conversion rates go up. So you have this paradox, right? People aren’t answering the phone, and I’m one of these people that uses voicemail for triage, right? So it’s not like I don’t think it’s uncommon. I don’t think they’re being evil or communists. 

They’re just protecting their time, right. But I use it too. But as a result, the other habit I develop is I check my voicemail probably every 90 minutes or so. Right? So telephone is still an important element because yes, think of it as being now part of the asynchronous element, part of communication used, telephone used to be very synchronous, I used to talk to you and we went back and forth. Now with voicemail, we can actually move the sale forward without speaking for a couple of weeks, right? 

Through voicemail, email and other things. So I think you need to have an effective voicemail, and we’re talking in the context of prospecting, not once you’re a known commodity to your buyer, but in getting them to call back, you need to have a voicemail approach. And I have a voicemail approach that I learned a long time ago, that works really well. And you know, but people, you know, it leaves people in a very, there’s two camps, they love it, or they hate it. So you know, because it’s very cryptic, and people feel uncomfortable being cryptic these days.

Nancy: I think lesson is more. And when you go into a dump on voice message, unless you’re sitting there in a panic mode, because you need exactly what they have. It’s not likely they’re going to get back to you.

Tibor: No. The purpose of voicemail is to get a call back. But most people, most sales people because they’re nervous, and they’re wound up that when they’re making cold calls are very compliant. So whether the person is live or not, but in this case, Memorex on voicemail, it says, Please leave a detailed message. And most salespeople go, I could do that, and boom, they fill out the voicemail. Right? Right. So but it should be, as you say, you know, less is more, right. 

You know, there’s this whole thing this, I have watched this, and I hope people take this in the humorous sense, but those who remember, Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street Week. There was a guy there who’s who’s a financial analyst, and he said, you know, the thing about financial statements is they’re like, bikinis. What they show you is great, but what they hide is even more mysterious. So, for voicemail should be like that, right? Is that what it shows you should entice you, but what it’s keeping from you, is what should get you to pick up the phone.

Nancy: So my guess is you have a plethora of those one liners, huh?. In your arsenal.

Tibor: You have to keep yourself amused.

Nancy: Yeah, well, you know what, again, I think this is something you and I share in common, I read that it’s so important to have fun in in selling, I’ve got my thoughts. But why is it? Why do you think it’s so important, especially as it relates to sales and prospecting?

Tibor: I think, for a number of reasons, and I would put it all on, you know, if you’re, if you can have fun, then you’re relaxed. And I do believe very strongly that our emotions, our feelings, our whole intonation, and everything does carry across the phone. So if you think of most salespeople, I’m not being negative, but it’s reality that, you know, most of them I wound up in nervous. 

So what’s going to carry across the phone, you know, what’s the intangible energy that goes across the phone? You know, it’s that tension, that nervousness and actually, you know, why is this guy wound up? I should be one that, you know, it is right. But I think that if you if you’re relaxed, and you’re comfortable, and you almost have fun with the fact that hey, you know, I know, I’m interrupting you, dude, but you’re going to be better off as a result, you know, that, that calmness is going to solicit the same there and, and you have a slightly and I emphasize slightly better shot of getting your message across. And if your message was good to begin with, that, you know, things are beginning to go your way.

Nancy: Right. I think it’s safe to say that I in any career, any position, it’s so important to have fun. And that usually I think stems if you have passion in what you do, it’s easier to have fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Tibor: 100%. And I think whether you look at it as an advantage or disadvantage, I always tell people that every conversation I have, I’m the demo. So you know. So you have to if you’re not, you know, if you’re not gonna like it, and it’s gonna be a bad demo every time which doesn’t make for good dinners.

Nancy: Well, I think my next question will be very interesting. You, you have a lot of backup behind you and your one liners. Is there a story that you think the audience would find interesting?

Tibor: In what sense, I think, you know, rather than a story, maybe a storyline that sort of carries through that I will point to sort of present in a lot of my successes. I think that you know, not in a brash way, but in a, you know, much like I was saying humorously that I do believe that when customers, you know, interact with me, there’ll be often some, there’ll be better off in some way. So I think this notion of, you know, not giving up and going an extra distance, or maybe even challenging a customer, and, you know, challenge doesn’t have to be negative, right? You know, like, if, if you and I were both smoking cigarettes, and we challenge each other to quit, you know, that wouldn’t be a negative, right? 

So I think I sometimes look at challenges somehow being us and them, as opposed to can we together overcome something? So I think that if you can, the more experience you have in the more comfortable you are, and your skin, you know, based on our last exchange about being relaxed, the more that I think you can challenge customers, because, again, you’re subject matter experts, you’ve done this before you’ve overcome certain things before and so on. I think that every time I think back about some successes that I’ve had, have always done something that I wasn’t supposed to do if I read the rulebook, or I pushed it and challenged the customer in some ways that, you know, maybe in proper circles at the cotillion wouldn’t have been seen as proper approach. 

But I think that as long as you’re ethical, polite, and legal, I think you should try everything. And I think that maybe is the one storyline that goes through is I could share a number of you know, and I think that that’s led to if I can maybe exemplify I did have the privilege of closing Xerox for a six figure deal on 9-11. So, you know, that came about, I think, because of just, you know, yeah, there’s things going on, but we’re here for a reason.

Nancy: Yeah. Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Tibor: Well, I mean, in context, well, first of all, cold calling is not dead. I did an article for one of the local papers, you know, and I called it Cold Calling Zombies every time they say we’re dead, we come back. Now, I think the other is that, again, it prevents a lot of conversation. So I’m not trying to be provocative. I’m trying to remove barriers to conversations, I think the customer is not always right. I think they’re trying to do the right thing for their company. 

But that doesn’t mean that the route or the method that they picked is necessarily right. And most salespeople have been through more similar transactions than the customers that have, so 9 times out of 10, the salesperson probably has greater knowledge. They’re not smarter, they don’t know better, but they have greater knowledge. And I think, you know, buyer should take greater advantage of that.

Nancy: Interesting. Give us a takeaway, a final comment that you want the audience to walk away with.

Tibor: I think and I learned this somewhere, so I could say I live by it, but I didn’t come up with it. But I would encourage it is that, again, unless it’s a question of a deeply personal nature, whenever you were the buyer, and the question comes to mind, you’re always better off asking it even if it seems trivial, even if you even if you worry about well, if I asked this question, you know, it might, you know, make me seem, you know, it’s an ego thing, like, what do you feel you’re not complete enough and so on. 

But I would bet, I would bet 9 times out of 10. When we look at deals that we lose, we can always point back to something we should have known better or differently. So, again, unless it’s, you know, why would you wear that color tie? Any other question, even if it seems trivial, but it relates to the business, you should ask.

Nancy: Okay, so how can my people find you? And what would they be experiencing right now, that would make them pick up the phone and engage with you.

Tibor: I think it would be an experience if I look at what my clients are telling me is a sustainable systematic approach to prospecting, you know, heavily leaning on the phone, but recognizing that there’s still success to be had with email, LinkedIn and other forms, but I think most people struggle as much with the messaging and how they engage as opposed to sort of the medium whether it’s telephone this that but I do, I do lean on the telephone because I still think it’s the most direct route. So they can expect a more consistent approach to filling their pipeline in a measurably better pipeline.

Nancy: Okay, and how to get to you. Where do they call? How did they find you online?

Tibor: Well, the easiest is That’s T I B O R S H A N T LinkedIn is always good. This year in North America, you can call toll free at 855 25 SALES.

Nancy: Okay 855 25 SALES. Well, a very relaxed conversation with Tibor Shanto. And, you know, I want to leave everyone with this something that Tibor shared. When you sound relaxed in a conversation, it definitely relaxes the person on the other end and my other takeaway Tibor is, becoming different, right? That’s, I think, the essence of what you were sharing with us, don’t be afraid to be relaxed, and go in with the mindset that you can genuinely help them.

Tibor: Yeah, and I think if you go in with that mindset, people will share with you because they want to be helped. And again, that’s not to say that they’re crippled or whatever. But people generally want to work with somebody that’s open to working with them.

Nancy: Yeah, yeah. So thank you so much for being on the show. I’m hoping you’re going to come back in the near future.

Tibor: It was fun. I definitely would come back.

Nancy: Thank you so much, everybody. Happy hunting. Pick up the phone.

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 To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at