Gretchen Gordon | How to Sell More at Higher Prices

Our guest this episode is Gretchen Gordon, award-winning sales management blogger and dynamic speaker. Gretchen started her sales career as a reluctant salesperson but through mentorship, hard work, and perseverance she has become a self-proclaimed “sales nerd” and is widely recognized as a top sales influencer. She is the CEO of Boost Profits, a sales and pricing consultancy firm, and she is here to share some valuable lessons learned from more than 25 years in sales and sales management.

Boost Profits was formed in 2009 in order to help sales teams focus on the role science and data play in elevating revenue and profit through effective price setting. Price can be the quickest way to increase revenue and profit; more impactful in the short run than closing new deals. Gretchen walks through how to price goods and services competitively, including:

  • Signs that your prices may be too low or too high
  • Demonstrating value to prospective customers
  • Strategies for implementing price increases
  • And more

Oftentimes salespeople are worried that price increases will drive away customers and that economic downturns automatically require companies to drop prices for goods and services. Gretchen shows us why these fears are often unfounded and how a different mindset will lead to better returns. Tune in now and turn up your profits!

Mentioned in this episode:


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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese. And yes, it is 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’re speaking with Gretchen Gordon, CEO of Boost Profits, a sales and pricing consultancy like no other. The company was formed as a collaboration of Boost Pricing, a pricing consulting firm that helps clients get paid for the excellence they deliver and Braveheart Sales Performance. A sales transformation firm that combines the art and science of selling to help client companies over achieve. 

Gretchen is not your typical sales consultant or speaker. And actually, sales didn’t come naturally to her. But through her hard work and perseverance ,she became an award winning sales management blogger, dynamic speaker, and has been recognized repeatedly as a top sales influencer. I am pretty sure, almost certain that most of us here didn’t dream about becoming a salesperson when we grew up, so I’m really excited to hear about Gretchen’s sales journey and successes. Welcome to the show.

Gretchen  Gordon: Thank you very much. I’m thrilled to be here. 

Nancy: Yeah, you know, something I read that I had to bring up right away is you describe yourself as a self proclaimed sales nerd. So I’ve heard geek, right, but not nerd. So why is that? 

Gretchen: Well, it all starts with the fact that I was a lifelong nerd, though, first of all, and then progressed into, you know, I had before, you know, founding the predecessor company to Boost Profits, I was in sales and sales management for probably, I don’t know, 25-30 years, something like that. And what really always intrigued me is not just the art of selling, you know, connecting with people and making friends with your prospects and your customers. But what really got me excited was process and how you can actually predict outcomes based on doing certain things, I guess, you know, kind of being, you know, data focused. And, and then, since, you know, starting the company in 2009, I’ve become even more of a nerd around the science and the data, and how it plays a role. It isn’t it isn’t, you know, in a vacuum, but the combination of art and science, and how that really elevates sales teams to excellence.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, they say, focus on the behaviors you can control, and you will get there, right, it’s very much activity driven. I’ve also read that you’re all about mindset. And what I find interesting in your, your new company, Boost Profits, is is really a mix of mindset. Having the right mindset is so important in sales, and especially as it relates to pricing. Can you talk a little bit about that? 

Gretchen: Yes. So through our work, and and we’re, we’re a in full disclosure, here, we’re a one of the top resellers of objective management group, sales assessments, sales evaluations, so they really do a ton of work around data and science as predictors or saboteurs of success in sales. And what we’ve found is that, you know, the easier part of helping sales teams execute at the highest level is having the process having the script, teaching people how to overcome objections, what are you going to say? How are you going to say it? The harder or more nuanced problems have to do with what rolls around in an individual’s head and it really stems from beliefs, motivations, perceptions of the world. A lot of it goes back to our upbringing, and through the combination of our two companies into boost profits. 

What I’ve what I’ve learned and have been really intrigued by with my partner, Casey Brown, she’s a complete and total pricing expert, but not from the perspective that a lot of pricing expertise comes. So a lot of companies out there will do the nitty gritty. Let’s do the number crunching, you know, what should you charge for these products versus those products. But what we found is that sales people, even if you have a very well disciplined approach to you know, our gross margin needs to be x, even if you compensate sales people off of the gross margin, as opposed to the top line revenue, they still figure out ways around it, or they’re, they are willing to decrease their commission, because they’re too uncomfortable having pricing conversations, or they’re uncomfortable, you know, just negotiating price. 

And so that is incredibly impactful, because price can be the quickest way to increase revenue and profits. Because if you just can bump up your price a little bit, sell at the same effectiveness rate. But you bump up the price a little bit, that increase in price drops straight to the bottom line. So it can be, you know, incredibly much more impactful, frankly, in the short run than improving the effectiveness in closing business, believe it or not.

Nancy: Yeah, so what what I’m hearing you say is feeling very confident and competent, about what you do, and what services or products you can offer will help a salesperson, and becoming less challenged when pricing or the pricing question comes up? What would you say there, it’s safe to say that the more confident a person is about their skills, the more I guess, easy a conversation, the conversation becomes when pricing does come up?

Gretchen: Yeah, and actually, yeah, you make a really good point. And, and in addition to that, so being confident being confident about the price that you’re charging for, you know, your products or services, and also being confident in being able to talk to the prospect, let’s say about the value that is delivered. So a lot of it is, you know, what does the customer value, not just what are prices, we’ve seen it a lot, though, you know, recently with, you know, kind of the ups and downs of the pandemic and in different business cycles tend to impact this as well, meaning when the economy goes down, and maybe we feel like there aren’t as many at bat so there aren’t as many opportunities. What right sometimes creeps in is the desire to discount based on fear that if I don’t, I’m going to lose the business. So it’s the opposite of being competent about the price and being able to sell value or the return on the investment with the with the customer or  prospect. 

Nancy: I know that we had perhaps we prepared for this discussion, but I’m really getting into this pricing thing. So how do you know if you’re competitively priced? Is there a trigger a sign or you know, statements and sales conversations that would indicate got to do something about our pricing? 

Gretchen: So, you know, I mean, obviously, the the very anecdotal way is I’m not winning any business at the price or, you know, maybe I’m too high, or I’m, I’m winning every opportunity, I’m probably priced too low. But really, if we dig deeper, it’s it’s not that surface level. It’s really if we’re doing our job, you know, as a salesperson, our job is to help the other party the customer get what they need, want desire, right, regardless of what you’re selling. So if we’re doing our job in the right manner, then what we’re doing is we’re, you know, laser focused on is this the best way for that customer to get what they want, desire, need? Is it the better choice than doing something less expensive, let’s say. 

Is it the better choice than doing nothing. And so then that gets into this whole other conversation about the cost of failure, which is closely related to price and value. So it really, if you can demonstrate the appropriate return on the investment, through your goods and services, then your price, right, if everybody buys that lines up, and you know, it’s super, it’s too easy to demonstrate the return on investment, and you’re probably underpriced. And you know, an easy litmus test is be very prescriptive and be very precise, you know, an increase the price a little bit, you don’t have to increase it by 10%, or 15%. You can increase, crease it by 2%, and see what happens. 

You can increase based on receptivity of the client. The problem is, is that we always, oh, well, we can’t raise prices, because you know, then they’re not going to buy and that everyone just falls into that thought process. The reality is, is that if you’ve done a good job of demonstrating the value, what happens if they don’t choose you? What’s that going to mean to them? You know, what’s the catastrophe that happens? Whatever it is, then, you know, you can you can push a little bit and there’s no harm in selectively saying, you know, I know that you’re, you know, this wasn’t what you thought it was going to cost. 

And if you can’t get someone over the hurdle of paying the price that you feel you need to get for it, there’s no harm in discounting. What the harm is, is in discounting, because we think they’re not going to buy from us at the price that we’ve offered. And that’s really where the mindset comes in, is we have this fear around, those folks are going to walk away if I don’t discount. Well, the reality is, is that that’s very unlikely if you have demonstrated the value of your services. 

Nancy: Well, now I know you have an amazing story you want to share with the audience. So I want to say let’s get the story out.

Gretchen: Okay, so as as you said, Nancy, I don’t consider myself a natural born salesperson. So I wasn’t that person at you know, 11 or 12, who was gung ho to have a paper route and then you know, by 12, or 13, had numerous people working for them, you know, doing the paper route. As a matter of fact, I didn’t realize this at the time what was going on. But, you know, I was I was a girl scout loved everything about Girl Scouts love the camping, love the projects, love the merit badges, you know, loved all that stuff. What I did not like was the cookie sale. And I was, you know, nearly paralyzed. And this is back in the day when you didn’t you know, your troop leader didn’t just set up a table outside the grocery store. 

And people just walked up and bought the cookies. The Girl Scouts actually had to go door to door knocking on doors trying to sell Girl Scout cookies, well, he doesn’t want to buy Girl Scout cookies? But I had this debilitating fear about doing it, you know, nonsensical really, because I might be interrupting their dinner or I didn’t want to intrude or, gosh, they might not want to buy that kind of thing. And and so that was my my first sales job. And I quit Girl Scouts because of it. Which is kind of sad. 

Nancy: I hated selling cookies too. I’m with you.

Gretchen: You did? Okay. All right. So you, you love this. So I didn’t know what I was going to be when I grew up. And, you know, nearing the end of college. I was like, okay, well, I don’t know what I want. So I took some interviews on campus. And then my roommate had always wanted to work for Procter and Gamble. And so I was like, well, I’ll interview with Procter and Gamble. So ultimately, I got the job selling cookies for Procter and Gamble. And other things. Other food products hated it. I hated it. 

And I didn’t hate it because I think that they had a lot of data, a lot of consumer data and that kind of thing back in the day, that great training programs uh, you know, we we practice and all that. I learned I have since learned that I also did not like it because I was feeling like I was imposing on those store managers and those warehouse directors and those types of people that I had to sell to, and it got the better of me, my favorite part of my job was driving from store to store listening to music in my car. So, you know, fast forward, I ended up quitting that job. 

And I did take another sales job, fortunately, and ended up learning from a wonderful mentor, that if I was to inside my head, I was worried about what the other party was thinking, as opposed to being focused on helping the other party get what they needed and wanted. And once I learned that my whole world changed. And that’s really why I’ve, you know, I am where I am now and combine not just the skills, the tactical selling skills, but also the mindset that can be crippling. For so many salespeople out there, and I suspect them I’m not, unlike a lot of listeners, like you said, we find ourselves in sales, not because that’s what we wanted to do when we were a child. But because we ended up there, right? 

Nancy: Yeah, you really triggered a memory I used to just have my father go sell them at his job. Wow, I haven’t thought about that in a long time. So let me let me ask you this. Tell us something that’s true that nobody agrees with you on or almost nobody agrees with you on. 

Gretchen: So there is a lot of discussion about qualifying, and I would you know, from a sales perspective, qualifying your prospects. And I agree with the thought process. I don’t agree with the perspective, I guess I would say. And and the reason I say that is because if you have a very defined qualifying process, then inevitably, what happens is the salesperson is trying to fit the prospect into those buckets, you know, trying to fit sometimes a square peg into a round hole. So I like to, and to be honest, it’s fairly destructive, right? 

We’re like, oh, good. I moved an opportunity along in the pipeline, because I checked another box. I like to view it from the opposite perspective, which is you should go into a sales conversation, trying to disqualify a prospect, and they don’t get the privilege of working with you. If they don’t meet, you know, XYZ, whatever criteria, as opposed to trying to get them to fit the criteria, we’re trying to eliminate prospects from consideration. So that’s a little bit of a contrarian view, I think.

Nancy: You know, what, when I think was the word qualifying, I naturally think of, are they going to fit in what our target audience is. And if they don’t fit in, then we can’t be of service to them. So what you’re saying is, you feel that sales people sometimes qualify, and as you said, might not be the perfect fit, but they still go with it, and move those conversations along.

Gretchen: Yes. And so I you know, just to be clear, I’m very process oriented. But what happens is leadership has a very clear view of what fits and what doesn’t fit. And then what they do is we create, you know, pipeline stages and all that, but it’s generally set up. And so salespeople misinterpret, when there’s too much emphasis on, you know, how many opportunities do you have in the pipeline? And you know, how well qualified is it? And what stage of the pipeline it is. And so what happens is an end, you know, think about it, if they’re heavily commissions, commission’s compensation, then the sales people are absolutely eager to qualify more opportunities, because they want to believe that these opportunities will close and they’ll make money off of it. 

And again, it goes back to mindset, believing what we want to believe about a prospect instead of taking a very skeptical eye and saying, you know, what, my time is too valuable to spend time with that kind of a prospect. And so that’s what that’s what I mean, I think you’re right, I think the better salespeople do a very, you know, they can be very precise, efficient in their qualifying. I just like to throw in, you know, the thought process, like what we really want to do is disqualify not

Nancy: Yeah, I’m with you, 100% on that, and I can’t believe that we’re almost out of time. This has been so interesting. Last question. What is one takeaway, you want to leave every one with today? 

Gretchen: So, you know, I think that the world’s changed. I mean, I’m not just talking about the most current environment, but we know that the marketplace has changed pretty dramatically. And so kind of the old school, let’s tell people what to say and how to overcome objections. And do this, do that do it the way I do, it doesn’t necessarily resonate, you know, we have a much more what some people call a collaborative selling environment. So sales teams need to be the best they can be, because it’s super easy to weed out, you know, sales people calling up and you know, and just ignore them and that kind of thing. 

And so, I am a firm believer and and, you know, this is how we operate. We make sure that any work that we do with our clients, sales organizations, is first a, you know, a diagnosis process, like, what will benefit this team, the individuals on this team to execute in their marketplace, there is not a one size fits all approach, and then tailoring the approach to the situation, the sales organization, that marketplace, so that it becomes ingrained. And it does take a combination of skill sets and mindset to effectively change behaviors in sales teams. 

Nancy: Yeah, and we know that that’s not an overnight development, it takes time and practice. 

Gretchen: Exactly. 

Nancy: So how can my audience find you? 

Gretchen: So the easiest thing is, is our website. And we’re continuing to add things ever, you know, all the time we just merged at the beginning of January. And then my email address is

Nancy: Fabulous conversation. Thank you all for listening in. And thank you Gretchen for letting us hear your voice. Now everyone out there remember reach out to Gretchen and her team when you’re ready to over achieve and you know talk pricing and mindset. Make it a great sales day everyone. So happy you were on Gretchen.

Gretchen: Thanks Nancy. It was great.

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

Kendra Lee | Be a Better Lead Generator

We welcome Kendra Lee to this week’s episode of the Conversational Selling podcast. Kendra is the President of KLA Group and a new business development authority. She helps SMB companies increase revenue through targeted, multichannel lead generation and sales strategies that focus directly on a business’s ideal prospects. She is also an author of multiple sales books and is an in-demand speaker.

Because each potential lead is unique, reaching out only through LinkedIn or email is not enough; we have to do more and we have to do it in coordination with marketing, sales, and delivery teams. Kendra is here to explain the benefits of having a multichannel approach to lead generation and how it results in increased sales and greater revenue. Her Revenue Generating System is a multipart process for filling a company’s prospect pipeline, and Kendra breaks it down for us.

Our conversation is wide-ranging and full of great insights any sales or marketing team member needs to hear, including:

  • How to write emails that people will respond to
  • The importance of communication between teams
  • Her proven process to increase referrals within weeks
  • And more

Get past referral dead-ends, tie your lead generation activities with your sales efforts, and listen now!

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 it always starts with a human conversation. Today we are speaking with Kendra Lee, president of KLA Group. She is an author, speaker and new business development authority. She helps SMB companies increase revenue by using targeting, multifaceted lead generation, and sales strategy that speaks directly to ideal prospects and highlights her clients’ uniqueness. She is the author of the books The Sales Magnet and Selling Against the Goal. 

KLA Group has assisted business owners, marketing teams, and sales teams in increasing referrals more than 328% in just seven weeks, moving from solution selling to consultative selling in only nine months, and engaging technical and non sales people in uncovering new opportunities and increasing annual revenue. She is a big believer that sales is not an art, it can be learned. So wow, there is so much to cover today. Let’s get started. Welcome to the show, Kendra. 

Kendra Lee: Well, thank you for having me, Nancy, I’m really looking forward to this. 

Nancy: Well, ditto here. And, you know, I just love that you’re all about first time appointments. So let’s let’s dive in. In doing research, I know that you use multi channel approach to lead generation. I’m a big fan of that. Why is this approach necessary? And why is it effective?

Kendra: You know, as we look at all the different ways that you could reach a person, and even knowing target marketing and personas and all of that every person is still unique. And they may or may not respond to a phone call right now. They’re not responding as much as we would like, they may or may not respond to an email, what if the email doesn’t reach them, they may be checking LinkedIn, or they may not they may attend a webinar, or they may just signed up. So we just don’t know where they’re going to be. And using all these different approaches to try and reach people increases the chance that we’re going to hit on the one that they do pay attention to. So I believe that you need to try as many different ways as possible to reach a person. 

Nancy: Yeah. And it does one seem to be more successful over another?

Kendra: I would have said email. But LinkedIn, I think is almost equal to that now. However, you have to have the phone call so that they’ve heard that you’ve tried to reach them. And they’ve heard a voicemail. And even if they didn’t hear the voicemail that they read it because it was transition, you know, translated, they still knew you tried to call and chances are they’re going to listen to the voicemail anyway. So yeah, you know, you need all three, at least of those.

Nancy: Yep. Now, I, again, I’m a big fan of everything that you just said. And of course, for me, it’s the human voice that I think very often can make a difference as well, because you can hear that person in an email, right? Or a text.

Kendra: Absolutely. They hear how interested you are and they hear your passion. They hear a real human. And sometimes the emails are more stilted. 

Nancy: Yeah. So you you have this amazing system called revenue generating system. Can you tell the audience a little bit about that?

Kendra: Yes, it is how you look at your lead generation and your sales combined. So that you can get from generating a lead all the way to closing a sale. And so we look at that as the revenue generation system. And okay, and if you thought about it, there’s marketing or there’s lead gen, you know, whoever does that, and then there is the selling activity. And oftentimes people separate those. Well, we don’t. We say you can’t be successful at your marketing and lead generation, if you don’t have somebody who’s doing the sales that you can hand it off to. And I don’t care if that’s the business owner, or it’s a sales person, but somebody’s got to be focused on doing something with the leads they’re generating. And that’s the revenue generating system.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, it sounds so simple, right? And yet, many organizations struggle with a fractured marketing team and sales team. And what I mean by fractured, there’s not the communication to one another. Doesn’t there have to be consistent communication amongst all the teams, so that everybody is aware of what everybody else is doing?

Kendra: Yes. And we, as you mentioned, work with smaller companies, the companies we work with tend to be between 1 million and 85 million in annual revenue. And it’s those size companies, it’s easier to make sure that you’re having those conversations, because your teams are smaller, the larger the organization gets the much more fractured they become, because marketing is its own silo. Sales is its own silo. And it’s amazing when we’re working with our larger clients in that 80-85 million size, you know, sales doesn’t even know that marketing’s running a campaign unless somebody says, wait a minute, we should tell sales. 

Nancy: It’s like common sense, isn’t. It is let everybody know what you’re doing? 

Kendra: Yes. And what’s interesting is we can be talking to marketing, because we have, we have a client that is desperately trying to run Google ads. And they have not been getting results from their Google ads. Well, in talking with them, they cannot articulate what their business problem is on the marketing side. So to try and get results from their Google Ads isn’t gonna work if they can’t articulate what the problem is, that would cause somebody to want to even call them, let alone click on an ad. So and who knows that, but sales. So it’s really important that the two are talking because sales has critical information that will make marketing successful. And marketing has the tools to warm up all these people to create the leads the sales wants to call. So that communication is really important.

Nancy: Yeah. You know, going back to what we spoke about earlier about emails, you you had mentioned that you used to feel that email was the best form of outreach. And every listener, I’m sure today, on this podcast, they’re getting bombarded with emails daily. It’s like email overload. And you speak about, and I don’t know if you have a program on this, but email sales prospecting, proven strategies to break the delete barrier. I love it. Can you share some tips?

Kendra: Yes, we do have a training called email power prospecting. It’s a two session training that teaches reps, how to specifically for salespeople on how to write emails that people will respond to, email is still a favored tool to get people to reply. Because, you know, your, your prospect, frankly, can be watching TV and checking their email and reply, or really laying in bed and checking their email and send a reply. But you have to have written your email in a way that they’re going to open it. So, tips I would offer, focus on the problem you think they have, that’s why you’re emailing, you’re not emailing to introduce yourself as their rep. You’re not emailing to tell them that you’ve got a solution. And if they need it, they should reply. You’re not emailing to say, hey, we’re connected in LinkedIn. And I’d like to tell you all about what I do. So here’s the link to my calendar. 

Nancy: Right. Right. Right.

Kendra: You’re not emailing for any of those things. 

Nancy: Yeah. Well, what you’re saying is it’s not about you, it’s got to be about them. All the messaging has to be has to touch somebody in a way that would make them say, Hmm, they know what I’m going through. Let me give them a call or let me reply. 

Kendra: Exactly. And when you focus on that problem that uses fact they may have because you know other companies like them or other titles, executives like them, then when you hit on the problem that they really are grappling with right now, they’re going to be more likely to respond. That would be my first tip. My second would be keep your emails really short. Leave the longer ones for your marketing team, who also should be keeping them shorter. But leave the longer ones for the marketing teams, keep yours shorter. 

Nancy: My team knows if they send me a book, it’s never going to get read. Oh, my gosh, I won’t do it. I won’t do it. I just delete it. 

Kendra: I wrote a blog post one time, Nancy, that’s called why I hate long emails. 

Nancy: You should re post it. Re post it.

Kendra: It’s time to revisit that you’re right, I need to do that. 

Nancy: That’s right. So you know, when we were speaking earlier, and one of the things I love to capture in these calls, is what what sets my guests apart. And I know we talked about integrating sales and marketing, right? By doing that you generate leads, you’ve also shared with me give it a year, and you’ve got to be diligent at both. Why does it take that long? 

Kendra: You often don’t have any name recognition with your prospects. So that’s one in that we have to keep continuing to try and reach them. At the same time, you are honing your knowledge of your target market. And as you do that, all of your outreach gets even better. So those are two that relate directly to the process that you’re using to try and reach people. The other is, it’s just it’s the law of numbers. We have a list, we are making our way through the list with both our lead generation and our sales prospecting. And it takes that amount of time to reach enough people that you can fill your pipeline. So in that year, you’re building name recognition, you’re nurturing a group of prospects. They’re starting to pay attention to you. They’re realizing you’re not going to go away. And they start to talk to you. It takes a year. 

Nancy: Persistence. 

Kendra: Persistence.

Nancy: Professional persistence, right? 

Kendra: Professional persistence, using that multi channel approach. 

Nancy: Yeah. You know, I’m going to go back to my introduction, because I’m looking at it. How can you possibly increase referrals more than 328% in just seven weeks. Everybody pen and paper, this is hot stuff.

Kendra: So this is great, because it’s a perfect example of integrating marketing and sales. As we work with clients on their referrals. What we want is marketing, doing a referral campaign, where they’re asking for referrals, and sales is following up on that campaign. But that’s not enough. Because that’s just the campaign. That’s only one thing. Remember, I’m all about multiple ways that we can attack a problem. And the campaign is one. The other is changing the mindset within the organization that referrals are really important. 

So now we’ve got marketing, doing a campaign, we’ve got sales, who’s going to follow up on the campaign. At the same time, we adjust the account management process, to ask for referrals as part of regular touches with clients. And with your delivery team, whoever is doing the work for the client, whether it’s a service is the product, whoever is interfacing with the client at solving that problem, is also asking for referrals. So now you’ve got the primary teams within your company, all focused on referrals. And when you build it into your marketing process, your sales process, your account management process and your delivery process. You get that increase. 

Nancy: Okay, just a simple marketing will send an email out. This is what we do. Who can you recommend? 

Kendra: Yep, this is but this is what we do. We grow primarily through referrals. Who would you refer like yourself that we could, we should be working with. And guess what? The first time they’re going to say I can’t think of anybody.

Nancy: Of course. 

Kendra: Okay, so this is like cold calling. Are we going to give up after the first call? 

Nancy: Nope. 

Kendra: No. That means and it’s really interesting, because we’ll get clients who say, well, we sent the referral campaign and nobody, everybody said they didn’t know anybody. Well, of course they did. You’ve never asked for a referral before they have no idea. It’s like going to your neighbor and, and asking them who they would refer. They know very little about who you’re looking for why you want a referral? Who should I refer to you? What would you do for them? They don’t know anything. 

So you have to have a whole process around it. We’re gonna ask for referrals. We’re gonna thank them very much that, hey, we absolutely understand that you, you might not know anybody, think about these types of people. These are the types of people these are the types of problems you know, just listen for those. And as you hear them, let me know. And I’ll ask you again.

Nancy: Right. How often do you ask? 

Kendra: In a campaign, I would do no more than quarterly. And then you could do every six months. The problem with every six months is they forget. So in a campaign like I, like we’re talking about, I would do quarterly. In sales, I would do it more frequently. Like if you’re out in your account management, and you’re doing, say, a monthly meeting with them. I don’t know that I would ask every month, although I might in the beginning. At least every other month, is what I’d say.

Nancy: Yeah, I know, one of the things we do here, in each and every call in our and our cold call efforts is we always ask for referrals, we can’t be a resource to them right now. And you’d be surprised how many people will stop, think and recommend. Because nothing to ask. Right? 

Kendra: Exactly. All they can say is no. And their their immediate response is, oh I don’t know anybody. And so that’s an objection. Right? So if you get past that and say, oh, you know, people like this, and you describe it, describe the ideal referral that you would like, then they might say, oh, well, you should contact John, over at ABC Company, because I heard he needs to do this. 

Nancy: That’s right. Yep. I love it. You know, I could spend hours with you, I want to spotlight something for you. What would you like to talk about?

Kendra: How about the multi channel approach? And the lead gen because we work with clients that that very front end around? How are you going to drive those leads that you can then pass to sales? And then of course, we work with the sales team on how are they going to? How are they going to catch them? But maybe we should talk about that lead generation part. 

Nancy: So lead generation and sales. People might be confused of the two. A lead is an interest, is that correct? And it could be coming through your website, or a referral? Or do you consider a lead just a name and a title and a phone number? 

Kendra: I do not consider just a contact a lead. I consider that to be a contact in your database. And ideally, they fit a profile of a market that you want to target. So there’s a right size, right industry, if you’re industry focused, right geography, you know, they fit who your ideal client would be. To me. There are several types of leads. When we think about marketing, you have both inbound and outbound leads. So that just determines how they arrived at you. In marketing and sales, what you really care about are marketing qualified leads, which means marketing generated this lead, but we don’t know yet. If it’s a sales opportunity. So then it gets passed to sales, who qualifies it and now moves it into the pipeline, and that’s a sales qualified lead. 

Nancy: Got it.

Kendra: Typically the sales qualified lead occurs after the first call. You don’t know that they’re qualified completely prior to that somebody has to them and actually determined yes, they are that size. Yes they have that need. Yes, we can fulfill it. So if we talk about the difference between sales and marketing, we work on both sides. On the marketing side, we are driving the leads. So we’re putting the lead generation strategy in place. What are the different channels we’re going to use to reach our target market? Who are our target markets? What is the strategy that we’re going to implement? What’s the content, we’ll write the emails, we’ll send search engine optimization, website changes, you know, all the things that go in to attract that first marketing, qualified lead. 

And then, on the sales side, what we find is sales will get these marketing qualified leads, and then they’ll say, these aren’t any good, they won’t return my call, or I talked to them and they’re not qualified. When we get underneath it, what we discover, and I’m sure you’ve seen this, Nancy, is, the reps don’t really know how to have the conversation with the lead. They don’t know how to qualify it and generate a deeper interest, such that they recognize the opportunity. So we train them in that. So on the marketing side, we run it for them. On the sales side, we’re going to train the business owner or the sales person, how to prospect more effectively.

Nancy: Yep. And it is all about the quality of the questions. You determine number one, are they indeed, a fit? As you’ve mentioned, two, are they experiencing an issue we can solve? And three, are we speaking with the decision maker, right? And are they motivated enough to keep the conversation going? So that that’s a great overview. I appreciate that. And I cannot believe, once again, we are running out of time. If we had one takeaway, one takeaway, that we would all walk out of this podcast with, what what would it be? What would you like to share?

Kendra: When you come by the lead generation activities that you are doing to reach a broader audience with your sales, and you’re working very tightly together, that you will build this healthy pipeline? I said, it takes a year. Hang in there, do those things work closely together, and you will build that pipeline that leads to closing more business. 

Nancy: And I think we’re all for that right everyone? I just listen, how can my audience find you? 

Kendra: Well, I have to give a phone number first. The best way is by phone. 303-741-6636 is our phone number. And you of course can find me on LinkedIn at Kendra Lee or email Reach out in any one of those ways. Multi channel.

Nancy: Yes we’re all gonna be that multi channel group now for the rest of the day. And you know I want to thank everyone for listening in but especially thank you Kendra for joining the program and sharing your knowledge of in the sales and marketing community. I’ve walked away myself now with several nuggets and to all the listeners reach out to Kendra when you’re ready for more first time appointments, you need a system put in place and when you’re ready to get things right. Make it a great sales day, and Kendra, you’ve got to come back on the show.

Kendra: I would love that. Thank you. This was a lot of fun. I appreciated being here.

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

John Asher | The 5 Factors for Success in Sales

Our guest on this week’s episode is author, speaker, and CEO John Asher. His company, Asher Strategies, offers sales advisory services to clients all over the world. Working with Vistage, an international network of CEOs, John has presented best practices in sales, sales management, and marketing. And his team has trained over 80,000 executives, salespeople, and managers in almost two dozen countries over the past 19 years. The author of Close Deals Faster and The Neuroscience of Selling is here to talk with us about all things sales.

Solution selling is dead. The idea of building rapport, conducting a needs analysis of the buyer, and then offering a solution that fits no longer works in today’s business world. While the average salesperson is a passive listener and good salespeople are active listeners, elite sellers are the ones who now practice perfect listening. No one stays at the top without training, especially with so much new information emerging in the field of sales. John breaks down the techniques that have replaced solution selling, including:

  • How to become a perfect listener
  • The five factors for sales success
  • Identifying the right time to close a deal
  • And much, much more

John is truly a wealth of experience and information. He has helped so many salespeople get to the top of their game in the ever-changing landscape of modern sales. His approaches are backed by science and proven in the field. Become a more successful seller by becoming a perfect listener and listen now!

Mentioned in this episode:


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

Nancy Calabrese: Hello, it’s Nancy Calabrese. And it is 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. Speaking with us today is John Asher CEO and master facilitator of Asher Strategies, which offers sales advisory services. John is an experienced international speaker on sales, sales management and marketing for Vistage a worldwide network of CEOs. He co-founded an engineering firm in 1986. He and his team grew the company at a compounded growth rate of 42% per year for 14 straight years. 

During his tenure as CEO, the company acquired seven other engineering and software development companies. His team’s sold the company in 1997. After growing, I believe the I’m looking at this number right growing annual revenue to 165 million. In 1998, he co-founded a sales advisory services practice that has grown into a global leader in sales strategies. And these strategies include sales, sales management and marketing. His team has trained over 80,000 executives, sales people, and other customer facing managers in 22 countries over 19 years. The only word that comes to my mind right now is wow! I’m not even sure where to begin. But to say wow, again, welcome to the show, John.

John Asher: Great to be on Nancy. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Nancy: Oh, my goodness. So I I’ve been looking so looking forward to this conversation. And, you know, one in learning more about you over, you know, over time, I love the name, or I don’t know if it’s a tagline or your company name close deals faster. I mean, that’s every sales person’s dream, right? That’s every CEOs vision. Tell us more? I mean, how do you close deals faster?

John: So it was a little interesting history about that as it was my my second sales book. First of all, I actually wrote I quote, it was co authored by me and my GM in China and in Mandarin. And, and the title of the book was How to do Business with the West. Advice for Chinese Salespeople. And I wrote the second book in the US, it was called the Top 10 skills of the Elite Salespeople. And Ingram, the publisher, went out to his 40 salespeople and had a brainstorming and said he liked the title or is there a better title? And they came back and said, You need to call this book Close Deals Faster. So it wasn’t my idea, actually, it was the publisher’s idea to change it from my preferred title to their’s. So of course, we go over their’s.

Nancy: Well, it is catchy for sure. What’s the trick or any tips? You know, I’m sure we could go on for hours and hours. But anything jumped to mind that you really believe a salesperson should focus on first?

John: Well, if you if you just pick one of the 10 skills, one of the most important almost every salesperson knows this is to be a great listener. Great salespeople are not great talkers. They’re great listeners. And there’s always been two types of salespeople. And if you go back to the harbor data, there’s about 25 million salespeople in the us right now. And there’s two 80/20 rules that are associated with them based on harbor data. The first is 5%, are elite, five land and 20% are not very good. And their turnover rates about a third per year. The second 80/20 rule is those top 20% the elite are again, 80 percent of the new business. Right? Let’s compare the listening skills of the elite salespeople and the average. The average are typically passive listeners meaning, listen, just enough to start interrupting and talking about what you can do. Active listeners have always been keep asking questions. Keep trying to figure out what the buyer needs totally before you respond. Right. Always. And that that’s that’s a key skill. 

Now with all these neuroscience studies Nancy, active listening has been picked up to a whole new level. Yeah, perfect listening. Yeah. And if you’re a perfect listener, and you do those three techniques, as the end of a discovery process, the buyer will say something like this, wow, you have a perfect understanding of our needs. You’ve actually helped me understand what we need. This has been such a great collaboration. Thank you so much. So to the end of the story about listening, the elite salespeople now use three techniques to be the perfect listener. Accurate listening is one. Second, ask permission to take notes and take notes. And third, summarize it back to the buyer as many times as it takes the buyer to say you got it. I guess it’s actual statistics that backs it up. 90% of the sales people get it that you really ought to take notes, only 10%. And only 2% summarize the feedback. That’s probably the most important skill.

Nancy: You know, they seem pretty simple. And listening to it. Why? Why are most salespeople challenged with doing that?

John: As my wife says, frequently, you can’t fix stupid.

Nancy: I like to think that not, you know, most of us aren’t stupid, but there seems to be a hesitancy or just lack of interest.

John: Just a lack lack of training, in my view, in my experience, once you start doing it, using the three techniques ask permission to take notes, take notes, summarize and feed it back. And don’t do that until you thoroughly understand what the buyer needs. And then you watch your closing rates go sky high, when you start using the technique, it’s just like a no brainer.

Nancy: I’ve also read that I really loved what I’ve written when I read this, no one stays at the top without training. Isn’t that true? Tell me where that came from and give share your thoughts on why it’s so important to keep polishing your skills.

John: Well, what is that they say sales training. That’s what we’re talking about. There’s so much new information coming out. I give you one example. So there’s a worldwide forum of neuroscientists in 70 country, countries sharing their expertise, sharing their research. Sharing our experiments. And many of the now we’re done with what are called functional MRI machines. So imagine a buyer sitting in a chair with a helmet on and there’s an MRI machine built in. You show the buyer a picture, you ask the buyer a question, you show the buyer or short video, you make a statement to the buyer. And then you can see when the oxytocin circuit lights, up the dopamine circuit, the serotonin circuit. When nothing happens. When more than one light at the same time. So now we have real science behind sales. So sales people haven’t caught up with that and had this new neuroscience based sales training. They’re behind the competition. You got to keep trying new stuff happens all the time.

Nancy: Oh, yeah. Interesting. You also have a segment I found online about the five factors for success in sales, can you share what those are?

John: It’s really simple. So if you if you go back to the elite salespeople, all five of the following factors are in alignment. One, great product knowledge. Gives them power and confidence. They can really add value to prospects and suspects. Two, they have a natural talent for sales. You can’t you can’t change your talent, right? The leopard doesn’t change his spots. So back to good to great get the right people on the right seat on the bus based on natural talent. Though product knowledge must be learned natural talent or sales aptitude is we’re born with what we got. The third is selling skills, which must be learned. The fourth is motivation. Fairly, fairly complex aspect, there are three parts to it. 

One is people’s natural motivation. Two is the environment they’re selling in. So during COVID when sales went down by 90% for some companies, what happened the motivation of their salespeople right? In the tank. Yep, to the third part of motivation is who’s the sales manager. And if you go look at these various Gallup studies, one of them was 800,000 managers in three million people. One of the results was people will stay with a great manager in a bad company. They will not stay with a bad manager in a great company. So the third, the third, the fourth aspect, motivation has three components. And then the fifth is the processes and technology and tools that the company provides for the salespeople. So product knowledge, natural talent, selling skills, motivation, process, technology and tools. When you see all five of those in alignment, now we’re talking about the elite sales people.

Nancy: Yeah. So you think elite sales people are natural, naturally born, they have it within them.

John: Elite sales people are naturally born and made. In other words, all five factors are in alignment. When you go back to the five factors and ask what’s your most important? What’s the most important one and blah, blah, blah. So if you integrate, if you have a big meta analysis, a summary of a bunch of studies from sales, and HR Institutes, aptitude accounts for 50% of results, and the other 50% is the other four factors. So aptitude ain’t everything, but it is pretty significant. For the best sales people are born and made. Yeah, born meaning they got the natural talent and made means they’ve got the skills, they got the product knowledge, and they got the tools and know how to use them.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, I want to go to the question I asked you to think about which is sharing your unique idea that is different and sets you apart? What is that?

John: Well, it’s actually not my idea. But there was a article in the Harvard Business Review must be three years ago. And the title of the article was, of course, provocative to get people to read it. And the name of the article was Solution Selling is Dead. Pretty provocative, right? And solution selling has been around probably for 15 years. Sometimes it’s called consultative selling. And the big breakthrough happened when, instead of salespeople just starting with presentations, the whole idea of their idea was to be a solution seller or consultant, meaning that three step process, build rapport, make the buyer comfortable with you, doing these analysis discovery process, find out what the buyer needs, and three offer a solution as the term solution selling opera solution. 

I agree, and everybody kind of knows that. Pretty much now. Not all of the not so good salespeople, but the elite salespeople certainly know that. So here’s a little bit of a background behind the article. I mentioned these neuroscience studies, essentially worldwide now. And there’s huge collaboration of them in 70 countries. So the the, the knowledge increases exponential. We now know from these functional MRI studies, that by the way, it the science behind sales now tells us what techniques we’ve been using that are correct. Tells us how to improve some of those techniques, and also tells us some of the techniques that we’ve been using are exactly the wrong thing to do. That’s why I’m an engineer engineers. That’s why I really love the science behind the sales. So that has been the art of the sale the sales process now we have the art, the process and the science. And yeah, here’s, here’s one of the results of the science. 

There are six activators that will wake up the buyers decision making brain. So we all have three parts of the brain a rational part, facts, figures, complex thinking, our conscious brain. And we have two parts of the unconscious or old brain one’s instinct to the reptilian brain and the other is emotional brain. And we now know that I’m sure you’ve heard the term we buy on emotion and justify with logic. Yep, so there’s six ways to wake up the buyer’s old brain. So they’ll they will like you and they want to do business with you. And you’ve really alerted them that something important is coming. And one of those six is called me, me, me focus. In other words, we’re all focused on ourselves. So when you go back, millions and millions of year, no, no species survive through evolution without being focused on their own safety. So it’s true for all of us. We’re all focused on our own safety, our own success, our own happiness, her own family. 

Just everybody kind of knows that. Well, when you put that in a buyer selling context, when salespeople are all focused on themselves and what they’re selling, it ain’t waking up to buyer’s old decision making brain. But the salesperson can, can make it focused on the buyer, then the whole thing will shift. So a good example would be a presentation. So if when you are going to meet with a new buyer, and instead of the solution, sell it and build rapport, do a needs analysis. So build rapport, of course, but then instead of at least starting with a needs analysis, and you’re kind of 15 questions that you know, you need to ask to get to the bottom of everything. In many cases, now, buyers savvy buyers, know there’s so much information about their company about them about their competition on the internet. 

They get impatient with the 15 questions of their discovery analysis. They’re saying to themselves, why does this salesperson know more about us and our competition and where we stand. So now let’s go back to the harbor sales department forty four years, the Harvard neuroscience laboratory 10 years, as you can imagine, they talk to each other now. So if you are the salesperson, and you will use to get ready to start the needs analysis, you say something like this, here is our understanding of your needs, bullet, bullet, bullet. Whatever they are. Do I had this about right? Then, based on the neuroscience studies at Harvard, you don’t have to have it exactly right. If you had a pretty well nailed, in 95% of the cases, it causes a big conversation between the buyer and the seller. 

And then after that conversation is over, maybe you have three or four questions left to ask, you have to ask all 15 questions now. Maybe only a few more. And if you had a slide deck of 23 slides to show how many slides you have to show now. Maybe three or four. And it won’t be a random three or four, either. There’ll be just the three or four that relate to how the conversation is going. So that’s what I mean by solution selling is dead. As I said I wouldn’t sell brands and I made it up. It’s actually another Business Review article. And that’s, that’s what they mean.

Nancy: What they mean it’s all about them. Them them them.

John: Correct. Make it all about them, them, them.

Nancy: Yeah. Lose the me, me, me and focus on them. What is something and I think we kind of touched on this, but what is something you would want us wants to spotlight? Besides your good looks?

John: That is debatable. That’s for sure.

Nancy: Well, they can’t see us unfortunately.

John: Yeah. Yay. Like, ah, yeah. Well, the probably the second most important skill after listening would be closing. Now is knowing when is the right time to close knowing how to interpret the vocal from the buyer and knowing how to interpret the buyer’s body language. And knowing that you have to you can’t try to close before the buyer’s ready because it’s a total turnoff. And once the buyer is ready, if you don’t try to close the buyer, wondering what’s going on. It doesn’t take too long before you lose the opportunity. And buyers and buyers don’t want untrained salespeople who since they’re like to to sure when the buyer’s ready, will kind of beat around the bush and hope the buyer will close themselves. As you know, hope is not a good, good strategy.

Nancy: Hopeism. Haven’t you heard that term?

John: I have. And so the buyer wants to definitive closing approach something like this. Would you like to get this project started on the 5th of May? Any ambiguity there? There’s no ambiguity, you just directly ask him for the for the deal. And there’s nine other ways to close and I’m sure you’ve heard the alternative close and the assumptive close. You know and on and on. So the great salespeople have those 10 closing approaches in their back pocket or up their sleeve. And they recognize when the buyer is ready and how to get them and what they need to do to get them ready. That’s probably number two skill and importance after listening. Yeah, and frankly, if you don’t do great listening, you’ll never get anywhere near close.

Nancy: I totally, totally agree. And I can’t believe we’re at the end of our show. I want to be sure to get one or two other comments out here. What is one takeaway you want to leave the audience with?

John: If you want to get to the top of the game as a salesperson, be the perfect listener. That has to be a total active listener, don’t start talking or enter. The worst is interrupting. Don’t start talking about what you can do, until you thoroughly understand what they can do. Ask permission to take notes and take notes. And when you think you got it all summarize and feed it back.

Nancy: Yep. Great, great advice. Great advice, John. How can my audience find you?

John: Well you can find me on LinkedIn, that’s easy. So John Asher. Just go to LinkedIn and everything you need to know and probably more than you want to know. That’s probably the best and easiest way to go. You know, there’s 760 million people on LinkedIn now.

Nancy: I love it.

John: So right, why not? Why give out phone numbers and email addresses anymore with LinkedIn?

Nancy: You don’t need a business card, that’s for sure. Yes to text and do everything electronically. Well, listen, I really want to thank you, John, for being on and to my audience. Thank you so much for listening in. Everyone have a fantastic sales day. And we remember, you want to be elite. John’s your man. Pick up the phone, give him a call. Hook up with him on LinkedIn. Thanks again, John.

John: Thank you, Nancy. Great to be with you and then we’ll get you on our podcast sometime in the near future. 

Nancy: Well, I’m gonna have to study up for that one. I can’t wait.

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

Wendy Thomas | Influencing Results Through Your Mindset

On this week’s episode of Conversational Selling, our guest is Wendy Thomas, Founder of Wendy Thomas Coaching. Wendy is a corporate and personal coach with a positive and infectious energy that inspires people to become more engaged, productive, and successful. Her Thinking into Results program helps businesses make changes that lead to positive growth and allows individuals to become stronger, more connected, leaders for tomorrow. Her passion is contagious and her insight into mindset helps her clients realize their full potential.

Mindset impacts all aspects of our life and business, especially when times are tough. How are our conscious and subconscious minds connected to the world around us? How do our subconscious thoughts impact our body, behavior, and results? Can a pessimist become an optimist? And, can we have control over our success through the types of thoughts we invest our energy in? Wendy discusses her answers to each of these questions and shares further insights into the following:

  • The ability to influence outcomes through our mindset
  • The importance of having big dreams
  • How to reset a negative mindset
  • And more

Wendy is a real yes-you-can gal. Yes, you can control your mindset. Yes, you can dream big and achieve it. Yes, you can realize your full potential. Positivity wins every time; listen now!

Mentioned in this episode:


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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone. It’s Nancy Calabrese, and it is time for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today, and it always starts with the human conversation. Joining us today is Wendy Thomas, Founder of Wendy Thomas Coaching. Wendy is an inspiring corporate and personal coach who helps individuals and teams realize their full potential through a change in mindset. Her Thinking Into Results program will help businesses grow and make permanent changes in their habits and behaviors. And it will create stronger, more connected leaders for tomorrow. Now, prior to launching Wendy Thomas Coaching, Wendy spent 18 years in financial services working at Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and FactSet. And most recently, Wendy led FactSet Canada in developing effective strategies for growth, talent acquisition, team building and operational effectiveness. Mindset impacts all facets of our life, especially in sales, and especially when times get tough. And I’m so excited to hear what Wendy has to say about the benefits and necessity of a positive mindset. Welcome to the show, Wendy. 

Wendy Thomas: Oh, thank you, Nancy. It’s so lovely to be here today.

Nancy: Well, we are excited. I think mindset has played played such an important role, especially in the past year. And I know that we’re going to get into that more deeper. But what why don’t we begin by talking about your incredible corporate experience? And how that led you to open your own business?

Wendy: Sure. Thanks, Nancy. I’ll start back in year 2000. Back in boom era. I was graduating from Duke University. And the reality is I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I didn’t know which industry to go into. But what I knew that I wanted at the time was to be in an organization that had amazing people and great energy about it. And as luck would have it, Bloomberg, the financial media company were recruiting on campus. I was lucky enough to get an interview on campus through Bloomberg. A couple of weeks later, they flew me to their corporate headquarters in New York. And I don’t know if anyone on the audience has been to a Bloomberg office. But it is pretty spectacular, amazing food courts, koi fish ponds, I felt like I was in an incredible like airport terminal. And I looked around and I said, sign me up. I want to be part of this amazing organization, I could just feel the energy, I wanted to be around a young and diverse group of people. 

And again, as luck would have it, I got an offer from Bloomberg. And little did I know at that time, but that offer would lead me down an almost 20 year career in financial services. So I spent 11 years at Bloomberg covering some of their biggest customers in the northeast and Canada. And at the time, I met my now Canadian husband, who spoke so highly of Canada and raising a family in Toronto. So I decided with my husband to move up to Toronto 10 years ago, when I resigned from Bloomberg. And when I came to Toronto, I got a call from Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg’s biggest competitor. And they asked me to be part of their growing organization here in Toronto. So I spent four years at Thomson Reuters again, really loving sales really loving, connecting to people, you know, just thriving in that environment. And after four years there, I got a call from my old boss of Bloomberg. He’s a big mentor to me, and recruit, he recruited me to run the FactSet Canada office. 

And I think I had massive imposter syndrome at the time. I think so many people on this podcast can relate to feeling like an imposter. I had two young kids at the time and felt that I couldn’t do it. But having a mentor and somebody believe in you is so critically important to succeeding in the corporate world because he inspired me and, you know, he encouraged me to join FactSet and to run their Canadian operation, and it was the best decision I’ve made in my corporate career. Because for the next three years, I felt that I was, you know, firing on all cylinders. I had an amazing career. I had executive sponsorship, and we really grew the Canadian office. And I always say how do you manage a professional high was an all time personal low. 

Because two days before my 40th birthday on Friday, January 26, 2018, to be exact, I remember the day, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I sat in front of the radiologist, who told me that I had an angel that was looking out for me, because I thought that I’d found something on my right hand side, she came in and said, you found something on your right hand side, but there’s nothing there. There’s something on your left hand side. And I know in that moment that my late father had, you know, inspired me and I had this intuition that something wasn’t right. And my late father had always said, with adversity, there’s an opportunity. And I just had his words in the back of my mind. And I thought, what is this message? What is this meaning? So it was a frightening couple of days, weeks and months ahead. Three surgeries later, and happy to say that I’m cancer free. But I will never forget how lucky I was to have gotten ahead of a cancer monster. 

Because if I hadn’t followed my intuition, things would have been very different. What the cancer diagnosis really allowed me to do was to think about my life and to dig deep and understand like what I been good at. So I took some time off of the summer for my surgery. And I started to study myself and really think, what have I been good at, in the last 20 years? I’ve loved being in the corporate world, I’ve loved working with three amazing companies. But what I’ve been really good at is my ability to connect to people and inspire them with my positive and infectious energy. And what I noticed that when I inspired people with my positive energy, they felt good about themselves. And when people feel good about themselves, they feel inspired, if all excited, if engaged and ultimately product productive. 

So with productivity that drives revenue, and then, you know, think further, and that ultimately led me down the road of, you know, starting my own coaching business, I realized that nothing would ever be as scary as what I’ve been through in the last year. And I’d always wanted to do my own business. And I thought now is the time. So at the end of 2018, I resigned from FactSet, which was a very hard decision, because I absolutely loved my time there. And I started my own coaching business in 2019. So a bit of a long story, Nancy, but here I am I’m incredibly passionate about what I do. And I love helping people realize their true potential through a change in mindset.

Nancy: Yeah, what your passion comes through for sure. And passion, to me is contagious. When the audience goes to your website, you got some wonderful quotes on it. And one in particular, I really love: think of your thoughts like veggies at a mind market, you get to pick what you take home. Tell us more about that. How did you come up with that?

Wendy: Well, you know, it’s so true. Because, you know, we our thoughts are dictated by the world around us. And it’s so easy, you know, to be consumed by the thoughts that we have in our mind every single day, because we become what we think about most, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that sometimes a simple email can really trigger you to have a bad day or something that somebody said to you, you internalize it. And through my mindset work, I’ve learned very quickly that we become what we think about most, and then our mind is connected to the world around us. So our conscious mind is connected to our five senses. And our subconscious mind has no ability to reject thoughts, it just accepts thoughts. So whether they’re negative or positive, our subconscious mind takes in all that energy, and then that energy impacts our body, our body impacts our behavior, and our behavior impacts our results. 

So sometimes you can actually track your results back to, you know, various things that you were thinking, if you look at it conversely, if you having, you know, a positive day, it’s because things are going well, you got a great email, it was a wonderful conversation. You know, you can really have the ability to influence your outcome by the thoughts that you actually choose to invest in. Your subconscious mind, again, has no ability to reject thoughts. So you have to select the thoughts that you want to become invested in, like the veggie markets, you know, you choose which ones you want the rotten vegetables or the good fruit.

Nancy: Right. I’ve always found that some people just seem to be born optimists, while others are born pessimists. I mean, is it? Is it possible to be too optimistic? I mean, and can pessimists learn to become optimists? 

Wendy: Yeah, that’s a good point. I am. You know, I don’t think you can be optimistic all the time. I think you have to be, you know, realistic, but I think that you should also be able to, you know, turn pessimistic thoughts into optimism as well. Because the reality is the world is just how we perceive things, everything can be turned back to how you actually see a situation. So for example, you know, like this pandemic, it’s been a year, it’s draining, it’s scary. There’s so many pessimistic things and scary things about it. 

But at the same time, if you look at it through a different lens, that’s using your higher mental faculties, which we call perception, you can think about all the good things that have come out of it, that, you know, it’s really brought out the human elements in people, it’s allowed us to connect with people all over the world through virtual technology, there’s, you know, good things about it, people have had to innovate and, and pivot. So again, there’s a negative and we’re stuck in this pandemic, but at the same time, you can look for the optimism there. I don’t know if I answered your question. Or if I went on to much of a tangent, nancy. Sorry.

Nancy: Do you have any tips? So you know, in a typical day, we all like to think it’s all good, always gonna go our way. And the reality is, we’re going to be thrown some punches from time to time were some hurdles. So if you go into your day, knowing, okay, I’m going to be positive. What are some tricks, so that if you do get a wedge in your day, you can quickly get out of it? Do you have any recommendations?

Wendy: Yeah, absolutely. So I think the biggest thing is to realize you can actually just stop what you’re doing. Move aside, grab a cup of coffee, have a cup of tea, and just pause for a moment when you want to close your eyes and realize that you can stop what you’re doing for a minute. The next thing is to write out what you’re grateful for. We hear a lot of talk about gratitude these days. But the importance of gratitude is so big, especially in the pandemic, because when you start to write out the small things that you’re grateful for, whether they’re, you know, simple things that you take for granted every day, like a hot cup of coffee, or mindful moments, just writing those things out it immediately lifts your vibration, and you start to feel like a lot more at ease. That’s one of the tips. 

And the other tip I would suggest is you having a big goal. So many people don’t actually have you know, goals. And when you waking up every day, you need to be inspired by something. And when things don’t go right, they’re not always going to go right, if you can just stop and take a minute, close your eyes. Think about your goal and how good it would feel to actually achieve that goal. You’ll notice that your energy and your vibration, your body just lifts and you feel overall like way better about the situation, I think that it’s just about being cognizant to, you know, stop and pull your weight yourself away from that potential negative situation. And to also know that things don’t go away a lot of the times and we have to rely on our mindset to sort of push us into how we really want to feel that day.

Nancy: Yeah. So another quote you have on your website that caught my attention. Is people come here with dreams so big, they don’t always know how to achieve them. So that made me think, is it better to have smaller dreams, say one dream at a time? Or can you really have that huge dream? And how do you achieve it then?

Wendy: So I mean, I think it’s important to have multiple goals. But to have a big dream is you know, using your imagination to think about what you really, really want to do. You know, we use our, our imagination as kids so often to dream about, like the professions that we want. But as adults, we very rarely tap into our imagination. And this is what I’m talking about is is dreaming and dreaming is setting up big goals like what do you want to do in the next five years? What do you want to do in the next 10 years, you don’t have to really have to know how to get there. 

But you just really have to want something so badly. And the energy of wanting something so badly can drive your momentum forward so that you do small things every single day to help you get to where you want to go. And that’s what I’m talking about with big dreams, big goals. Because if we don’t have direction, we don’t have goals. We just become a hamster on the wheel. You know, we become a play thing to what other people want us to do. And before you know it, a couple of years have gone by and you’re like oh my gosh, what was I doing two years ago, I don’t even remember I’ve just been this hamster on a wheel. And suddenly, you know, you’re at the 10 year point where you don’t even you haven’t set a goal but without making that conscious decision. It’s very easy just to get caught up in that wheel.

Nancy: Yeah, you are definitely the yes, you can gal. I love it.

Wendy: I’m glad that my infectious enthusiasm is able to shine through on this podcast because I, I believe there’s just an opportunity in so many different situations. And, you know, again, with the pandemic is hard as it’s been, there have been many opportunities. And it’s about how you pivot and how you innovate and what you do with fear, right? Fear drives us so often.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, when we spoke before the podcast about how some just froze deer in headlights and others just forged forward. And here we are, a year later. And I really, really believe that those that continue to focus on the positive and do the activities that were necessary, have come out of it stronger, right? Whenever we’re faced with adversity, we usually come out the other side stronger. So I think I’m sticking with the yes, you can gal, for sure. You know, we’re we’re at the end of our program. And you know, I just want you to share one takeaway that you’d like to leave the listeners with?

Wendy: Yeah, sure. I think, you know, my biggest takeaway is that we should really be conscious of the impact of thoughts have on our results, and to choose our thoughts wisely. Because if we don’t make a conscious decision to choose our thoughts, before we know it, they’ve impacted our productivity. We’ve invested at a subconscious level with thoughts that don’t feel good, and it’s very easy to be stuck in a negative vibration. So that’s the takeaway, I would say, you know, we become what we think about most. And another takeaway I want to add is the importance of goals, setting, you know, short term goals, long term goals, so that you’re driving your own bus. Otherwise, you’re giving control to the outside world to drive your overall happiness and circumstance.

Nancy: Yeah, a most important how can my audience find you?

Wendy: Sure, Nancy. So, I have a website. It’s I’m on LinkedIn. And I’m also on Instagram. So follow me at Wendy Thomas Coaching.

Nancy: Yeah, well, I you know, for all of my listeners, when you do need a dose, or an uplift, I really recommend that you reach out to Wendy. I want to thank Wendy you especially for being on the show and everyone for listening and have a fantastic sales day and remember, positive wins every time.

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

Amy Franko | Become a Modern Seller

Amy Franko is our guest on this week’s episode. Amy is a sales strategist, speaker, and bestselling author of the #1 New Release, The Modern Seller. She was also named LinkedIn’s 2019 Top Sales Voice. Amy helps B2B sellers with her dynamic style, practical experience, and blend of current research and fresh insights. It has been her personal mission and goal to bring her learning and development background to help organizations and individual sellers fill the skills gap in the market and we are so excited to be speaking with her!

Amy has created a strategic selling framework and specific curriculum to help identify and implement a healthy sales growth culture within organizations. Often overlooked, her unique ideas help modern sellers develop the skills behind the skills of selling. She shares some of these insights with us, including:

  • Higher-level sales skills
  • Uncovering pertinent client issues and trends
  • How to avoid sales culture pitfalls
  • And more

Her company, Amy Franko Associates, works with numerous businesses and thought leaders from around the world to make the most of their sales in a changing economic landscape. She is changing the way organizations do sales. Listen in and have a fantastic sales day!

Mentioned in this episode:


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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone. It’s Nancy Calabrese, and it’s time for Conversational Selling the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today, and it always starts with the human conversation. Joining us today is Amy Franko of Amy Franko Associates. Amy is a sales strategist, speaker and author specializing in b2b sales, working with professional services and technology organizations to accelerate their results. Amy is named as LinkedIn 2019 Top Sales Voice. Her book, The Modern Seller is an Amazon bestseller and number one new release. It was named a top sales book by Top Sales World. Known for her dynamic style and practical experience, Amy has worked with some of the world’s most recognizable brands, and is one of a few female sales and leadership, keynote speakers who blend current research, fresh insights and real world examples. Well, we are so lucky to speak with you today. Amy, welcome to the show.

Amy Franko: Nancy, thank you so much. It is great to be here. I am so excited for our conversation today. 

Nancy: Yeah, and you know, just jumping right into it. You know, I have to begin with what first caught my attention in doing some research and following you is the book, The Modern Seller. I’m curious what prompted you to write it? And who is it written for? 

Amy: Well, I will start with the who is it written for? That’s probably the shorter answer. The longer answer is what prompted me to write it. In terms of who I who I wrote it for. If you are someone who is a sales professional, if you are someone who is leading a sales team, or maybe you’re in a in a support role, you are a sales enablement leader or a sales enablement practitioner. I had all of you in mind, while I was writing that book. I envisioned you and saw you as my audience when I was writing that book. So it is really for, all three of those groups. In terms of what prompted me to write the book, it was part, you know, personal mission and personal goal. And part that seeing to be a gap in the market that I could potentially fill to help people build their skills. 

Writing a book is something I have always wanted to do, I kind of joke that it’s a 20 year goal and a 20 year project. But something that was always on my on my list that I wanted to do. And in terms of the catalysts for writing the book, I have a learning and development background. And so I really take that into my conversations with my clients. And I was starting to see that there were some I call them skills behind the skills that organizations individuals could be building in themselves to make their everyday selling activities, more efficient, more effective. So we build agility, entrepreneurial thinking, a holistic approach, being an ambassador and taking a social approach with selling, we can be better at every everyday selling activities. 

Nancy: Yeah, you talked about the gaps? Is that what you were referring to the skills behind the skills? 

Amy: Those were the gaps. Yes. So when you take a look at the building these skills in the organization, most most folks are very focused on the everyday skills of prospecting, presenting, negotiating, closing, and for the record, those skills and activities don’t go away. But I was seeing the need to build some of these higher level skills, capabilities to make people better. 

Nancy: Okay. You know, I I’ve also read that you believe selling environments are more competitive than ever before. 

Amy: Yes, absolutely. So, I always have a client start by looking inside their own organization. So all of those things that you just mentioned, are absolutely happening broadly across industries. Pricing pressures, commoditization pressures, and many times we commoditize ourselves without even knowing it. We’re not not cognizant of it, but all of your pressures and issues are happening very widely. What I encourage my clients to do is really take a look inside your own organization, take a look inside your client base today and where you want to take it, to uncover the trends in the issues that are pertinent to your organization into your clients. The more you know about what’s happening in your clients businesses, the better you can be at advising them. 

And the better you can stave off that commoditization trap that so many of us fall into. And then that ultimately ties to loyalty. Satisfaction is a satisfaction used to be the bar that we all strive for. Right, you really need to be striving towards loyalty. And that won’t be the challenge these days, our customers, even our best customers have more choice than ever before. And there is some research out there that shows that if you have if you have 100 customers, one of those customers could be looking at another provider over the next two to three years, because they’re satisfied, but they may not be as loyal to you as you think that they are. So it’s both a challenge and an opportunity for organizations to take advantage of to build more loyalty. 

Nancy: Yeah, so what do you think is prompting the environment to change so much?

Amy: Oh, well, I think you have a mix of things. You obviously have the current world events. Right, you know, you have you have, you know, the pandemic, of course, has accelerated things that were already happening. So if you, you know, I follow a number of thought leaders, not only in the sales industry, but just very broadly to get different perspectives. And the common theme is that the current world events, you know, so the pandemic, being one of them, didn’t necessarily create the trends that we’re seeing, they accelerated the trend that was already happening. The trend of organizations being more digital than ever before, the trend of organizations who maybe have some struggling business units or struggling divisions that really hit got hit even harder. The trend of needing to build relationships through technology, those where always here, but the pandemic just made them just even hotter. And our customers having to work through them. 

Nancy: I also know that you’re a big believer in developing sales growth cultures, and you talk about indicators of these cultures. What are some of them? And how do you know if a company is poised to, you know, in that direction? 

Amy: Yeah, so all the work that I that I do, and that this is something that I’ve, as I reflected on all the different types of work that I do, it could be sales strategy work, it can be skill development work, it could be evaluation work of the organization, it really in the end, all points to one thing, which is, do you as an organization, have a healthy productive sales growth culture? Do you have it defined? Do you know what that means for your organization? And the way that I define it is the strategy, the people and the tools that come together and help you create a growth culture that is sustainable, that it’s meaningful, and that’s profitable over time. There’s nothing worse than closing a million dollar deal. And it costs you a million and a half to close it. There’s one or two things that are worse than that. But but you know what I mean? 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Amy: But as a as a leader, do you have that defined in your organization? And do you have the right things in place to make it happen? 

Nancy: How long does it take to really go from a culture say, without that outlook, right. And those things in place to achieve that is? Have you ever done any research on that? 

Amy: Yeah, I’m going to give you my wishy washy answer of it depends. And here and here’s, here’s what it depends on. It, some of it depends on the size of your organization. This is where as sometimes mid market and small organizations have an advantage because they have oftentimes have the capability of being more nimble and being more agile to make these types of decisions. I’d also highly, highly depend on your leadership. You have to have the leaders in place who believe in building a healthy sales growth culture, because the decisions that they make across all those buckets of strategy, people and tools are what contributed to it. So I would say those are probably two two major levers that contribute to how long it will take you to say, on the point A today, which says, I really need to build sales growth culture to get to a point B where like, we’re in a place where we feel feel good, and we’re seeing results from it. 

Nancy: Sure. Yeah. I guess like anything else, right? You’ve got to think it through and then commit to making it happen. 

Amy: Yeah, intentionality, commitment. A consistent action. And accountability is probably the one place where you see things fall fall down. You can you can create all you can create the most beautiful sales growth culture strategy in the world, but if you don’t have the accountability and the structures in place to support it, you’re going to look back in a year and say, wow, we didn’t really accomplish a whole lot. So there’s those accountabilities and consistent action items are what really drive it in the end? 

Nancy: Yeah. share with the audience what your unique idea is, that sets you apart? 

Amy: I was thinking about this question. And, you know, what, what is what is it that makes makes me unique? And I would say it’s probably two things. First is the blend of my background, I have a I have a varied background, that gives me experience in b2b selling, entrepreneurial selling, learning and development, leadership, I bring all of those experiences to my clients. And it gives me a very broad perspective. I am someone who loves to go go broad, read different things, experience different things, and bring that perspective back. I would say the other piece to it that makes me unique is the efforts and intention that I’ve put into building my network. 

My network is so so valuable to me personally and professionally. I was just on a call this morning before we before we did this, this conversation here. And I was brainstorming with a global sales leader. And we were just talking about a number a number of different things, both strategic and tactical. And there were a couple of things I said, you know, this may not be quite in my wheelhouse, but I could think of at least two to three people in those different categories that I could make introductions for that my friends is so valuable if you call it cultivates your network. And you could make introductions for the for for others. 

Nancy: Yeah. And you know, you said that you like to keep your experiences broad. So I know you have a story you want to talk to us about. And I think it starts in Kenya. 

Amy: It sure does. And so this was actually a year ago before the pandemic, and I’ll try to give you the Cliff Notes version of the story. My husband and I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Kenya. And we did a two and a half week Safari. And we did this in February of 2020. And we we’ve kind of threaded the needle Nancy, we got home end of February. And things have been pretty well shut down here now on that in mid March. But so so this story actually happened in one of the regional airports. So you you go to one of the regional airports and you get all these little puddle jumpers that take you to different parts of the country to experience it. 

And there was this young man there, Calvin, who was our our concierge, I think it’s probably the best way to describe him. He was just fantastic. Help us with our bags, helped us get through our gates, all of that. And he’s looking at the manifest, and he is reading it and there’s like eight people on this manifest. We’re not talking a lot of people here. And he looks at me and he said, are you Amy Franko the author? And I’m looking at him and I’m looking at my husband and my friends. I’m like, alright, which one of you put him up to this? We did not believe him. He’s like, you are the author, right? And I said, well, yeah. But um, you know, how do you know who I am? He’s like, I love sales. I love everything about sales. I came across your book. He’s like, how about get your book? And I said, well, probably the best way to order it is on Amazon. 

And Nancy, I’m totally not buying his story. I’m like, my friend puts you up to this. I loved him. He was so sincere. And so that’s kind of the end of that conversation. Fast forward. Three days later, I come back to the same airport. There’s my buddy Calvin. There he is and he says how do I get your book? And then he starts saying other names of other sales people. Like other sales consultants and authors that my friends wouldn’t necessarily know. And okay, all right. I think maybe Calvin, you’re you’re you’re telling me the truth here and he’s like I’ve been trying to tell you. He was great. So here we are. And I said, all right, let me take a photo of your badge, let’s take a photo together, and I will send you a copy of the book. 

So a few couple weeks later, I put a copy of the book in the mail, signed it. And then a few weeks after that, he sent me the nicest letter and sent me some photos of himself with the book all the way back in, in Nairobi. So it just goes to show you never know who you’re going to meet. And you just never know who’s that whose lives you may intersect with, and have the opportunity to maybe impact them. And it was all because of the book. 

Nancy: Wow. And little does Calvin know that you’re that you will have repeated this story X amount of times in X amount of years. He’s famous. He may not know it, but he’s famous now. Right? 

Amy: Exactly. Yeah, for sure. I had I had to I had to write that blog post about it and share that experience. So definitely once in a lifetime experience, both the trip and the meeting. 

Nancy: Yeah. Wow. So what would you like me to spotlight?

Amy: Well, why don’t we talk a little bit about my strategic selling program. And, you know, this is really for organizations and or individuals, individual sellers, who really want to focus on up leveling their sales skills. Selling strategically is really what’s going to help you have a competitive advantage to really be a modern seller. And it’s the combination of being able to think very forward in into the next couple of years, about your customers about where you want your territory to be. But also very specific skills to to help you get there. 

And I created a strategic selling framework and a very specific curriculum, to help sellers build these skills that will ultimately help them a better qualified opportunities. Will help them better move those opportunities through their pipelines and really stand out and help to close more business. So that’s a program that’s very near and dear to my heart. I will bring it to organizations and facilitate it. Or I also have a fully digital platform, which which I lovingly lovingly refer to as my pandemic project. Taking that that’s completely virtually.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, I think having a program or a guide, or you know, here at One of a Kind Sales, it we we always start with a script, right, and we own it, and we have it day in and day out, and making sure that our conversations are as meaningful as possible. I think it’s so important to have programs or playbooks, you know, and even those that have been in sales, for many, many years, you always walk away with a nugget or two, right, and when it’s in front of you, and you study it.

Amy: I find that organizations and individuals who have a nice balance of structure and flexibility, the structure in terms of process or frameworks that you use. Structure in terms of your your consistency, but also being able to flex for your, you know, a specific skill for a customer situation, I find those organizations and individuals to be the most successful. 

Nancy: I completely agree with you. You know, we’re we’re running out of time, and we could stay on forever. But what is one takeaway you’d like to leave the listeners with? 

Amy: I would say the number one thing that you can do, no matter where you happen to be in your career, at this moment in time, but the number one thing that you can do is protect and nurture your mindset. And then intentionally find ways to step out of what’s comfortable. Your mindset and your approach, the way you think about things the way you think about yourself. So, so important. And your outlook, the way you step into each day, do you look at each day as full of opportunity? Do you look at the challenges that you face as just opportunities to get better? Your mindset will take you so far, professionally and personally. 

Nancy: Yeah, ditto ditto ditto. So, thank you all for listening in today. You were absolutely wonderful, Amy and I’m sure you have many more stories you you’re going to share if you come back on the program. So I say to everyone have a fantastic and successful sales day. Let’s all go out and purchase Modern Selling. And you know what I forgot, though, Amy, how does my audience get in touch with you? 

Amy: Sure so so a couple of ways. If you’re interested in purchasing The Modern Seller, you can jump out to Amazon and you can buy it in a physical copy, audible and Kindle. So all the versions are available to you. And then secondarily, connect with me on LinkedIn. And if you connect with connect with me, please personalize your note and let me know that you met me on Nancy’s show. 

Nancy: And I’m sure many people will do again thank you everyone for listening in. And Amy, you’re terrific. I look forward to continuing to follow you and network with you. Have a great day everyone.

Voiceover: The Conversational Selling Podcast is sponsored by One of a Kind Sales. If you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough leads or your sales team complains that they just don’t have enough time to prospect, we can help. To work with Nancy and her team one on one to help you manage your sales team, install her proven outbound sales process and create more bottom line results, email her now at To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at