Michael Markulec | The Best Steps to Maximize Your Cyber-Security

Cyber-crime has been on the rise for the past 20 years.

Ransomware costs businesses billions of dollars a year.

SMBs are especially vulnerable to attacks.

How safe is your business?

Michael Markulec is a Chief Information Security Officer with decades of experience working with the federal government, Department of Defense, and large financial firms. He is also the co-Founder of Harbor Technology Group, a comprehensive service provider of cyber-protections for SMBs.

Michael joins us to discuss the threats, the vulnerabilities, and the fixes you can put in place right now. He is a wealth of knowledge on the topic and shares with us:

  • How to avoid the costly mistakes most companies make with their cyber-security 
  • How to put together your own plan to stop ransomware attacks 
  • Why proper employee training is your best line of defense 
  • And more

Cyber-risk is a business problem FIRST and a technology problem second. Get proactive with your security plan and never again leave your business vulnerable to cyber-attacks.


Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Celling 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 the world today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Joining us today is Michael Markulec, co founder of Harbor Technology Group. Harbor provides companies with a comprehensive set of consultative services that allow SMBs to make informed, fact based decisions and manage cyber risk. 

They offer a range of services from cyber risk advisory to virtual ciso. Harbor Technology believes cybersecurity is a business problem first and a technology problem next. In addition, Michael is also a CEO pure advisory board chair at Vistage worldwide. So folks, cybersecurity is such a hot topic nowadays. And yet, so many firms don’t have a current strategy to manage this. We’re all looking forward to hearing why this is so important, Michael. So welcome to the show. Let’s get going. 

Michael Markulec: Great. Thanks for having me. 

Nancy: Always a pleasure. So I just want to jump in and like talk in generalities. And then we can get down to some specifics. But what are some of the common threats all businesses businesses face today?

Michael: Well, cybercrime has been on the rise for the past 20 years, and it’s moved from you know, defacing websites. And, you know, early hackers who, who did it for the fun of it, to now a business? Things like ransomware costs businesses worldwide, billions of dollars a year, according to the FBI. So what we’ve seen is this trend that’s moved from what was just a nuisance to now a real business threat, especially small and medium sized businesses.

Nancy: Wow. So I mean, that is really scary. Scary, and, you know, knock on wood. It hasn’t happened to me, I’m sure. Many of you out there it hasn’t happened to. But you know, what, how do we go about protecting our data? You know, I know you published five tactics for doing this, maybe you can share it with us?

Michael: Sure. You know, from from a business perspective, it always starts with understanding what your critical assets are, you know, for some of us, that is the data, our client data, you think about a law firm and the data that they have on their clients. You know, for other businesses, it might be manufacturing equipment, and protecting that manufacturing equipment. But again, it starts with, you know, identifying what the critical assets are. And then I really believe you need to take a couple of basic simple steps. 

And this is true, whether you’re, you know, whether you’re looking at your home computer, your small business network computer, or even if you’re a large enterprise, and that that starts with protecting the endpoints, which is really the, you know, the computers, the servers, that make up your network with things like antivirus anti malware. And for home users, small, small business users know there’s free software out there that comes with most of your PCs, that just needs to be turned on. Second.

Nancy: Can I ask you something? Why isn’t it automatically turned on? Why do you have to turn it on?

Michael: Because it’s, yeah, I mean, again, because a lot of software and I laugh, I chuckle because, you know, the IT, Information Technology, information security world has made this hard and it really doesn’t need to be hard. You know, endpoint protection is something that you definitely need. If you’re running, you know, Windows or the new version of Windows, Windows 10. It comes with something called Windows Defender, but yet it doesn’t come fully turned on when you get the machine. That’s required by your IT staff or your managed service provider, or in your home environment for you to do that yourself. And again, I chuckled, because having been in the industry for 25 years now, you know, we still haven’t gotten to the part where we make security easy, where we build it in. It’s something that we seem to layer on top, not build into the solution. 

Nancy: Wow. 

Michael: And then I was I was going to continue the other two big things that I really recommend for folks or backup your data. I don’t care whether it’s you know, my wife’s photographs of the dog, or my business data, or even as I advise, you know, larger clients, look at the data that’s important to you and back it up. Because when you get hit with ransomware, or you have some kind of cyber breach, your best defense, your best solution is to wipe the systems and start clean. And the only way you can do that is if you have a current backup of your data, right? 

The data, the data is important to us, as I said, the critical assets. You know, back it up having someplace off site where you can recover very quickly. And then finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this, the best thing you can do for cybersecurity, according to Harvard Business Review, that says the best return on an investment is training your employees. 90 plus percent of all cyber incidents, start with the employee doing something wrong. Clicking on an attachment they shouldn’t. Entering the correct entering their credentials into a fraudulent website. It’s an employee problem at its heart through the weakest chain in the link. And yet we don’t train them. Which to me is just mind boggling, you know, at a level.

Nancy: Wow. How, I want to go back to backup. How often should files be backed up?

Michael: Depends on how important they are to you. So you know, if you’re a small and medium sized business, and we’re talking about things like your accounting files, or your inventory, you know, that should happen a couple times a day. You know, my wife’s pictures of the dog should probably happen once a week, right? So you want to make sure that you’re doing it in a timely manner. And I tell you, you really need three copies of the data. You know, the copy of the data that you’re working on, right, the spreadsheet that you might be working on on a daily basis. 

You should have a local, you should have a local backup of that. So something that’s, you know, on site that you’re backing up, you know, daily at a minimum, and then you should have an off site backup. And, you know, God forbid, we have you know, Superstorm Sandy again, or you have a, you know, a fire at your business or something like that. You want to still be able to bring that data back, even if it’s a week old. Right? It’s better losing everything. 

Nancy: Yeah. I can only imagine what that might must be like, if you lost everything, and you spent so many years in building something. Alright, so tell us more about your company and why Harbor is unique. What what makes your organization great?

Michael: So what what makes us unique, my business partner and myself, you know, have decades of experience in cybersecurity, we worked with the US federal government, the Department of Defense, some of the largest agencies in the government. We work with large financial service firms. You know, for the early part of our career, what we’ve done is taken that knowledge, the methodologies, the consulting methodologies, the processes that large organizations use, and we’ve brought them down and right sized them for small and medium sized business. 

I tell people all the time that you know Bank of America, and Hopewell Valley Community Bank, need to comply with the same federal regulations around cybersecurity. The difference is, Bank of America has almost unlimited resources to deal with the problem. Small and medium businesses don’t, right, they just don’t have the expertise. They can’t hire and train people quick enough to keep up with the changing landscape. So what we do is we help small and medium businesses fill that gap. We do do that provide by providing a set of services, that that at its heart starts with that virtual chief information security officer. 

Coming in helping them understand the regulations, helping them understand how to implement a security program, writing policies, establishing training programs, really building out a cybersecurity program. Very similar to you know, a part time CFO, or a part time COO that organizations would bring in, we’re doing the same thing on the cyber side. But doing it from a place of, you know, having dealt with large organizations, and therefore, understanding business and understanding that the trials and tribulations of running a small business.

Nancy: Right, you know, what do we do if we have an attack? What’s the first step to take?

Michael: Well, step one is to prepare, right so we you know, if we’re not let’s let’s assume that we maybe haven’t been as prepared as we should. You know, if you do have a an attack, you should have have, you know some Incident Response Plan that talks about, you know, you know, taking the device off of the network, doing some analysis to determine, you know, what has been compromised, what might be at risk, what data might be lost. If we’re talking about something like ransomware, you’ll know when you get hit with ransomware, because you’re going to get a note on your screen telling you oh, that you owe the cybercriminal money.

And they’ll unlock your data if you send them a Bitcoin or two. And if anybody’s followed cryptocurrency, exciting subject, but you know, Bitcoin can an individual Bitcoin can be well over $1,000. Paying two bitcoins to have your laptop unlocked, you know, $2,000, just to have somebody unlock your laptop, and then ultimately, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to unlock it, or that they won’t target you again.

Nancy: Wow. And so we really have no control over that, except for protecting ourselves.

Michael: I think protection, again, backup, I recommend people all the time, don’t pay a ransom, just replace your files from backup. Yeah, train your employees not to click on things that cause ransomware. So you can take some very proactive steps. But again, most businesses don’t. Most businesses wait until something bad happens. Where they’re reactive, not proactive.

Nancy: Interesting, you know, and and having worked with you and in in your space before, there’s all there’s often a lack of understanding in the business community about something that I quoted you on that you believe that cybersecurity is a business problem first, and then a technology problem. Our experience here is that many see it as a technology problem and not a business problem, wouldn’t you agree in in general, and why is that bad?

Michael: You know, so we look at IT or information security is some kind of black art something that you know, we have an IT guy to go handle. And for most most managers, most executives, they have no idea what their IT guy does on a daily basis.

Nancy: Yeah.

Michael: But yet, when we think about things like operations, or finance, you know, we manage those and we manage them properly. Right? If you’re, if you’re a CEO of a small and medium sized business, I guarantee you, you understand, and you’re monitoring things like accounts receivable, accounts payable, you have annual audits or reviews, so that you understand you know where your finances are. But we don’t bring that same kind of discipline to the IT space. And for life in the I don’t know why. Right? It’s, it’s not that you need to understand every technical bit and bite, you need to understand how to manage, right, and how to make sure that you’ve got a plan moving forward. 

Right. So just like anything else, build a roadmap, follow a plan, make sure that you know what you’re you know, information technology information security team is doing. And this is not something you can pass off to an IT guy or a managed service provider. Right? Managed service providers only going to do what you tell them to do. They’re only going to do what you manage them to do. Same what’s your IT staff, you’ve got to make sure that they know what they’re doing. You got to provide them training, you got to provide them guidance. We wouldn’t let somebody go out and run a bulldozer without proper training. But yet, you know, we don’t train our employees on information technology. We don’t train our IT staff on how to remediate these kind of problems.

Nancy: Yeah, wow. Is this something you’d like me to spotlight?

Michael: You know, just the fact that, you know, small and medium businesses are kind of really at risk. And when I talk about the risk, you know, people are like, wow, someone’s going to deface my website, or, you know what, someone’s gonna lock up a computer and it’s going to cost me you know, $500. Well, it becomes a lot more than that. Right? The risk today, if you’re a small law firm, and have to go tell all of your clients that you’ve lost their data that can be catastrophic for your business. If you’re a chain of retail locations and you lost you lost control of your inventory. 

Some of that inventory is probably on consignment. Right. Now, you’ve got a tremendous problem with trying to go back and, you know, inventory, your retail shops, to make sure that you know exactly where things are costing you hundreds of 1000s of dollars. We’ve seen it recently right here in New Jersey in Mercer County. You know, Mercer County fell victim to a scheme, right they know fraudulent wire transfer, they sent over $660,000 of taxpayer money. That’s now non recoverable. 

Nancy: Wow. 

Michael: So it’s not a game anymore. This is not something you can stick your head in the sand to ignore. And you know, sorry for getting up on a spoke a little bit on a soapbox. But, you know, I think too many businesses don’t understand the risk, and then wake up one day out of business.

Nancy: Well, I hear it. It doesn’t make sense, why more aren’t implementing a strategy. You know, tell us something that you believe is true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Michael: Well, it’s, it’s funny, because when you I know, we did a little bit of prep for the show, you asked me that, you know, I don’t know if you recall my response. But I wrote down something that I believe that nobody else believes is, you know, the Eagles are gonna win a Super Bowl in next three years.

Nancy: Hey, but that is optimism isn’t it. 

Michael: That is optimism on my part. But again, I’ll come back to the employee training. And really, the fact that you know, you can greatly reduce your risk, your risk to cyber fraud, your risk to exposure, by training your employees. You know, they become the weakest link. They reuse passwords, they click on things they shouldn’t click on, they open attachments they shouldn’t. And at the heart of it, if you can improve your employees’ cyber awareness, cyber hygiene is another term that’s been used, you know, you’ve taken a big step forward, in terms of preventing risk to your business. And for most organizations, that’s not that hard. Right? It’s not expensive. It’s not difficult. You just need to do it.

Nancy: I want to tap on that, though. What kind of a program do you recommend? I mean, how long and you know how long it’s not, you know, it works.

Michael: Yep, a couple a couple things you can do on on both sides. The program we typically implement for our clients has three components. It has a simulated phishing, which is sending out phishing tests to see who clicks on bad things. Who answered enters their credentials into a fake website. Right. So that’s really the testing component. And it allows us to track over time, how well the organization is doing. Second, I believe training needs to be interactive, it needs to be short, and it needs to be monthly, at least. Right? The days, the days of once a year, going in for a PowerPoint session, with doughnuts just doesn’t work. That’s not training, right? 

Training is repeated, often. It’s frequent. It’s interactive. And we use a set of short videos on a monthly basis for most of our clients to cover the training aspect. And then I sit, I sit with the leadership team, the management inside your inside our client organizations, at least once, preferably twice a year, to talk about cybersecurity, to talk about the threats to the business. To make sure that your accounting team and your your remote sales team and your operations team all understand what cyber security is, how important is it to the business. So that executive component that executive education is just as important, as you know, training the day to day employees.

Nancy: But you know, it makes total sense. And I’m looking at the clock, I cannot believe we’re almost out of time. This is a conversation that we could have gone on for quite some time. But before you go, how can my audience find you because I think you’ve given us some really good things to think about and be proactive moving forward. So how can they reach you?

Michael: So a couple ways the audience can reach me, obviously, it’s a Harbor Technology. It’s Harbortg, Tango golf.com. They can find me on LinkedIn. And we’re publishing almost on a weekly basis information to LinkedIn. We’re blogging on on a weekly basis to make sure that we’re getting out the best information around cybersecurity issues. You can certainly get me on Twitter, you can get me on LinkedIn, or you can go to our website and connect to me there.

Nancy: Awesome. You gotta help us here. How do you spell your name, last name.

Michael: Last name. It’s Michael Markulec m a r k u l e c. Harbor Technology Group, the web, the URL is harbortg Tango golf.com.

Nancy: Awesome. So once again, thank you all for listening in and a big special thank you Michael for joining the program. You know, everyone remember to reach out to Michael, when you’re looking to get things right. I think what he said makes so much sense. It would be remiss if we didn’t take next steps. Make it a great day everyone and Michael, are you going to come back on the show and keep us updated on what we should do and when and how?

Michael: I will keep you updated. And we didn’t. We didn’t even get into the sales world today. We just got into the cyber security world but right now we’re doing some innovative stuff to get more information, more content out to the small and medium business community. And yeah, I’d love to have that conversation over over coffee sometime.

Nancy: Hey over coffee or another podcast and finally, I’m all about sales. You know what I’m saying? Make it a great day everyone. Thanks again for listening in.

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

Ed Porter | Insider Tips from a Fractional CRO

Ed Porter is passionate about helping businesses like yours align their revenue systems – and avoid the mistakes of over-hiring in key positions.

The Chief Revenue Officer at Blue Chip CRO joins the show to share so much good stuff – from marketing and sales to customer success and right-sizing your leadership team. This conversation has something for everyone, including: 

  • The huge mistake sales reps make (and how to stop them from pushing prospects away) 
  • How to prevent silos by creating a unified customer experience 
  • The secret to getting on the same side of the table as your prospects 
  • How to deliver value for buyers at every touchpoint 
  • And much, much more

Aligning your revenue system is the single most important task to get your company on the fast track for growth and profitability, and Ed has the answers to all your questions. Don’t miss this episode. It’s your chance to get all the benefits of having your own expert CRO in under 30 minutes!


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 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. Joining us today is Ed Porter CRO of Blue Chip. Blue Chip is a fractional chief revenue officer service that enables businesses to build revenue strategies and accelerate their growth. Their core focus is aligning revenue organization, marketing, sales, enablement, and customer success teams through design, process and technology to ensure they work together in harmony. 

And once aligned, a revenue organization can deliver value and consistency for buyers, at every touch point from brand awareness, and prospecting, a prospect nurturing, I should say, to customer onboarding support management and retention. Ed has been the president of the Columbus Chapter of American Association of Inside Sales Professional since 2015. He’s a mentor for girls club, and multiple nonprofit boards, and an investor and advisor for seamless.ai, which One of a Kind Sales happens to love. So welcome to the show. Ed, we are looking forward to hearing your strategies to help companies become well oiled machines.

Ed Porter: Great, yeah, thank you. That’s a that’s a great hype intro. Nancy, love it. Thank you very much. Glad to be here.

Nancy: Oh, my goodness, I’m so happy to have you. So, you know, for starters, why don’t we pick up with what I mentioned earlier? Why is aligning revenue organization so important in business?

Ed: Well, the biggest thing is, it’s much like any other company is, you know, more minds are better than one. And when companies grow at time, silos start to occur. And when silos occur, that is that becomes very detrimental to harmonized growth. And when you look at the revenue organization, I think you have this advent of this new title of CRO, what does that mean? And what do they need to possess in order to be effective in that position? And it really starts looking at the top of the organization to say, are we ultimately building a product or service that’s solving a customer problem? And then how does that get transferred throughout all departments that will, in one way or another interface with with the buyer. 

So when you look at alignment, and as much of a maybe corporate word as it sounds, is, there are so many things that are tied into alignment that when I look at it, from the buyer perspective, we need to really look at when our customer experience, customer success team is onboarding a customer servicing a customer. What are those interactions look like? Are we are we solving problems that we said in sales that we were going to solve? And how effective are those problems being solved? And how do we take that back into marketing to say, what buyer personas do we need to target? What problems can we talk about? And how do we market solutions? And then how do we hand that torch over to sales during that nurturing process, and it all needs to be centered. 

And all three of those core customer facing departments need to be on the same wavelength in order to sing the same tune, deliver the same message. And then when you go to implement a customer, if they got attracted to us by marketing, and sales was working through this is the product or the service, this is how we solve these problems. The customer success needs to take that handoff and then go go implement to figure out how to solve that problem. So there’s a lot of these, these activities going on that if they’re not centered on the buyer, then it’s going to result in a very disjointed operation. So that’s where I’m very passionate about alignment. And how do you bring in these organizations, whether they’re individual contributors or leaders and make sure that they’re all singing the same tune?

Nancy: Yeah, so you know what I’m hearing you say it’s all communication, internal communication, and consistency in the messaging. Would you agree with that?

Ed: Yes. In fact, my, when I branded this website, the first blog article I wrote was about revenue, revenue alignment, and I talked about all of the problems that exists, that you have siloed departments, you have people not really talking to each other. And then I made somewhat of a joke, but it’s true is this the solve for that is easy, and it’s communication. And you look at how do you have meetings and meetings are like the foundation for how companies survive. So everyone’s attended meetings that are terrible, that are long and drawn out and, and, and boring and off topic. And the more you can minimize those, that’s the answer is communication is building the mechanism for who’s going to be in meeting what their part is, how long are they? 

How effective are they run? And then how do you disseminate that throughout the whole organization. I mean, that really is a solve. And it sounds like an easy problem. You know, in practice, it’s a lot harder to do. But that becomes easy. And I’m very much attached to the Rockefeller habits and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits is a book from Verne Harnish. And the second book is Scaling Up. And a lot of startups I see, subscribe to that mentality, I was fortunate to be a part of a startup that did that, which is where I learned it. And that, you know, the meeting cadences, and the foundation is very important to aligning your whole organization. So that’s what started to really shape me as a leader, and then allowed me to do this on my own.

Nancy: You know, so an enlightened organization would want to be sure all of these components are in place. How does the company start? I mean, how do you get there?

Ed: Well, so if you go back to the initial founders, so the founders have to be, you know, the goal of a founder is to bring on team members that will continue executing on the mission or the vision that they have for the company. So it’s, you know, it’s building the, it’s building the team. So there’s, you know, another analogy from another great book called Good to Great where you got to get the right people on the bus first. And then you got to have the right people in the right seat. And sometimes that means shift. Sometimes that means, you know, the CEO or the founder, who’s the CEO, getting to 5 million isn’t the best person to be the CEO to get them to 20 million, or 50 million and but they you know, they need to be on the bus somewhere, they just need to find a seat. 

So when you build out team members, it’s it’s been pretty clear on who’s going to do what, and a lot of the startups that I’ve worked with in the past, who were very much in the infancy stages is, you know, who I’m a founder, and I’m looking to make my first sales hire. Am I going to hire a good size six figure VP of sales to go roll up their sleeves and go hunt and peck and prospect? Or should I would I be better off hiring a couple, two or three different individual contributors? While I’m the founder, still involved in the sales process? And that’s a big mistake. A lot of people make Jason Lemkin of SaaStr, there talks a lot about hiring your first VP of Sales when what they’re going to do, how do you bring them up? And the challenge you face is the average tenure of a VP of sales is 18 months. And that’s horrible. And that’s just going down. 

That was 20, 22, 23 months, a mere, maybe three, four years ago. And now we’re down to 18 months. And when you look at the turnover, that that type of position has, it should raise a lot of eyebrows that want to start up gets going to say, who do I need? I know that cash is important, where do I invest it? And the same thing is true and in marketing and in customer success, are you gonna invest in a high salaried CMO and expect them to be the ones plugging in the Google Analytics and the pay per click words and trying to mine? Which ones are the better words based on impressions and costs? 

No, you don’t, we don’t want somebody at that level, doing that type of contributor work. And these are the these are unfortunately, the mistakes that get made a lot is over hiring. When you really need people are at the ground level, doing the ground level work and keep the founder engaged. And that’s really as a founder is you want to stay engaged in the sales process and the customer acquisition process as long as possible and get the people get the engine going. And then you bring on these leaders to go hand that baton over to.

Nancy: You just use the word that I love. engine. Sales engine. Companies have engines, right, and they are all fueled internally. You know, so much business is lost when things aren’t aligned. And you know, from my vantage point, I believe it starts with the outreach, the prospecting and marketing. What is a huge mistake sales reps make that in inadvertently pushes prospects away?

Ed: Well, the biggest thing is that I talked about this on a previous podcast is word vomit. And sales reps we gravitate towards, we’re conditioned one way or another to look for buying signals. And sometimes we get way too excited when a customer may or prospect makes a comment. And then we just go on the fence of me, me, me if they say, yeah, I have this problem, and then you go right into, well, here’s how I can help. And here’s how I can solve it. And here’s everything we do, here’s every feature and all the way down the list. And it’s, I think part of it is that excitement. 

Because, you know, sales, being a sales rep isn’t a winning batting average game. I mean, if you if you’re successful 30% of time, you’re doing really well. So that means 70% of the time, that’s failure. So if you gravitate too much to those successes, you’re you’re pouncing on that. And you you wind up derailing the conversation. You know, being a sales rep is a very skilled position where you need to almost be a counselor, you need to ask the right questions that are guiding down the journey. You need to educate without, you know, being the one who’s giving statements. You know, I think we’re in many industries that the PowerPoint presentation is dead, which, thankfully, because nobody wants to be lectured, and how do you keep these conversations moving? 

And how do you keep them related to the buyer, keep them engaged. And then even a product demo, a product demo can be scripted, to an extent, but a product demo should absolutely be focused on on the buyer. And instead of showing you the whole suite of things, I need to show you a little bit and get you engaged and and get an okay, and then let the prospect, pull it out. So kind of go in a different couple different directions. But it all stems from having a plan guiding the prospect with questions, making sure we’re having the patience to guide them down a buying journey, and not so much down a seller’s journey of what I want to sell you and what I want to present and needs to be taken from the buyer. And that’s, that’s a misstep that gets made frequently by by all sorts of people both experienced and inexperienced. So you know, everybody faces it.

Nancy: Yeah, I agree. Agree. So you talk about scripting, I know that you’re a huge fan of scripting. But I want you to, like just share a pointer to how to hook the prospect without chewing their ear off. What what are your secrets?

Ed: Yeah, the best. So this is where, where scripting comes into play. And I’ll define scripting to say not word for word, having a scripting and messaging is basically planning. So when you’re doing any kind of research, that’s, that’s prepping, and you’re basically trying to develop your own pitch or your own messaging. So you’re doing a little bit of research on the buyer on the company, maybe the persona, you’re maybe making some assumptions of, oh, you’re a CFO, maybe you have some challenges on, quote to cash and, you know, try to understand some of those financial metrics of day sale sales outstanding. 

So you kind of go into that, say, you know, many of the CFOs we talk to have are seeing larger, larger day sales outstanding that can be done to a plethora of reasons. Are there, you know, is this an opportunity that you’re looking to invest in solving this problem today? Or is this not as important? So in some cases, you’re making some assumptions, but you got to build out those those pain points, like what pain points are the art, do your does your problem solve? What pain points are your buyers facing? And then how do you relate that to the product, that’s, that’s nothing more than scripting, it’s not word for word, but you’re planning your approach. And that’s all that’s all you’re doing. 

And that mentality goes throughout every stage of the sales process, from a cold outreach to a discovery type of call to a product demo. A product demo should be nothing more than I know a little bit from our previous conversation. I’m going to ask some more questions that are going to guide me down a path where if I can get to a feature great, but I’m more, I’m more interested in making sure I show you that feature, if it helps you do something better different, or gives you some kind of value today. So it’s all planning that process and then preparing each of those different events, to to ultimately take the buyer down the buyers journey, but you need to be the one asking the question to understand what does that journey look like? How is that buying decision going to be made? And be on the same side of the table instead of on the other side of the table.

Nancy: Yeah, and you know what? It makes it more fun. When you plan ahead. You’re less stressed right? You’re really focused on them and having them tell you how to sell them by through the questions that you ask because they’ll let you know least that’s been our experience here. I read somewhere that you believe that a lot of people make the mistake. Startups regularly mislabeled VP of sales and CRO. I love it. Tell me what you mean by that. Nobody agrees with you on that? Or almost nobody?

Ed: No, I’ll be to be honest, I don’t really know what the consensus is. And in terms of my point, but what I look at is sales as an industry over many, many years, have we’ve overcomplicated titles, because there was a point in time where no one wanted to be a sales rep. So then this whole account executive title, I mean, I looked at that title and say, what does that even mean? And right, and then don’t want to diminish and say, you’re just a sales rep. But if you think about it is, it’s a fancy way of dressing up a title of, of sales person, whatever you want to call it. So we start down this advent of looking at job descriptions. And you could be called an account manager, an account executive, an account specialist, a lead development rep, a sales development, rep, a business development rep, all of these titles. 

And there’s a little bit of difference between, you know, front end lead generation handling and owning the sales process, selling to existing customers versus new customers. So I think we’re starting to gain some clarity there. But there’s just so many titles that are just overhyped. What I feel like is trying to dress up an elephant. And now you take that into the executive role. VP of sales, I get somewhat disgusted. If there’s a VP of sales that has three sales reps reporting to them, you’re not a VP, you’re a manager, maybe you’re a director. But if you miss, you’re missing the hierarchy here. And I think that also goes into play of why the VP of Sales turnover is 18 months, and we’re looking at we’re hiring a VP, we’re paying them a pretty significant salary, and what are we really expecting them to do? 

If they’re expected to manage a frontline team, then that expectation needs set with proper goals aligned, and to say, I need you to build this team. And that means skill development, that means coaching. And that’s what I need you to do. But then if you start to then give that VP a quota of their own, and they’re supposed to spend some time selling, that’s a huge distraction, to say, well, now you’re overpaying for a sales rep. And you’re not devote devoting enough time for that person to develop a team underneath them. So these part time VPs, I just, I think are, do a lot more harm to a business than help. And a lot of times, it’s a founder trying to offset a salary because a VP is a pretty expensive. 

So oh, I can justify a $200,000 salary. If I give them a million dollar a year quota. So then it just becomes an execution nightmare, then now you’ve got this whole CRO thing. And I’ve seen CROs that have one or two sales reps that they manage, maybe a marketing person, and it’s why are you bringing in a CRO that’s even a higher title, higher expertise, higher salary, and it’s, it’s still small. I’ll make the claim that a company shouldn’t consider a CRO position until minimum $10 million. I was that CRO, in a company less than 10 million. And even I think I told the person, like, you’re too early for me, I don’t think you need this. And, you know, it happened and I was okay. And you know, they had aspirations to want to sell the company. And we did. So it was it was successful. 

But, you know, when you look at a CRO, what do you want from that position, and it’s not a frontline manager, or else you’re just overpaying. So I do take a pretty opinionated stand on titling properly. And because there’s an alignment to the right person and the right caliber skill set. And, and there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. And yeah, I think there’s there’s some opportunities to right size that better and, and to eliminate the misnomer. A CRO is not a head of sales. There’s a reason there’s a chief sales officer title and it is different from a chief revenue officer or chief revenue officer, my opinion doesn’t own the full buyer lifecycle from marketing, sales to operations and customer success. 

And that’s not a revenue leader. That’s a functional leader. And they should be titled a VP or a chief sales officer and not a CRO. If you don’t own the whole buyer lifecycle, then you’re just you’re diminished. And it’s not through you part. But if you’re trying to align sales and marketing, and you’ve got your shop in order, then what happens on the other side, there’s got to be one throat to choke. There’s got to be one person who is responsible from the buyer from not knowing who you are to buying from you and being serviced by you. And there needs to be one person that at some point when the company is large enough, that’s not the CEO.

Nancy: Yeah, is there something in particular, you would like to spotlight and share with the audience?

Ed: I think that, you know, I talked a little bit about this in terms of keeping your eye on the buyer. And when we look at, I’m an advocate of customer service, customer experience, customer success, whatever you want to call it, there’s times different functions. But when you look at things like that, you know, I got my footing in my career in the outsource contact center. And what that really showed me was there, there’s an abundance of how do you handle a customer request. And that’s only one part of it, which is, customer has a problem, right? Nobody calls a company saying, hey, I just want to call and tell you doing a great job. Nobody does that. 

So you got to know the people that pick up the phone or send an email or initiate a chat are generally either having a problem, or trying to prevent a problem. And that’s only one part of your customer base. What about the people who aren’t engaging with you? How does that, you know, are they is that a higher risk of churn? Or is it a lower risk, and a lot of people I’ve talked to say, don’t poke the bear. We don’t want to engage with customers that aren’t engaging with us. Because, you know, we don’t want them to leave us. And I’ve heard that from three different people over the past six months. And I’m just looking at that to say, this is this is part of the problem of a customer experience program. 

And that’s kind of where I, I was fortunate to kind of have this instilled in me early on in my career. And it’s something that I’ve carried throughout my career, when you look at building marketing plans, well, the marketing plan should really be easy. You ask yourself some very clear questions, who is going to buy our product? Why are they going to buy our product? Are they facing problems that we’re going to solve? And we’re going down this path to say, does that problem get solved in different titles? Like could our product go to a finance team to an HR team, to a leadership development team, and if so, are though each of those buyers having different problems that I need to relate myself to? 

And it’s building that message carrying that over into the sales process. And if you’re doing that, right, then every handoff is, hey, this prospect, raised their hand and wanted a demo because they saw read some blog article. And so that blog article, reiterated something, maybe it was a problem or a case study. So the sales team needs to know that. So when you’re taking the sales process to discovery call the the demo, whatever event happens, it’s taking that through and not you know, that’s aligning it to the buyer, instead of a seller’s process, it’s got to be the buyer process. And that same thing handing off the customer service. Is handing that baton to say, hey, they bought because they had these problems. We were able to solve these problems. 

Customer success, go implement, go focus, the training, go focus, the outreach and engagement and making sure that this problem continues to be solved, and then start quantifying what that problem solution looks like. That helps get it off, get it away from price. So it’s this constant, that’s kind of the spotlight is I look at designing processes in departments, and we focus on the buyer and work our way back to us. And I think that’s the big thing that’s really shaped me of why I’m very passionate about alignment. And aligning not only teams but aligning the process to the buyer, and looking at the buying decision instead of the sales process or sales site.

Nancy: Boy I’m hearing your passion for sure. 

Ed: Yes. 

Nancy: I cannot believe we’re at the end of our program. And, you know, how can my audience find you, you have some really great examples of why it’s so important to get aligned. So how do we reach you?

Ed: Yeah, I’m, I’m on LinkedIn. Ed Porter. My company is bluechipcro.com is the website. And that’s those are kind of where I’m at. I’m I’m open to connecting. I’m I’m very picky, per se about connections, I want to know where people found me how they saw me and people that connect with me that don’t have a note. If I don’t see that we have some connections, then I may not accept it. Or if we do, I will pay you back with a note. Hey, thanks for connecting. Where’d you find me? How did you hear about me? What interested you about connecting with me and I’m not an open connector. I’ve got maybe 1000 or 1100 connections and that’s intentional. But I also like to engage with people so hit me up on LinkedIn, I’m happy to but let me know you heard me from Nancy’s podcast Conversational Selling.

Nancy: Yeah, everybody. We’re gonna do that. And you know, a very, very big thank you Ed for being on the show. And thank everyone for listening in. You know, be sure to reach out to Ed when you really want to get things right for you and your team and your company. And so I leave you with I want everyone to make it a great sales day, today and Ed I hope you come back.

Ed: Yeah, thank you. I’d love to I, as you can tell, I love talking. I go on a lot of different tangents. I word vomit myself, I talked about it. I absolutely love talking about these topics and engaging in great debates.

Nancy: Thanks again.

Ed: Thank you.

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

Brooke Dukes | The Secrets to Selling at the C-Level

Can you quickly identify the 4 types of executives?

Can you successfully sell to each of them?

Brooke Dukes can, and she’s here to share her secrets (and the science behind them).

As the Chief Sales Officer for the National Association of Sales Professionals, Brooke specializes in supporting salespeople in understanding the way the mind works. The NASP’s Human Success Operating System is a research-based program that integrates vision, motivation, and strategy into daily habits.

Our conversation goes into detail on a number of insightful, and actionable topics, including:

  • The Human Success Operating System (and how to upgrade it) 
  • How to increase motivation 
  • The quick and easy way to start selling at the C-level 
  • And more

You are in for a treat today. If you are looking to get your foot in the door and start selling at the next level or if you have a measurable goal you are struggling to achieve, you do not want to miss this episode. Reboot, reprogram, and upgrade your operating system 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 yeah, it’s time for Conversational Selling. The podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today and it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Brooks Dukes, Chief Sales Officer at Trusum Visions. For more than 30 years the Trusum family of brands has revolutionized on how the world thinks and behaves with the human success operating system. Particular interest for our audience today, Brooke is also the Chief Sales Officer at National Association of Sales Professionals. So overall, and we’ll dive into that in more detail, but overall Trusum has coached Forbes 400 executives, elite professional athletes, and industry leading organizations such as Disney, ABC, Quicken Loans and Honeywell to achieve their results during times of growth and in the face of crises. 

Before Trusum Visions, Brooke was a multi million dollar producer and excelled at various executive level sales and business development positions, including two Fortune 100 companies. She’s worked with some of the largest and most successful companies including Lear, General Motors, United Airlines, and across multiple industries such as insurance, skincare and cosmetics, technology and banking. So sales is all about mindset, thinking and behaviors. And we’re in for a great treat today as Brooke will share more about what’s so great about national sales, associate National Association of Sales Pros or NASP. So welcome to the show, Brooke can’t wait to get started. 

Brooke Dukes: Hi, Nancy, thank you so much for having me. 

Nancy: Yeah. So talk to us about NASP. Why it’s a great organization and why all sales people should be you know, at least made aware of it, if not join it.

Brooke: Well, NASP is the largest online sales association in the world. So the beauty of NASP is really the people. We offer a wide variety of offerings, programs, blogs, webinars, really a one stop shop for a sales professional or sales leader. And the really the differentiator with us is we specialize in supporting sales people in really understanding the way that their mind works. Right? So a lot of organizations and associations are all about strategy. And and nothing against that. But you can google strategy, right? 

With us, it’s about how to take any strategy, right, any strategy that an organization has and support their salespeople to be able to one understand it, and then two integrate it into their daily life. So we’re really all of our programs and everything we teach is about that conditioning process. Right? So really rebooting and reprogramming and upgrading our brain. That human success operating system, just like we would upgrade our phone, right? We all have to do that for our computers. 

Nancy: So talk more about the human success operating system, what is that about? 

Brooke: So we are so fortunate at NASP to have PhDs on staff, right, so they are constantly looking and researching and understanding and supporting us and creating our programs are all of our programs and all of our content. So as a human, our operating system is made up of our conscious and unconscious mind. Are identity, our beliefs, our habits, our decisions, environment, experiences, and most important, the meanings that we assign to all of these pieces. So with our HSOS, or human success operating system, it’s really helping people to understand, okay, here’s the goal that you want. It’s not just enough to know what you want. You also have to understand how the brain works to become a person that can achieve that, right? 

So on the moment that a salesperson or any person for that matter puts a vision out there, right, so a measurable target. Let’s just say, for instance, I want to be, you know, I want to make $150,000 in the year 2022. That’s a measurable target. Well, then what happens is, things come into our path, to help us to become to teach us the lessons needed to become a person that can achieve that. Everything we do supports people in creating that internal motivation, understanding what it takes to create the habits, that you need to then get the result that you desire. And also to recognize things that you may be doing habits that you may have today that are hurting your success that are stopping you from achieving what you want to achieve. 

Nancy: Well, how do you increase internal motivation? I’ve heard from people all the time, either they have a burning desire or they don’t. Right. And in sales, you have to have a passion, right, for wanting it. So how do you increase that?

Brooke: Well, if there’s only you have people, if people are either internally motivated, or they’re extremely motivated, right, so internal motivation is that you get that your certainty you derive your certainty, your self confidence from within, right, the external motivation, which, unfortunately, is a lot of where people live in America. So that is where you derive your certainty in your motivation from an external source. And you can tell about yourself or someone else, if you meet someone, and they say to you, oh, my gosh, you know, I really wouldn’t have worn that outfit, it doesn’t do anything for your color, I really don’t like it, or whatever the case may be. 

And it changes the way that you feel about yourself. Ot could ruin your day. It changes how you are extremely motivated. I know that’s a pretty elementary way to look at it. But it’s true, right? If you someone says that to you, and you say, whoa, I appreciate your opinion. And I still like it, and neither here nor there and you move on about your day, you’re internally motivated, right. You derive that source of everything we do, is to build that self esteem with in someone. That confidence, to be able to look at the world and to create the what you desire, from your own purpose from your own internal motivation. And we look at that from the human basic needs, right? So there are six human basic needs, four of which really determine whether you’re internally or externally motivated. 

Right, if you are motivated by growth, if you are motivated by you know, your own self confidence in the way you look at the world, if you are internally motivated. If you are motivated by you need people when they’re speaking to you, or when you’re having a communication to build up that self esteem, what they say to you can help you to look at the world differently, or can make you feel good or feel bad. Or if you need connection, if you cannot survive without really making others feel good at the own cost of yourself. Right? Yeah, you really have that external motivation. And we really support people in becoming internally motivated in everything that we do.

Nancy: So what I’m hearing a lot of is your own identity. Right? As you approach your role. Your role is your role, but your identity is who you are. And, you know, in the training that I’ve done, you always want to make your identity a 10 out of 10 as best as you can, right and not let your roll take that down a notch or two. Would you agree with that? 

Brooke: Absolutely. Our identity is everything right? The strongest force in human nature is the identity we hold of ourselves. Right. So if you to your point, if you have an identity of lack, right, I am not successful. I am not capable. Those are I am those are identity statements. And you have to really watch that because it’s very important. Words are powerful. If your I am statements are one of lack or one of scarcity or any of that. You really have to look at your identity, which is a made up of your beliefs, what do you believe about yourself?

Nancy: Oh, I love that example. That’s great. Speaking of love, you wrote an article, the secret to selling to C level executives. What prompted you to write it was your German Shepherd. So let’s talk about that. You know, I think many of us on this podcast can relate to loving animals, loving dogs, I’m a dog lover. So share the examples that you wrote about.

Brooke: Yeah, when, as we, as I’ve been in sales my whole life and we run a team of salespeople, a lot of times, they’ll be very intimidated by speaking to C levels. Right. And so what I tried to do with that article, we actually have a program about it, is to just make it fun. Because honestly, selling to C level, in my opinion, I felt, I felt the middle management, I have sold to purchasing agents I have sold to C levels. It is so much more fun to sell to C level executives, right. If you do it correctly. If you understand what they’re looking for. Kind of picking up from where I talked before. It’s the same concept. When you have a conversation with anyone they are, whether it’s one to one, one to many, whatever that looks like. They’re asking for one of four of the six basic needs. Connection, certainty. I’m sorry. Connection, significance, growth, or self esteem. 

And so I likened to that to dogs, because it would be very easy to understand. So for instance, a golden retriever. That person is motivated by connection. That dog is motivated by connection. They’re externally motivated, externally focused. If you think of it in that way, anytime you’ve ever seen a golden retriever, they’re all about anyone who’s around them. They just want to love. They don’t care, they will sit in the snow for hours and freeze up waiting for you to come. They don’t think about self, it’s all about others. If you look at that, when you’re thinking about that executive, that’s the executive that you meet them. 

And I know in this day and age, it’s a little different, probably meeting them through zoom. But someday when you meet them in person, again, they’re the ones that give you that really soft handshake. They might even touch you, when you walk into their office, there are pictures of family, it’s warm, it’s cozy, and they want to know you personally. That is a golden retriever executive. If you walk in, so if you think about a Doberman, a Doberman was they are a Rottweiler and a greyhound that were mated together. That’s what made it Doberman. If you think about them, they’re they’re kind of skittish, but they could attack, right? 

They you don’t see a lot of them around anymore, because they were so unpredictable, right? Because they had they’re very insecure and nervous. That’s self esteem. They’re an externally motivated, internally focused. If you think about that, that’s a pretty scary place to be because I’m only focused on me, but the outside world tells me what I need to feel about me. Right. And it’s think about that, from an executive perspective. That’s the executive that they’re the ones that they shake your head and they practically break it. Right. And they might even pull you towards them as an act of dominance. They, they lack self esteem, and it may come off at first a bit aggressive. A bit overbearing. They’re testing you every step of the way, like a Doberman. Right? If you think about them, they’re just always watching you. What are they going to do? They want to you to prove to them you can do what you say you’re going to do because what they’re saying, is I don’t feel good about me, by working with you, I want you to show the world how great I am. That is a Doberman executive. 

Then you think about a poodle. I’m thinking of a standard poodle, right? Not necessarily the miniature one, but a standard poodle. And they have a lot of them. You’ll see there if they have the big hairdos and they’re all they are internally motivated, internally focused. Their need that they’re asking for is significance. If you think about how a poodle a standard poodle, they strut around, they stand very tall, you know, that executive, same. You’ll come in, they’ll give you a firm handshake. They’re the ones that are saying, okay, my time is valuable, they’ll be looking at their watch. They don’t want a big, you know, getting to the nitty gritty of the details. They want a high level overview, tell me how you’re going to support me. 

Right, it’s about significance, not to be confused with the Doberman that needs you to give them significance because they have low self esteem. A poodle is they have confidence. They want to know you recognize and see their greatness before they will even have anything to do with you. So you know, they’ll be impeccably dressed. Right? They are all and they want to know, how are you going to help me meet my goal. Those leaders are I have a vision that follow me, and let’s do this, support me in getting there or get out of my way, right? Then you’ve got, lastly, a German Shepherd. Near and dear to my heart. 

I’ve own three of them, I adore them. They are internally motivated, and externally focused. If you think about a German Shepherd, they are very loyal. Right. And they can also be focused on themselves, but they’re are also focused on their pack. Right? With that type of leader, again, you’ll walk in it will be a firm handshake, not overly touchy, not overly firm to break it trying to make make dominance. And what you’ll notice is, they want the details because they’re focused on others, not just themselves. Right? So they want to make sure that what you’re offering serves everyone themselves and their team. They want to know those details. They want to know when you walk in that you’ve done the research. They’ve done their research. So they could want you to confirm what they have researched is real. So those are in a nutshell the four executives, as it relates to the human basic needs and how to respond to them. 

Nancy: Holy cow. So what we all need to do now is to get pictures of these four animals, or do you I don’t even know, if you sell something like that. Every salesperson should have it up on their wall as a reminder, as they’re engaging in conversation. 

Brooke: Absolutely. And all of our programs at NASP have a bit of that, in it. We call it the four colors. Right? And that is exactly that in supporting a sales person to quickly be able to identify whether it’s on the phone, via zoom, via email, or in person, the basic need that whoever they’re talking to is asking for, to help them quickly build rapport, and want to work with them. Because, you know, we know people buy for emotional reasons, and they justify with logic. So you got to build rapport right out of the gate. And if you know what need they’re asking for you are 10 steps ahead of your competition already.

Nancy: Wow, you know, Brooke, I can’t believe that we’re running out of time. Can’t believe it. What an interesting, amazing story. You know, let’s let’s kind of wrap this up with one takeaway. You’re you’re all about beliefs. And I think that’s really great. Believing in yourself, your abilities, but what’s the one takeaway you want to leave the listeners with?

Brooke: I would say that if you are not reaching your goal in any area of your life, it’s not the strategy. It’s not the how that’s the problem. Everything always starts with belief. Look at what you believe around that area of your life, whether it’s your sales career, whether it’s your relationship, whatever that may be, because you have a belief problem. If it’s your career, you either don’t believe in your own capability. You don’t believe in your company, the product, your leader, there’s somewhere that your belief is lacking. And you’ve got to build that belief before any strategy is going to work.

Nancy: Bravo, well said. How does my audience find you? 

Brooke: Well, you can go to nasp.com. Or you can email me direct at Brooke b r o o k e.dukes, d u k e s @nasp.com. 

Nancy: Great. So thank you, Brooke, for being on the show. And thank you all for listening in. Remember, reach out to Brooke and her team NASP. If you haven’t heard of it, go Google it get online and look at all of the wonderful tools that they have. Especially when you want to get things right. Make it a great sales day everyone. See you next 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 Nancy@oneofakindsales.com. To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at oneofakindsales.com/book.

Rob Smith | The 90 Day Small Business Sales Turnaround

Rob Smith is our guest on the podcast this week and he is here to help you discover your company’s growth potential. A 20 year corporate vet and fractional sales leader, Rob is now the President and Founder of 5S Sales Consulting and works with SMB companies to revamp and map a path for greater sales growth. His insights include:

  • Why businesses struggle to scale (and how to avoid these mistakes)
  • Why your best customers aren’t always who you think they are
  • How fractional leadership is changing the landscape of business
  • And more

Don’t wait another minute to take stock of your business, set your sales goals, and watch your business grow! 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 yes, 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 Rob Smith, president and founder of 5S Sales Consulting. 

As a former small business owner, it is his sole mission to help small and medium sized business owners grow their companies. He draws from over 20 years of broad and deep corporate experience in global and national sales leadership, p&l management, engineering and business development. Nothing excites me more than developing and implementing impactful plans and strategies that have clear, measurable and attainable objectives that ultimately build top and bottom line growth. Rob is going to share his expertise in assisting SMBs and adding to their bottom line. I am so glad you could join us today. Rob, welcome to the show. 

Rob Smith: Thanks Nancy. Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Nancy: Yeah, and you know, I think this hits home. For many small and medium sized businesses. It’s just the frustration that entrepreneurs face, I think is how to scale and grow their business. Why is it a struggle for so many companies?

Rob: You know, oftentimes the the companies that I engage with Nancy are, you know, they were started by an entrepreneur, that entrepreneur had an idea for differentiating product or service. And they were really, really good at doing that thing. But they’re really not good at sales. You know, maybe maybe they’ve been successful, they’ve hired a couple of reps. Oftentimes, I find that that entrepreneur is trying to act as the de facto sales manager. You and I both know that most times, you know that a business owners never spent really a day of their life in a formal sales function. So they really don’t know what they don’t know about getting the best out of their sales teams to propel their business into that next stage of growth.

Nancy: Yeah. But you know, the other end of it, though, there are some entrepreneurs out there that happen to be really good in sales, and maybe not as strong in other components of growing a business. But even, you know, I’m thinking about small businesses, the owner is good in sales, but they can’t grow it because they can’t do it all. What do you say to those folks?

Rob: Something that I’m sure you’ve heard before, is, you know, stop working in your business and start working on your business. You know, if if they are particularly skilled in sales, then, you know, maybe that’s where they should spend their time and off, offload some of the other stuff that tends to, you know, can be distracting, and could keep you in your own way, so to speak.

Nancy: You know, it’s funny, because I love selling, and somebody told me a long time ago, do what you hate doing when you have the most energy during the day, do what you love doing when you peak out if you would, and since I’ve applied that theory, in my own day to day, it really makes a difference, because you can come to life with what you’re passionate about. Would you agree with that? 

Rob: 100%. Absolutely. Yeah, you know, we think we have to do that we don’t like doing. And I agree with you that you should do that whenever your energy is highest. Because the stuff that you’re good at, you know, doesn’t require as much effort energy. You’re not as prone to procrastination, doing the stuff that you’d like to do. 

Nancy: Right. Right. So what are some of the key strategies in growing your business? I mean, how does the company get started?

Rob: Well, I think the first thing to do is to really take stock. You know, every company has assets, whether it’s, you know, physical equipment, or, you know, maybe it’s, you know, relationships in a particular market segment. I would say, you know, take stock, and maybe even before that, I’m not sure how many business owners you talk to who are like this, Nancy, but like when I sit down with a potential client, it’s really kind of a triage and I’m asking a bunch of questions and trying to figure out if I can help them. 

And one of the first questions I ask is, tell me about your sales goals. And oftentimes I just get the general answer, well, we want to grow. But that growth needs to, you know, needs to be a number, and I needs to be a dollar in the front, or a percentage in the back. So sometimes it’s as simple as saying, Hey, you know, I want to hit $5 million in sales this year, whatever that number may be.

Nancy: Well, how do you know how do entrepreneurs know what a reasonable goal is for growth? How do you determine that?

Rob: I think it’s, it’s in that taking stock process that I mentioned, and then just kind of backtrack and set a goal first. Through that, exercise through that, you know, just kind of taking a look at what you have to work with, that will give you a pretty decent idea as to how outlandish or how achievable that particular goal may be.

Nancy: So this is kind of where you stood step in, right. So you provide that kind of strategy for businesses? Is that how you help?

Rob: That’s how I help. Part of it. Yep. The strategy, mapping out the process, you know, what is the sales process? There is one, it probably just hasn’t been documented, or maybe it’s not all that clean. Execution and accountability. Measurements. Because if you’re not measuring it, it’s probably not going to get any better.

Nancy: Right? You know, I said earlier that you have experience and leadership, p&l management and engineering. What do you mean by engineering as it relates to sales?

Rob: Well, nothing necessarily as it relates to sales. But that’s, that’s where I started my career. I’d like to say I’m a recovering engineer, turned sales guy. Which is not something that you find all that often.

Nancy: Yeah, how did you manage to get into sales?

Rob: Well, I was I was a young engineer, my mentor, was the VP of Engineering at the at the little company that I was working at, and he took me out to lunch one day, not too far into my career, and, you know, looked at me across the table and said, Rob, you’re not an engineer. And I thought I’d messed something up. I thought I thought I was gonna get fired. But you know, so he can clearly see that I was flustered. He’s like, No, no, no, relax, relax, you’re a fine engineer. 

You do good job. But you’re just not you’re not wired to be an engineer. I said, okay, well enlighten me. What what am I? And he immediately, you know, came back, you’re your sales guy. And I was kind of offended by that. Just because there can be a little bit of tension on a company, especially manufacturing between the technical guys and the sales guys, and that kind of thing. But I on boarded that, and a couple years later had an opportunity to transition into sales at an entry level. And really the rest is history.

Nancy: How do you find your engineering background, though to be helpful? I would gather I mean, engineering is all step by step, isn’t it? Understanding the process?

Rob: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s, that’s where it helps me a lot is. Well, I mean, you ask the question, you know, before, how do you how do you figure out if a goal is attainable? I mean, engineering is problem solving. A lot of sales is problem solving. Just a different kind of problems. So you just break it. I think the training and breaking things down into small pieces, which you can solve the whole thing I think that really helped, has helped me and does help me on a daily basis. Yeah.

Nancy: So what would you say is your unique idea that is different and sets you apart?

Rob: You know, I think it’s just in sort of the holistic approach to fixing the sales problem. You know, there’s a lot of sales coaches out there, there’s a lot of sales trainers out there. There’s not as many folks like me who actually roll their sleeves up, get in and get dirty, and get in the weeds. 

Nancy: So, you know, like we talked to earlier, you set the sales goal, right? What would be the next step as it relates to creating the sales function and controlling it?

Rob: Sure. Well, I think it’s getting you’re getting your head around where your customers are currently. And so again, that taking stock kind of approach, the first thing that I do generally is try to build a client, like a two year sales plan. And in that you get into the numbers you get into the customers and, you know, it’s funny what you’ll find there. Sometimes you’ll find, you know, opportunities to take care of a particular customer, sometimes you’ll find that you’re, you know, your biggest customer is way, way too big and, you know, your portfolio isn’t diversified enough.

Nancy: Right.

Rob: There’s a lot to be ought to be learned in that identifying, you know, adjacent markets, that maybe you sell your product into, you know, this particular vertical but there’s one right next to it. That is unpenetrated and I suppose those are all really good sources for upside under taking, you know, more share from your existing customer base or expanding into, you know, different or adjacent markets? And a lot of times, you’ll find that who you thought was your best customer is really not from a margin perspective, for example,

Nancy: Okay. How long would you say it takes an organization who has zero sales structure? To get them to a point where it’s becoming a well oiled machine?

Rob: About 90 to 120 days. Give or take, but, you know, if you just want to, you know, general answer, I’d say, three months, is generally what it takes, because there’s a lot of heavy lifting a lot of infrastructure to put in place.

Nancy: Right.

Rob: If you have an existing sales team, there’s, you know, a period of winning hearts and minds, because you’re asking them to do things that they’ve probably never been asked to do, at least in that particular company. There’s a lot of kind of, there’s a lot to do.

Nancy: Yeah. And then after the three months, what’s your recommendation? I mean, it’s all good on paper, right? But how do you make sure that it’s being implemented daily, weekly, monthly, and so on?

Rob: Yeah, and that’s, that’s where the kind of the rigor and the discipline comes in. Because, you know, we can put all that work in, and then if everybody’s just allowed to kind of go back to what they were doing before. And, you know, that old muscle memory kicks back in and, you know, your efforts are probably, your you’re better, but you’re not as good as you could be. If you don’t have that follow through that kind of thing.

Nancy: You know, for my listeners out there, you know, you describe yourself as a fractional sales leader. Why would a company be interested in engaging you versus finding their own sales leader, internally?

Rob: Sure. Well, you get me first and foremost, Nancy. And I say that kind of tongue and cheek, but there are a lot of good sales leaders out there, you know, but I think what is different with me, in this particular space, small and medium sized businesses, generally up to about 50 million in annual revenue. Is you’ll get, you know, my 20 years of corporate sales experience and everything else that comes along with it for a fraction of what it would cost to hire somebody like me full time. So you get, you know, expertise, you get, you know, burning insight in from outside the company. Not that you wouldn’t get that with a new hire. But, you know, generally speaking, a small and medium sized business owner can’t afford a guy like me.

Nancy: Yeah. And then going back to what I asked before, so it takes three months, right, to get this program together. And then what what, what’s your role after that?

Rob: Sure, oftentimes, I stay on is that fractional sales leader to make sure that we’re establishing their muscle memory. We’re following through on the weekly sales meeting cadence. And, you know, the metrics are up to date and that kind of thing. So generally, my engagement over the life of it as a fractional leaders about 12 months. 

Nancy: Yeah. Okay. So is there something you would like to spotlight for the audience?

Rob: Um, you know, I think a lot of people just don’t understand fractional leadership. And it’s, you know, I focus on the sales, I try to keep my lane, pretty narrow and pretty well  defined, but there are others, say, in finance, or marketing, or HR, who kind of do the same sort of fractional functional leadership that I do. And I think it’s, I think if I can highlight one thing. It is just that as an option to a business owner, because these other fractional folks are generally coming from a background similar to mine, where they run a big, complicated organization and, you know, had an executive level type type role with them. 

Just any amount of expertise that you can bring into your company, for, again, at a fraction of the cost that it would take to hire a full time person on any of those functions. It’s really a great way, I think, to scale your business while you’re still trying to build that revenue. It’s just, I mean, in my humble opinion, it’s it’s a bargain for the for the quality of leadership that you’ll get. 

Nancy: Yeah. And I you know, I think more and more businesses are looking to outsource functions nowadays, especially SMBs versus having to engage full time candidates or employees. And you and I both know, hiring a sales leader and for that matter, sales reps often is a crapshoot, right. They could have the best experience in you know, on paper and actually could have had great roles, but it’s never a guaranteed it’s going to be a great fit within an organization. 

Rob: Exactly. So having a fractional leader in any of your functions within the businesses is a way to kind of de risk. If you don’t like the relationship, you can, you can end it. Right. But I want to key in on something you said just a minute ago. And I think especially now, as hopefully we’re starting to emerge from the economic funk that we’ve been in. Fractional leadership I think is going to be more and more in demand, because there’s a lot of companies who aren’t in that great of a spot, you know, they’ve kind of weathered the storm, so to speak. And now it’s time to start growing again. And fractional leadership is really a good way to kickstart that.

Nancy: Yeah, I don’t know if I like the word fractional, I think we can come up with a better word, it sounds like you’re getting the whole you for maybe, you know, reduced amount of time, but also reduced risk, right? You know, what you’re doing, and you don’t have to be trained by people internally. So we got to think of another name rather than fractional. And it’s not only you out there, I’m just saying.

Rob: I also say I’m, I’m an outsourced VP of sales. Does that strike you better?

Nancy: Yes. Just a thought. Anyway, what is one takeaway you would like to leave the audience with?

Rob: You know, I think it’s, you know, good enough isn’t good enough. You know, I think what’s so fun about what I do is a lot of times, it is sort of a turnaround type situation, and, and I’m still kind of surprised how many business owners will just live with what they have though you don’t have to. Right, I mean, I don’t care what you could do could be better in some way. Maybe it’s not sales, maybe it’s something else. But, you know, never be satisfied with the status quo. I think, you know, and that’s got a lot to do with, with just mindset, I think, you know, challenge yourself. Do better.

Nancy: Hey, sales is a sport, you got to train and be on top of things all the time, no matter how good you are. You know, we’re at the end of our program, Rob, and this has been a great conversation, how can my audience find you? 

Rob: Sure, you can find me on LinkedIn, you can find me on the web. You can email me. I don’t know if there’s a way for me to convey that just through audio but you can email me at rsmith@salesxceleration.com

Nancy: There you go, everyone. So I want to thank you all for listening in. I know that I’ve walked away with a couple of nuggets. I’m sure you have. Thank you Rob for joining the program today. And you know, remember to reach out to Rob when you are ready to grow and you want an expert. I would say boots on the ground right away. Make it a great sales day everyone and Rob I hope you come back.

Rob: Absolutely will if you’ll have me Nancy.

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

Melinda Emerson | How to Excel in Your Small Business

On this episode, we are joined by the world-renowned keynote speaker and America’s #1 Small Business Expert, Melinda Emerson, aka SmallBizLady.

Melinda is a bestselling author, podcast host, and blogger who reaches an audience of over 3 million entrepreneurs weekly, and consults with Fortune 500 brands who want to target the small business market.

There are 32 million small businesses in the US. They comprise 99.9% of all US businesses and Melinda knows the market inside and out. She is on the show this week to share insights that will not only help your small business survive, but thrive, including:

  • Identifying the 5 common reasons businesses fail (before it’s too late)
  • Discovering the #1 sales channel now and for the future
  • How to hack the content game (and boost the reach of your business online)
  • And so much more

So many businesses are trying to find their ground in our rapidly shifting economy. You don’t have to be one of them. Listen and learn how to navigate the digital content in the B2B and B2C marketplaces and become intentional about the content your business creates. Don’t just do it to do it, do it to succeed!

Mentioned in this episode:


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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese and it 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 the fabulous Melinda Emerson, aka SmallBizLady, and America’s number one small business expert. She’s an internationally renowned keynote speaker on small business development, social selling and marketing strategy. 

As CEO of Quintessence Group, her marketing consulting firm serves Fortune 500 brands who target the small business market. Melinda publishes a resource blog, succeedasyourownboss.com. Her advice is widely read reaching more than 3 million entrepreneurs each week online. She hosts the small biz chat podcast, and is the best selling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, and Fix Your Business, a 90 day plan to get back your life and reduce chaos in your business. So here’s some facts, everyone. I don’t know if everybody out there knows this. But there are 32 million small businesses in the US. According to the SBA, or Small Business Administration. Small businesses comprise 99.9% of all US businesses. Wow. Welcome to the show, Melinda, I can’t wait to dive in. 

Melinda Emerson: Thank you so much for having me, Nancy. 

Nancy: Besides being an amazing keynote speaker, everybody out there and the research I’ve done on Melinda, she is a lady to know, it’s 2021. We’re slowly getting out of the pandemic. So what trends Do you see with small business today?

Melinda: Well, I don’t know that it’s the trends that I see with small business as much as it’s the trends I see with small business customers, right, because I think the way people buy has changed. And I think that’s the thing everyone needs to realize, out of this pandemic. I mean, social media has emerged as the number one sales channel. Everyone’s online, you’ve got to figure out social media. And really, you’ve got to figure out online ads, probably in a lot of cases, depending on what you sell. Obviously, b2b, it’s all about LinkedIn, but it always kind of has been about LinkedIn, or b2b. But I think the interesting thing now is that when you look at social media, it’s really about Facebook, and YouTube, like video really has just emerged as the number one piece of content that people want to engage with. And we’re just seeing conversion numbers so much higher using video. I also think that decision makers, b2b decision makers are now 18 to 34 years old. And that’s new, you know.

Nancy: Not all of us. Not all of us. But you’re right. It’s a much younger community, right?

Melinda: It is. And you have to know how to communicate with that type of buyer and that type of decision maker because it is different. So I think that that is probably the biggest thing I’ve seen out of the pandemic is just like how people buy is different. And I don’t know that it’s ever gonna completely go back to what we did before.

Nancy: Yeah. Well, you know, you put up something that I’ve become aware of, I’ve got a 20 year old daughter, she lives on Tik Tok. Okay. And so if the age range of decision makers is between 18 and 34, shouldn’t we be doing something on Tik Tok?

Melinda: Yeah, if that’s who you’re targeting, absolutely. But I think I think the name of the game now in terms of social selling, is really figuring out the one or two channels where your fish are, and really focus in on those channels. I don’t think anyone unless you sell social media services, you don’t need to be on six channels. You really need to pick the one or two and you need to go all in on those until you see some results. And I mean, because it’s hard social media is hard. It’s really hard to quantify. You know, you can’t send brand awareness to your bank account, right? So you’ve got to figure out how to turn this stuff into sales. Into tangible pesos and dinero. That’s what we got to figure out.

Nancy: Pesos and dinero. Love it. Okay. So as an owner of a small business, I know firsthand. It’s not easy. I love what I do. So it definitely helps. Why do you think many businesses fail?

Melinda: Oh, gosh. There’s a lot of reasons why small businesses fail, I’m going to give you five of my biggest ones. I think that the number one reason why small businesses fail is because people underestimate how hard it is. I think because people were successful in corporate America, they think, oh, I’m just gonna start this business, you know, like, it’s gonna be great. And they don’t have any idea. Once they take away all that infrastructure and the IT department, you know, you got you taken on 10 or 12 jobs at one time. And you really have to understand that, and you’ve got to have a plan, you got to know who your customer is, and you got to really be focused, like the runway is shorter. Now, you, you’re playing with your own money. So you can’t hide behind another budget and another department, if you make a mistake, it’s your budget. 

So I think that that’s the number one reason. I think the second reason is because people don’t get clear enough about their niche customer. I think people are afraid to niche. And whereas they don’t realize that you are actually empowered, the more narrow of an audience you go after. And I give people the example all the time, who makes more money, your cardiologist or your primary care physician, right. So you got to figure out how to be the cardiologist for what you do. The third reason why small businesses fail is because they’re undercapitalized to begin with. You really do need to think through how much money you’re going to need to operate. 

And you’ve got to make sure you understand that it’s going to be weeble wobbly for a minute until you can start taking regular paychecks that are going to replace your corporate salary on averages in year three or four, when you can start taking a paycheck every time you’re supposed to if you’re lucky. You know, it takes 18 to 24 months for small business to breakeven. I don’t think people completely think that through. And at the same time, I also think people are not fiscally disciplined. So what happens is, if you don’t run your household with a budget, you’re probably not gonna run your business with one. And so you’re gonna make decisions based upon what email comes to you what conference what toy what this. No, you shouldn’t spend $2 in a vending machine that’s not in a budget. 

I’m serious. And so I think that people have to really be realistic about the skills that they need to learn prior to starting a business. Because if you’re bad with money in your life, you will be bad with money in your business. And I think the fifth thing is people spend so much time chasing new customers, as opposed to nurturing existing customers. And I tell people all the time, it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to go out a new one, because the most expensive sale you’ll ever make is the first one. And so I want to get people in the habit of loving on their existing customers, because that’s where that repeat business. That’s where that advocacy stuff is going to happen. That’s where those referrals are going to come from. It’s gonna come from existing customers. So love on them, please.

Nancy: Yep. Well said. You know, to add on to your comment about niche. Me it’s always niches rich. The grime, right? 

Melinda: Oh, yeah. Niche is rich is what I tell people. Absolutely. 

Nancy: Right. Niche is rich. Love your title, Small Biz Lady. All right, catchy. How did you become that?

Melinda: Oh, man, let me tell you, that is actually a really funny story. So back in, 08, when I wrote my first book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. I turned it into my publisher, September 1, 2008. And then two weeks later, right, the market crashed the sky fell, you know, people’s 401Ks became 10Ks. Remember that? So my publisher called me up and said, thank you so much for being a first time author that actually turns your book in on time. But with all these people losing their jobs, we don’t think anyone’s thinking about entrepreneurship right now. So we’re going to shelf your book until March of 2010. They shelved my book for 18 months. 

Nancy: Whoa. 

Melinda: And I was like, holy macaroni Batman, what are we gonna do? Right? I was like, What am I gonna do? Because at that point, I originally had a video production company that I had wound down thinking I’m about to go on this national tour and become America’s number one small business expert. That’s what I that’s what I thought was gonna happen. So when it didn’t happen, I was like, oh my gosh, what do I do and a friend of mine in the National Speakers Association said look, if I were you I would get a publicist start publicizing that book like it was coming out. And I was like, are you serious? And they were like, yeah. And you know what this new social media thing starting to get hot? Maybe you should learn that too. Figure out how to leverage that. So again, this is 2008. Twitter was one year old. Like, friend me, follow me, like all this stuff that people do now. 

So literally, I found the one publicist in Philadelphia that knew anything about social media, I hired her. And she was like, all right, you mean, we got 18 months to build your author platform. I mean, even back then people didn’t even use those two words together author platform. I didn’t know what this woman was talking about. So she said, I know what we’re going to do. I said, what are we going to do Kathy? And she said, we’re going to go out to Twitter and build your brand. And I said to her, what is Tweeter? I did not know what it was. And so she said, look, don’t worry about it. I’ll teach you how to use it on my account. And so. And then finally, the day came for me to get my own Twitter account. Yay. 

So I’m in front of my computer on the phone. She’s in front of her computer on the phone. She said, All right, go to twitter.com and put in your name, and we’ll get you an account. So I go to Twitter, I put in Melinda Emerson. And then I get this notice back, this name is already taken. Oh, I was like what? First of all, my name Melinda is not common. Like, when I was a kid, you remember, you go to the gas station, they have like all those key chains, my name was never there. And I was just like, you got to be kidding me. So as a joke, we went over to Facebook, put in Melinda Emerson and found out that there are seven other Melinda Emersons in the United States, however, I’m the only black one. 

Anyway, so she was like, look, we got to come up with a nickname for you. And I said a nickname. You mean like Mindy or Melly Mel is that? She says, no fool. You’re not a rapper. I’m not gonna give you a name like that. And I’m like ok, you don’t have to talk to me like that. But all right, she said, we get to come up with a name that tells people who you are and what you do. And so that was the day that I became the Small Biz Lady. And I will tell you that that was the best branding accident that ever could have possibly happened to me. But I never would. I mean, I wish I could tell you there was this big branding company I hired. No, it was two people on the phone. And we had about five minutes to come up with a solution.

Nancy: Oh, my Lord, and it’s stuck all these years. Hey, you know, what do you want me to spotlight? What do you want to talk about and promote?

Melinda: Well, you know what, the story that you just asked me is important, because that book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, has been in print for 11 years, it is in multiple languages around the world. And the third edition is coming out this September. So we’re doing a revised and expanded version of Become Your Own Boss. And I am very, very proud of that that book has sold like 100,000 copies. I mean, and I remember when I wrote that book, I was scared to death. Like I didn’t know if anyone would care what I had to say. Because back then when I wrote it, I hadn’t even hit, you know, a million dollars in revenue. And you know, that was like the magic number for business success, you know. 

So I think that people need to understand that a good idea is still a good idea. And no matter who you are, no matter where your door is, the world is still waiting on a better mousetrap. And if you build the mousetrap, people will build a beat a path to your door. And that book is a perfect example. Because that book really launched my reinvention as a small business expert and small business coach, which led me to corporate contracts. I mean, what happened to me was my book and how well I promoted my book made corporations call me and be like, we think you can help our social media department. 

Can we meet with you? And then it created a whole nother consulting company for me, that we completely pivoted 13 years ago, and we’ve never stopped. And it was all because of how well I built my own brand that other companies were like, oh, we need, we need you to come in here and talk to our entire marketing organization about what the Small Business customer is and what they need. And that has created an amazing opportunity for me. But but I’ll say this, too. Not only did the book create opportunities for me, but my blog created opportunities for me. You won’t even believe I had the opportunity to be a columnist for entrepreneur for two years. The woman who was my editor said she read my blog for one year before she called me. Yeah. 

And then after I wrote for them for two years, I got a call from the New York Times what If I was interested in writing for them, and so I wrote for the New York Times, and then you’re the boss blog for two, two and a half years. And so these opportunities came, because I was focused on my niche. I’ve developed great content, and I did it consistently. And I became a trusted expert. And from there are so many other opportunities can come to you. But this content game is not an easy game to play. And you got to be the deal with content now, because everybody’s doing content. It’s about are you writing something that’s better than what’s out there? Are you writing something that’s more in depth than what’s out there? You know, I love to see somebody attempt at a blog post. I’ll be like, I’m gonna crush that topic. You take that and look at that. 

And like, oh, no, they did 10 I want to do 25 tips, okay. I think you have to kind of have that mentality, if you want to figure out how to position yourself above the fray. Because everybody’s doing content, but not everybody’s doing good content. So I think that if you are doing things that are excellent, like your podcast is excellent. How you prep people is excellent. So when people come on your podcast, they’re prepared, they’re ready. They know what’s going to happen, and you publish it consistently. And that is what’s building your brand. But it’s also building the people who you interview, that kind of stuff is important, and building those relationships. 

And so I just think that the name of the game now his expertise like it, because you want to demonstrate your expertise in such a way that when clients call you, there’s no conversation about whether or not you can solve their problem. Your conversation is about availability and price. And that’s the reason content and thought leadership, and podcasts and videos and audio and written articles are important. Because you don’t want to I’m not gonna convince you that I can help you reach more small businesses. I’m not gonna convince you that. You have to know that when you pick up the phone and call me and why you know, that is because you put my name in Google, I think the first 19 pages is me. And so that that’s where people got to get to. I mean, but you got to write 5000 articles to get there. So, you know.

Nancy: Hey, are you hearing this folks? Listen to this lady!

Melinda: You know, so I, you know, and I was trained as a journalist in college. So, I am a prolific writer, because I wanted to be a writer since I was in eighth grade. So I think that it’s hard for you to compare yourself to somebody like me, because I’m a master content developer. And I’m an animal, you know, I’m beast mode all the time. So.

Nancy: So I guess the solution is, for us, folks that are not prolific writers, you want to hook on to somebody that can get your message out in the way that Melinda just suggested, right?

Melinda: I mean, yeah, you definitely want to figure out what type of content feels good for you, right? If you hate to write, please don’t start a written blog. Don’t do that. That’s terrible. I don’t want you to do that. You have to figure out is it images? Is it videos? Is it podcasts? You know, is it cheat sheets? Is it webinars? What is it like? What is your thing that you like to do? And that you do well. Figure that out and then figure out your content schedule and how often you’re going to do it and how you’re going to do it. And what’s your value ladder behind it? Like, what do you selling? Like don’t do content just to do content. Do content, because ultimately, you’re trying to sell something. So you want to breadcrumb people to that, but you want to hit them with the value first. 

You can’t lead with the sale, you got to lead people to your solution, you can’t lead with your solution. And I think that’s a lot of the problem of stuff. There’s like bad sales practice out here all over the place. Like I don’t know about you, but Nancy, I have these people who connected me on LinkedIn. And then two seconds later they emailed me what they do. I don’t know you. What you just did was walked in a bar and asked me to marry you. I don’t know you. Getting to know me. Make me be comfortable with you send me some free content. Send me something of value to me. Make me think about how I can help you. I mean, people have forgotten the social part of social selling, you know, we still have to do give to get, it’s almost like going to a networking event. You go to the networking event and become a bragger source and talking about you or do you act more interested than interesting, right? 

Nancy: That’s right,

Melinda: I think is where people get messed up on. And it’s true online as much as it’s true in person, or it takes five to 30 contacts to really build a relationship. Five to 30. The average b2b sale, they’re going to look at three to five pieces of content about you about your brand about your product before they ever pick up the phone and call a sales rep. That’s what’s you got to know. That’s why content is important. Because people can get all kinds of information. It’s almost like Santa Claus. You never know who’s watching, right. So you really have to make sure that your content is on point.

Nancy: Well, you know, Melinda, we’re running out of time here and I could go on and on and on. You are awesome. I want my audience to find out how to get in touch with you. I think it’s so important. So how do we reach you?

Melinda: Well, I am SmallBizLady on every platform, except for LinkedIn. LinkedIn makes me use my government name, which is Melinda Emerson. Please come find me connect with me. I also have Small Biz Lady University. If you’re looking for some tools or tips on how to sell online, come holla at me at Small Biz Lady University, I’ve got some great tools over there to help you launch a business, reinvent a business and build your business online. So come and check us over there.

Nancy: One last question. One takeaway you want to leave the audience with?

Melinda: I think the one takeaway that I want to leave your audience with is that you never lose in business. Either you win, or you learn. You know, some lessons get to be more expensive than others, but as long as you learn them, so you don’t have to learn them again. That’s what business is all about.

Nancy: Have you ever considered stand up comedy? 

Melinda: No, but people tell me I’m funny. So no.

Nancy: Yeah, you know you’re funny. Come on!

Melinda: SmallBizLady gig has me working 20 hours a day as it is. I don’t know if I got started now at my age and stand up comedy. I don’t know.

Nancy: Always do something that your competition isn’t right? So a huge thank you, Melinda for sharing your expertise. And I want to just thank the audience for listening and some really really great ideas, suggestions and listen to her passion. I mean, it exudes through a phone call. So we know how to reach her. Get in front of her. Have a fantastic sales day everyone and see you next 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 Nancy@oneofakindsales.com. To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at oneofakindsales.com/book.