Bill McCormick | How to Leverage LinkedIn for Sales

“Ditch the pitch, provide value and insight,” so says our guest this week. Bill McCormick is the Chief Sales Officer and LinkedIn Strategist at Social Sales Link. He went from being a student of social selling to providing sales leaders and sales teams with the lessons and tools they need in order to deal with the changing environment of the modern buying journey. He teaches sellers how to build stronger relationships online and make the connection from digital to face-to-face.

Too often we are focused on the sales process and not the buying process. Bill reminds us that on LinkedIn, a quick connection is not an invitation to try a hard sell. His lessons on leveraging LinkedIn relationships for sales success include:

  • Stop telling them how you can help them and just help
  • Be consistent in creating and posting content with client value
  • Be a resource and the sales will come
  • And many more…

LinkedIn is the Google of business, a networking room that is always open. Build relationships with your ideal clients. It starts with your profile; there are no quick steps to social selling success so approach it from what your clients need. Social selling is the way of sales today and we are fortunate to have Bill with us as we learn what works. And don’t miss his free offer. Listen now!

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, then 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 Bill McCormick, Chief Sales Officer and LinkedIn Strategist at Social Sales Link. He provides sales leaders and sales teams, the tools necessary to deal with the changing environment of the modern buyer’s journey. Bill actually discovered the power of LinkedIn, and social selling when he and his wife started their advertising specialty company over five years ago. With only a handful of clients, he quickly became a student of social selling, discovering how to find leads and generate sales. 

Now Bill’s passion is to take what he’s learned, and pass that on to those in sales, helping them leverage LinkedIn to build stronger relationships, and making connections from the digital space to the face to face. LinkedIn is such a powerful tool, I think we all know that to attract, especially in the b2b space to attract, engage and convert prospects. And yet most of us, including me, don’t leverage it to its capability. So all of you listeners out there, get your pen and paper out as Bill shares, tips and tricks that will make us more successful. So excited to have you on the show, Bill. Welcome.

Bill McCormick: Thanks so much, Nancy, I’m excited to be here excited to talk to your listeners about how we can leverage LinkedIn and incorporate it into our selling process. But more importantly, to help our buyers with the buying process. I think sometimes we’re too We’re too focused on the sales process, we forget that there’s a buying process that’s out there too. And if we pay attention to that the sales process takes care of itself.

Nancy: Cool. I’m definitely gonna pick your brain on that. But I want to start with, you know, leveraging LinkedIn for lead generation. Why is it such an effective tool? 

Bill: Well,  I think, first of all, every every LinkedIn trainer that’s out there that heard you see those, say those two words together probably cringe like lead generation on LinkedIn, because there’s so many companies that are out there doing it doing automation around that. And it’s kind of given it a bad name. But really, what it comes down to is finding the people who you want to get in front of, you know, having an idea of, you know, the the ideal client profile, which you know, we should all have that. But if you’re in b2b sales, there’s a good chance that those people are on LinkedIn, one of our clients, we were talking to him, kind of interviewing them about how we help them. 

And and they said, well, of course, we want to train you on LinkedIn, because isn’t LinkedIn, the Google of business? And I was like, wow, there’s a there’s a saying, and it’s true, that, you know, LinkedIn is a is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week, 365 day a year networking group. There are people in there all the time. So it makes sense that that’s if that’s where our buyers are, that that’s where we should be. The thing is, is that we have to to approach that in the right way. It’s not telemarketing. And it’s not email marketing, or social media marketing. Social selling is different from that.

Nancy: Okay, how so? 

Bill: So our definition of social sales link of social selling is that it’s building relationships, providing value and being a resource and understanding that the sales will come when the time is right. And many sales people have a problem with that last part, because they want the time to be right now.

Nancy: Yeah. They’re not being real. I mean, it doesn’t happen. You know, the first time you shake somebody’s hand, doesn’t mean you’re gonna you’re going to close business with that person.

Bill: Yes, that’s exactly true. But what’s happening on LinkedIn right now are people are coming on and connecting, and rather than connecting with you and shaking your hand, they’re they’re digitally shoving their business card in your face and saying, Nancy, we help companies just like yours. And I think where that’s coming from is there’s so let me just go back and like two years ago, what was happening on LinkedIn was people were connecting not sending a personal note just kind of blindly connecting with people. And if you accepted one of those connection requests, they would send back a pitch of their product or service. 

Nancy: Right. 

Bill: And then at about a about a year ago, this thing called COVID came and all of a sudden, all these outside sales reps were stuck in their houses. And they had no way of getting to their clients or getting to prospects, they couldn’t go knock on doors, they couldn’t call people because many people weren’t in the offices yet. They hadn’t forwarded their phones. And so they suddenly switched to this pitch on LinkedIn, where it transformed into this now where rather than just sending a connection request, I’m going to send a connection request with my pitch right in it. And I’m going to pitch to you, and I don’t know who’s teaching them that. I don’t know how it can ever be effective. 

Because if I’m going to sell to you, I’ve got to develop a relationship with you. And you know, and what really blows me away are people in the financial services sector that’s doing that or doing this. You know, they’re sending these blank connection or these connection requests with this pitch about, you know, dealing with my money. I don’t even know you, I don’t know if you’re credible. So I think that I think what’s happened is we want quick, we want plug and play, we want the five steps to building a successful financial services market. And we know that if we do step one, and then step two, and step three, then step four, and five will happen. And the problem is the real world’s not like that. We have to develop relationships.

Nancy: So you know, you you’re this a great segue into another question or statement, you know, you You’ve stated, ditch the pitch and provide value and insight. How do we do that on LinkedIn?

Bill: We have to stop telling people that we can help them or how we help them and we just have to help them. And it starts, it starts with our profile, your profile is not about you, it’s not about your years of service, it’s not about how you’ve won the President’s club award. When I see a salesman that puts in their on their LinkedIn profile about how they’ve won so many awards for being top salesman, I’m like, they’re gonna rip, they’re a really good salesman, they might rip me off, you know. We have to realize that our profile has to be about our ideal prospects. And we have to write it from that point of view, we have to create it as a resource so that when they land on our profile, it resonates with them, it creates some curiosity. It teaches them something new, it gets them thinking differently, and most importantly, gets them asking for more or at least gets them interested in more.

Nancy: Yeah.

Bill: That’s really where it starts. What we say is really your your profile is the foundation of everything you’re going to do. Mark Hunter said it best. You know, he said that these days, our reputation arrives before us. And often the way it arrives before us is our profile on LinkedIn.

Nancy: Wow. You’re so true. Especially you know, when you said what you said earlier, it’s a networking community that’s on 24/7, every day of the year. So we might as well learn how to use it right to be effective for our audience. You also stated, somewhere I read that a lack of productivity is akin to being busy and broke. Great statement. How does this relate to LinkedIn?

Bill: LinkedIn really is all about consistency. And really, anything we do in sales is about consistency. Consistency is our friend. But really what it is, is consistently doing the right things. I can be busy on LinkedIn, I can look at people I can, I can like some people’s posts, right, I can click the react button, you know, and that’s kind of like a drive by. And that doesn’t help anything that doesn’t help start conversations, consistency will help create more conversations on LinkedIn. And it has to do with everything from from being on a regular basis by creating and posting content. That’s a value, not what you want to say, I set out on a coaching call today, I tend to get in an echo chamber, right, I have this cognitive bias. I’m really against automation on LinkedIn. 

So I find I post a lot about automation on LinkedIn. And you know, who likes all that stuff? All the other LinkedIn trainers who aren’t my ideal clients, they’re just my you know, the choir, I’m preaching to the choir. I’m saying what what I already know what what we need to do is find out our clients or prospects. What are they interested in reading? And I call this the difference between the golden rule and the platinum rule. Everyone’s heard of the golden rule. Do unto others as they would have done unto them. So that’s me posting about what I want to post about, but the platinum rule is that do unto others as they want to be done unto. So find out what is it that your clients, you know, I’m at the at the end of the day, I’m a sales trainer I’m helping people to, to use LinkedIn to create more sales. 

So as a sales trainer, what are sales people? What do they want to know about? And that’s what I should be creating content for. And if I do that on a consistent basis, all right, Bob Burg in Endless Referrals said said at the end of the day, all things being equal people do business with people they know, like and trust. Well, how do they get to know you like you and trust you? Well, the way the way they do that is if when we can attract, teach and engage them on LinkedIn, we attract them with good quality content that they want to read that answers their question. We teach them something, right we we create curiosity, we teach them something new, we we save things from kind of a different perspective. And then when they react to that, when they comment on it, we engage on that back. 

And that takes consistency. So if you think about if you’re standing out in front of your house, and that’s your post, you’re you’re saying some things, and people come by and people view that post, right? So they drive past your house, the ones that way that you they’re the ones that react, they give that reaction, you may wave back, that’s great. But what you want is to have conversations. And so those people that comment on your posts, they’re people that pull over to the side of the road there will roll the window down, they say, hi, Nancy. And then what do you do? What do you do then? If you just give a thumbs up and go back in the house that’s just like liking their comment. But if you say, I’m doing great, how are you, you then started a conversation. That’s how people get to know like, and trust you. 

And that’s how they get to see you as a thought leader in your specific sphere or industry. I love what Kenan said, he said, relationships are great, but really where people do business with people they find credible. And that and by building credibility, that’s where you become the go to person in your sphere that they know that, hey, if I need, you know, when it came time for me to look for LinkedIn training, I went to Brynne Tillman because I knew that she was credible. And that’s kind of how we started our relationship. So really consistency is doing on a regular basis. 

And listen, if you’re listening to this, and you know, maybe you only post once a week, or maybe not even that, for me to tell you to post every day would be crazy, right? It should be an attainable goal. If you’re posting once a week, try uploading it to two or three times a week, if you’re doing three times a week, try to go to four times a week, the more consistent you are, the more success you’re going to have. It has to do a lot with the algorithm, the algorithm as you post more and have more engagement on posts, it will begin to release your your your content to more people. And a lot of folks don’t understand that.

Nancy: So is there too many posts that you know people do you know, you post one a day like what’s what’s the platinum rule on how many things you post or share?

Bill: So if you post more than one time a day, you’re going to end up shooting yourself in the foot because the algorithm will actually suppress one and not raise the other. So once a day is great, if you’re going to do two posts a day, they recommend six hours between posts. And so really doing one and then you should post and then make sure you’re monitoring that post and you’re replying to conversations, right? You’re, you’re replying to comments on it, because that’s what’s going to really drive the engagement. Because as you reply to comments, more people are going to end up seeing that.

Nancy: Yeah. So we started the conversation and you talked about the buying process, right, the selling process and the buying process. Can you go into that in a little more detail?

Bill: Yeah, sure. So the selling process is what I want to do. So I want to get you on a call, I want to tell you how great my product and my services are. So that I kind of browbeat you into saying, okay, okay, Bill enough. Yeah, I’ll use your I’ll use your services. And I’m being a little facetious there. But but that’s what it is. It’s about me. It’s about I’m in the driver’s seat. And I’m going to do what I want to do. Let me get through my questions that I have to ask because my boss says I have to ask these questions. And they’ve done some study at a high level and determined that if I ask these questions in just the right way that 85% of the people are going to buy so let me get through my questions and that’s the selling process. 

The buying process means that I come into a meeting or get on a zoom call with you get on an insights call with you get on a sales call with you with high intention and low attachment. That’s a Scott Schilling thing. You come in when I come in with a high attention of how can I serve you. What insights and resources can I give you to help you. And I have low attachment to the end result. Because if I’m because let’s face it, the end result for me is I want you to buy from me, right? But nobody likes, nobody likes to be sold to but everybody likes to buy. And the whole idea of the making it about the buying process is allowing you to reach that conclusion. So if I’m, if I’m really attached to that outcome, then I’m I’m pushing you, you know that that’s what I’m putting, if we could still meet in person, that’s what I’m putting the pen on the contract and sliding across the table with that smooth move, you know, so what’s keeping you from signing with us today. 

And that kind of thing isn’t going to work. Now what we have to do is make it a buying process and make it about our, our, our clients. And I, I believe it was Michael Port, who said it, that we should give away so much value that we think we’ve given too much and then give more. And, and we and we should be doing that when we’re talking to our clients. How can we serve you? And how can we help you so so that you get to the point where like, wow, if if they’re giving me this much free? I imagine how much I’m going to get with them if I if I work with them. And when I work with them.

Nancy: Man, we should have carved out two hours for this conversation. What do you say is so interesting. What would you like us? Or what would you like to spotlight.

Bill: So we we love like free stuff, we love to give away resources. And so if your listeners go to socialsaleslink.com/library, they can sign up, they can sign up as a silver member, which is our free level of membership. And they’ll get all of the access to our whole content library, which are a lot of digital resources, replays of past webinars, replays of past master classes where we’ve talked to people such as Darrell Amy and Larry Levine. We had Jeff Bajorek just last week. Next week, we have Richard van der Blom, who is one of the LinkedIn algorithm experts. Liz Windley coming up in April, I believe, and you can hear and if you go listen, you’ll listen here a lot of stuff I’ve said today because I’m not that smart. I, I learned a lot from other people, but but we would love to have people be a part of that free content library so that they can learn the best practices on social selling and leveraging LinkedIn to build their business.

Nancy: Yeah, tell me something that’s true. And nobody agrees with you on.

Bill: So this is I had such a hard time with this question. Because I’m a nice guy, I want everyone to like me. But you know, I think in the social selling world, you know, the truth that there are other ways to reach out to clients then via LinkedIn, I, you know, a lot of social sellers will tell you cold calling is dead, and you shouldn’t be doing that. And email marketing doesn’t work. And here’s the thing, that’s true, except when it’s not. And I know that what I realize is, you know, I don’t just use LinkedIn, you know, I really am a multi channel person. And I will actually pick up this funny thing sitting next to me, that is a telephone, and I’ll call clients and I will call prospects. But I would think that there are many in the social selling realm in the LinkedIn training realm that would disagree with me on that and say, yeah, that doesn’t work. So I guess that’s the that’s the thing that that I believe that that some people would not agree with me on.

Nancy: Well, you and I are in the same boat, because that’s what we make our livelihood on here. So picking up the phone.

Bill: Great minds think alike.

Nancy: You’ve got it, but also I like you, I totally believe in multi channel outreaches, then you know, you’re doing everything you can. And, you know, gosh, we’re at the end of the program here. Two other questions. What is one takeaway you’d like to leave the audience with?

Bill: Well, I’ve had to say that in your social sell my activities, make sure that you’re authentic and genuine, don’t fall into the trap of using mass outreach. Don’t use automation on LinkedIn, because LinkedIn’s Terms of Use is against that and you can be shut down. But really be authentic and be genuine that you can never go wrong with that.

Nancy: Awesome. And finally, how can my people find you.

Bill: Sure that well they can look me up on LinkedIn. Bill McCormick and then if you put in the the initials masi after my name is an industry designation leftover from LinkedIn. So Bill McCormick masi, find me on LinkedIn. Please send me a personal note and say that you heard me on Nancy’s podcast or just go to socialsaleslink.com. I have a contact page on there. Even a place where folks can schedule a call 15 minute profile review call with me.

Nancy: Well everybody out there go go go. You know, it’s been fantastic. Thank you all for listening in and Bill for your participation. Have a fantastic sales day everyone and remember reach out to Bill. Not only does he know a heck of a lot more about LinkedIn, he wants to hear from us and will provide awesome value. Thanks for being on the show, Bill.

Bill: Thanks so much, Nancy. And thanks everyone for listening. Hope to hear from you soon.

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.

Jose Palomino | Cracking the Code for Revenue Growth

Business owners often struggle to connect their strategy, marketing, and sales efforts. Understanding how opportunities convert into revenue, diagnosing, and removing obstacles preventing the flow of opportunity into revenue is the expertise of our special guest this episode. Jose Palomino is the Founder and CEO of Value Prop and the developer of the Revenue Throughput System. For over 15 years, Jose has been giving companies a high-level view of their business, a clear game plan, and explosive revenue growth.

Jose is a true strategy wonk who is driven to help smaller, owner-led companies crack their revenue code, find the patterns of growth in their business, and reproduce them for greater success. In our conversation he goes into depth on:

  • Why connecting strategy, marketing, and sales is a challenge
  • The importance of evaluating the “way things have always been done”
  • Asking, “what is within your power to improve?”
  • How his Revenue Throughput System works
  • And so much more…

Whether you are B2B or B2C, in manufacturing, service, or insurance, Jose has insights that will help. If you are looking to grow revenue with a purpose and are ready to see results in 90 days, this is the episode you want to hear!

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

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. Today we are speaking with Jose Palomino founder and CEO of Value Prop. He started Value Prop Interactive over 15 years ago, because he saw business owners struggle to connect their strategy, marketing and sales efforts. They were frustrated by a lack of efficiency and revenue growth. 

And as a result to help them, he developed the revenue throughput system, a unique process that diagnosis the volume and velocity that a business converts opportunities into revenue. With the revenue throughput system, owners get a high level view of their business, a clear game plan for growth and explosive revenue growth. He’s the author of Value Prop. He’s also an adjunct professor at Villanova University, and a trusted advisor and national speaker for Vistage International. So what’s really jumping out to me, Jose is explosive revenue growth. And oh, yeah, that’s music to my ears for sure. So I’m so glad you can join us today. Jose, welcome to the show.

Jose Palomino: My pleasure, Nancy, happy to be here. It’s my favorite topic, too.

Nancy: Yeah, really? I think a lot of us have that in common. Right. So I want to go back to a statement that I made earlier. And I think it’s fair to say that most business owners struggle with connecting all of the components, you mentioned, strategy, marketing and sales. Why is it such a struggle for most of us?

Jose: Yeah, I think there’s just two categories, right. So there’s the owner who owns a business that’s big enough to have certain leadership team. So let’s say somebody’s running a manufacturing concern, and they’ve gotten it up to like 15 million a year or something like that. They probably have a COO, they have a CFO, perhaps they may have somebody who’s called like director of marketing, and maybe somebody head of sales. So now you have the an owner, who probably started the company, smaller grew it, unless they acquired the company. And now they have other people with ideas of what needs to happen. So they’re not necessarily used to that, especially if they’ve been doing this for a long time, 2030 years running this business. 

So it tends to be a business where everything flows to that person. So you would think that would bring about like an integrated idea. But what actually happens is everyone else who wants to speak up doesn’t speak up that well, that often. And, you know, certain owners don’t have a style that really invites, it’s almost like anyone have any other ideas that agree with mine. That’s all too often. That’s what you end up with. And so I think, I think the idea that, I think also looking at it as that strategy, marketing, sales has to be looked at, like dimensions of the whole. intellectually, they these are smart people, they know that, but they don’t live in that. So they tend to think about strategy is something we might think about once a year marketing, something Joe or Mary is doing on that website stuff. 

And sales. As you know, Larry has been running sales, we have four sales people. And you know, Larry, Larry knows the business. He knows the stuff. He’s doing what he’s doing. So they never elevate the conversation to say, well, what if we actually started talking about these things together? And thinking about how we can maybe look at the market with fresh eyes, maybe make some different assumptions, rather than the same old assumptions that we’ve been living by? And oh, by the way, it’s been three years since we’ve had substantial growth. We’re okay. But we haven’t pushed past. Why is that? That’s, I think that’s part of what goes to answer your question.

Nancy: Yeah. So it’s really looking at the whys and why not? Why can’t we do this? constantly thinking outside of the box? Would that be a simple way of putting it?

Jose: I think so. And of course, you know, even even that thoughts something they’ll say, Well, you know, I again, you gotta, you gotta, you got to pay for the box. You got to live in a box. You can’t go completely outside the box. And there’s a truth to that. And as you run the business, you run, you’re limited. You’re not, you’re not a division of Microsoft, or GE that has, you know, $50 million to burn. It’s all right. It’s all like, as they say, it’s all real money right at that point, and it’s yours and you have to keep it. But it is willing to challenge assumptions or challenge of orthodoxies, right the way we’ve always done things. 

Anytime you hear that, well, that’s how we always done it. That’s what our customers want. Whenever I work with a client or firm that’s in that situation, and they’re willing to start entertaining some other ideas. And they tell me something like, that’s the way it’s always been. I said, once the last time we checked into that? When you know, do we do we know that’s true? I mean, frankly, if you’re selling to like large corporations today, like let’s say you’re a manufacturer, and you sell to like you’re part of like the aerospace ecosystem in Connecticut. Well, chances are, that person you used to deal with 20 years ago is retired. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jose: And it’s been replaced by a millennial who doesn’t think the way that you know, good old Joe used to think. it’s very different. So adaptations, have you really, and then even asking yourself, like, you know, I wonder if the stuff we do, can we do it any better? Well, you know, we’re small company, we’re limited, we can’t do this. We can’t do that. I say, okay, well, can you do? And it’s amazing. Once you start asking the question, what can we do what’s in your power? Firstly, it’s a very empowering question to go through as a team. And secondly, it allows you freedom to think about things that aren’t necessarily and then we buy another big machine, because maybe that’s not on the budget this year. 

Nancy: Right.

Jose: But you could certainly do things like continuous improvement, you can you know, you can look at lean, you can improve your quality, you can improve your customer service policies, you can think about, you know, what are people calling us for all the time and like, do an inventory internally and find that, gee, it seems like everybody really wants that replacement spare part right away when they need it. What if we made it a spare parts subscription program? So we’re gonna say, we know, every three months, they’re going to need that were part, why wait for them to call us. It’s urgent, it has to be FedEx across the country. 

And now everybody’s heightened and upset, as opposed to say, Listen, you can save 20%, if you lock in this quarter, for the next two years, every three months, you’re going to get this ware part. Wow, totally changes the game. Increases recurring revenue, reduces the chance that they’ll call, they’ll call, you know, the local supply house to get that part, they’d rather get it from you, if you made the original machine. That’s the kind of thinking that doesn’t cost a lot of money. But you do need to be willing to say, okay, let’s let go of whatever we’re doing, and let’s start thinking about what else is possible.

Nancy: Alright, so you call yourself a strategy wonk. Why is that?

Jose: Oh, boy. Know, it’s interesting. It’s a great question. You know, it’s probably all throughout my, my career when I started out both in operations and in software development, and then eventually moved into sales roles, and then sales and marketing roles, and so on. I’ve always looked at it as an expression that it doesn’t get used as often anymore, but earlier on in my career was pretty common, like cracking the code. Right? Like thinking about is this something that if you’d learn that, if you could observe it, if you could reproduce it, you would actually get more consistent results over time? 

And so you’d always look to see who’s cracked the code? Is it something unique and how they approached it? Is it is that where in the lifecycle of a sales opportunity, do you introduce the idea of a demo, for example, depending on what you sell, whether it’s software services, or something, you know, just thinking about the processes that go into it. And when you know, if you took a clean sheet of paper and talked about my sales process, and if you saw anything that’s a capital good or large of professional service, you know, anything that runs into 10s of 1000s, or hundreds of 1000s of dollars, there’s actually a real process there that goes beyond I show up, I give you the contract, you sign it, and we collect checks, it’s not that easy.

Nancy: Really, I mean, come on.

Jose: It would be wonderful if it were. But in most cases, for you know, what we call a considered purchase, it’s going to require a lot of moving parts and a lot of different people. So thinking strategically, is really saying, I’m looking for patterns. Because I want leverage. If I find the patterns, I can reproduce them. That doesn’t mean every customer is the same every situation that they have, of course not. But I give you kind of pattern thinking. And you start realizing that everything is really connected. And I started realizing when I even 15 years ago when we started Value Prop and what really the birth of revenue throughput was working with a colleague and mentor of mine, Doug Chrisman. 

And we developed revenue throughput as an idea together because we started realizing that it wasn’t just a sales problem. It wasn’t just a marketing problem. It was sometimes a production problem. Sometimes it was a customer service problem. Sometimes it was a working capital issue that limited what a customer or what a company could do. And it was a system. So I’m a strategy wonk because the reality is businesses are systems. And it appeals to me just the way my mind is wired, I tend to look at all those parts. At the same time. I’m not saying it’s like a beautiful mind or anything like that. It’s just it just, but I really enjoy seeing the bigger picture taking a step back, right, and then you start seeing movements, he saw those things really flow together. 

That’s why that’s not working. I mean, you think you have a good sales team. And maybe they are. But the reason it good is your lead gen is so poor, they don’t have many, many proposals to work on. So they do a really good job on the few you give them. But if you amped up your lead generation, you’d find out that these guys or gals aren’t doing such a great job after all. That’s the kind of perspective I like to I like to engage in. And I’d like to share.

Nancy: So what I’m hearing, is everybody listening out there, we all need a strategy wonk. Wouldn’t that be great? You know, you just started talking about revenue, revenue throughput, I really want you to share your unique idea that is different and sets you apart, you might have, you know, touched on some of it. But are there any other points you want to bring out?

Jose: Yeah, no, thank you. That’s that’s something is, again, a favorite topic, because I think it really solves the problem for a lot of not tiny companies necessarily, but smaller companies, again, owner LED, not major corporations and a reason not so much for major corporations, although the principles would work for them as well. But in really big companies, you have a lot of fiefdoms. So you have the you know, the CMO or VP of Marketing does not want the VP of sales, telling them what’s wrong with their marketing, all the way through the chain. So, so you can’t get them all in the room really to talk together holistically. But in a company, let’s say below 50 million in revenue, where you generally are in the same location, the owners, the boss, and you can get the leadership team together. 

This really has resonance. And what it does, it’s and we you know, the formal thought is the volume of velocity with which your business converts operation to revenue. So if you’re in b2b, you have to convert opportunities. So you need to get opportunities at the front end the top of the funnel, so to speak, but you convert them. And if it’s a considered purchase, that’s a multi step process. People don’t just call up by and large, don’t just call up. You know, American Airlines doesn’t just call up a Rolls Royce to order engines on a whim, right? Because these are like, these are big purchases. And if you make a part for the engine, they still they they’re going to make you go through paces for that. 

So revenue throughput is, is visualizing your business. And we’d like to use this one visual, it’s not the only visual, but it’s a good one, in visualize your business as a pipe, opportunities come in one side of the pipe and come out the other as revenue. Simple enough, except there are eight valves on this pipe. And those valves could be open, in which case those opportunities flow freely, or the valve could be shut pretty tightly, in which case it stops. So let’s take the targeting or your target market is very fuzzy, you’re not sure who you really sell to well, whoever begins is, whoever has a PO to give us as our target market. That’s not really good target definition. For example, we would say that valve is pretty tight, it’s going to limit how many opportunities you really get. 

Let’s say your differentiation a second major valve. You’re not sure why you’re different. Essentially, your value proposition isn’t sharp. You’re not sure why people should buy from you other than you’d like him to buy from you. Which by the way, is not a buyer motivator, t’s a seller motivator. So that Valve would be shut tight. So you have to look at then marketing and all the things that go with marketing sales, but we also look at things like risk and leadership. Sometimes, it’s not that you don’t have good people, but you may not have enough of them. Or you may not have them in the right positions, or resources, which is of course the whole world of owner led businesses of working capital. 

It’s like do you have the you can have this grand strategy that we’re going to be in this is like a post pre and post COVID comment. Our grand strategy is we’re going to be at every industry tradeshow around the world to sell our machine. Well, you know, the average tradeshow for like, anytime type of industrial category is going to be $50,000 a pop. So if you have to do four of them, do you have a quarter million dollars lying around? A lot of companies like this don’t. So you have to look at all of that. And so we really say you have to look at a balanced view of that pipe and assess whether the valves are open or close. 

And if they’re closed, how do you open them? And that’s, you know, you get into the nitty gritties there, how you open those things. But looking at it that way you can actually optimize your business and sometimes it’s one valve, like all of them are open, but one is close tight? Well, if you think about flow through a pipe, if you even have one valve close, tight, doesn’t matter, the other ones are wide open, you’re going to get a drip. But when you fix that one valve, boom, now opportunities are flowing through the system.

Nancy: How long does a process like this take? How long? When you go into a company, typically how long does it take until it gets fixed?

Jose: You know, it’s interesting. That’s a Nancy, that’s a little bit like how long is a piece of string, but I will tell you from experience, you know it, you get results. First of all, two things happen if you really have an engaged leadership, and it has to be the owner, if it’s an owner of that business, the owner has to be involved. If the owner says this is my leadership team, they’re going to go through the process, Jose, I’m not interested. Because at the end of the day, the number one kind of control of whether a business succeeds or fails in an owner led business is going to be the owner. Owner behaviors 90% of it. 

So if the owner’s in the room really interested and really engaged, what will happen is within within probably a week or two of going through this process, they will have a really crisp understanding of where the bottlenecks are. What valves are closed, because we go into in quite a bit of discrete detail. Each Valve has like six dimensions. And we help you measure that we walk you through it, we walk your leadership team through it. It’s not a lot a lot, it’s probably like two two hour sessions. We go through it, we have software that supports this and gives you a score and all that good stuff. 

But the main thing is you have that crisp idea. So you know, knowledge is power, right? So knowing knowing where the blockages are, it’s kind of like if you had all of a sudden, let’s take the opposite situation you had your basement was flooding, you’d want to know where it’s coming from. That’s the first thought. So first thing is know that. The second thing is we say you cannot fix everything all at once. So you may have out of 48 total dimensions, eight major vowel six dimensions, each 48 dimensions, you may have 12, red areas, what we call constraints. Those 12 constraints is oh my goodness, my hair’s on fire, what am I going to do? We say, okay, stop, we find the critical path, because we have an algorithm that tells you of those 12, which ones that are most important ones to fix. 

And we advise you to work on maybe two. That’s it. Two. You can’t do 12, you’re going to do 12 half baked, you wouldn’t want to do that. Two, and that will probably take you about another 30 to 60 days to address those two, and therefore within 90 days from hello to there, you will start seeing things turn around. And then you can get into rinse repeat process, because you may have another different line of business. So for example, you make a machine, but you also have a machine shop, that’s not a typical for smaller manufacturers. Well, the machine you sell is to one audience, your machine shop services could be to a completely different audience. we’ve measured those separately. 

I mean, they obviously overlapping that they use the same physical infrastructure, same capitals, same leadership, but the buyer’s buying for different reasons. So that’s what we help you focus on. So you learn this as a skill, no different than companies learn how to do lean or continuous improvement in their manufacturing. This becomes that kind of a platform for you to think about revenue, but in the holistic sense of your whole business.

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

Jose: That’s a great question. You know, I think probably, it’s, it’s, I don’t know if almost nobody would agree with me. But I do get pushback on this. And it’s this idea of in sales. And I believe this is true. In b2b, nobody’s really sold anything. I think in b2c, you can find somebody you can sell on emotion, I mean, you can sell timeshares that way, right? You could sell a, you know, a dress or a pair of shoes or a watch or something people can buy on an impulse that a good salesperson can persuade somebody in that moment. 

But in b2b, if it’s a considered purchase, there’s too many eyes on something too many people get involved, you’re not going to sell anything, the best you can do is help them on their buying journey. So I would say a lot of people would disagree with me, especially sales, people who get involved in sales and saw that no, you can teach you can sell you know, you can learn to sell. And you know, at the end of the day, you really at the highest level if you’re selling big capital things, right, you really are there to help buyers buy. And it’s a it’s a it’s an inverted you know, paradigm but I think it’s really true and I have not seen it not be true. You’re just not going to browbeat or finagle or fast talk somebody into a $200,000 machine.

Nancy: Right? But you talking about high ticket items. What about smaller items? Is that the same? In your opinion, when you say nobody has really sold anything? I think, isn’t it the the goal of any sales person to engage in a conversation about what they need? Right? So they’re talking about it? Right.

Jose: Right. But they’re engaged. And that’s a great way to frame it. Nancy, they’re engaged in a conversation. Ideally, they’re engaged in a conversation with somebody who’s actually looking for somebody to solve their problem. 

Nancy: Yes. 

Jose: So it depends on how we define selling, and often, you know, people who don’t do this for a living, sometimes think of sales as like convincing somebody, or worse manipulating somebody to do something they otherwise would not want to do. Right? So I’d say no, that’s that. I mean, I’m not saying there aren’t people that are like can do Jedi mind tricks. And it all of a sudden you say, oh, my goodness, I bought that printer, and I wasn’t planning to that can happen. But by and large, it’s not really a good way to build a real portfolio. I think real success comes from, like you said, having the right kind of conversations, that doesn’t waste anybody’s time. 

That gets to the heart of the matter that reveals to that person, that you have a sincere interest in understanding what their issues are, what their challenges are. And if you can solve it, you want them to understand how you would help them. At that point, if you can’t help them, then there’s nothing to sell. And if you can, they’re going to feel very affirmed and confident, because you had a conversation that was respectful of them as intelligent, you know, agents have their own destiny, so to speak. 

And I think those things over time you build long term relationships, you build repeat business, and you’re right, it doesn’t always have to be a six figure thing. It could be a, it could be an insurance policy, or you know, it could be something smaller. But the same principle is like, you’re thinking about this, you’re looking for something. And I’m gonna ask you smart questions. And that’s really what more than anything, what reveals your competence? I believe in a selling situation is not how much you can tell somebody about your stuff. It’s your questions. People know.

Nancy: The quality of the the questions earn trust.

Jose: All right, that’s perfect.

Nancy: I cannot believe it. We’re at the end of our program. And I could go on and on with you. You let me just wrap it up with the another question or two, what is the one takeaway you’d like to leave the audience with?

Jose: I would think just look at your business as an interconnected system. When we look at a person, we don’t see an arm or leg or face, you know, we see a person, a complete person, you know. Your business is that. It has all these parts, they all contribute to this mission. And they all serve customers, and they all create value or they don’t, right. And that’s, that’s where you have the bottlenecks. But if you can look at your business as an interconnected system, and really start developing that vision for your business, you will see opportunities to create more value for customers to reduce costs, which might be unnecessary, and to optimize your presence in the market, you will be seen as a more valuable player as a result.

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

Jose: Oh, that’s easy. Thank you. That’s just got a valueprop.com. That’s v a l u e p r o p.com. And you’ll learn about us about our system. And if anyone wants to reach out to me, there’s ways on that on that site to make contact with me. I’d be happy to just have a conversation with anybody if they think I can help them.

Nancy: Well, you know, I can only say a huge thank you for being on the show. Jose, this was fascinating. Thank you for all those listening in. And remember, reach out to Jose when you’re ready to get things right. And I think at some point for all of us, we know that we’ve got to do something, he’s the go to guy. So thanks again for being on the show. And make it a great sales day everyone.

Jose: My pleasure, 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.

Dave Shaby | Virtual Sales Success Secrets

On this week’s episode we are speaking with Dave Shaby, the Chief Operating Officer at RAIN Group. The global sales training and performance improvement company was founded in 2002 and has become a Top 20 Sales Training Company. To date, they have helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 75 countries. Dave is also a co-author of the best selling book, Virtual Selling, and is an acclaimed adjunct faculty member at both Babson College and Brandeis University where he teaches digital marketing courses for MBA students and the International Business School.

Dave has been researching the new virtual sales reality for his book and working with both buyers and sellers in order to take full advantage of emerging virtual sales technology and best practices. He gives us a deep explanation of where virtual sales is headed and what successful virtual sellers are doing. Our discussion topics include:

  • Where the virtual buyer/seller relationship breaks down
  • How to make a virtual meeting more impactful by doing the advance work
  • Simple ways to build rapport even when you are remote
  • The importance of practice video calls with colleagues
  • And so much more

Virtual sales is not new, but having everyone needing to go fully virtual so quickly last year, and without all of the proper technology in place, made it a daunting proposition for a lot of sellers and buyers. Dave is reframing the new virtual reality for us. If others aren’t going to be as proficient at utilizing new virtual sales tech, take the opportunity to be amazing at it.

Listen now and start today!

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hello everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese. And it is time for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Dave Shaby, the chief operating officer of RAIN Group. Founded in 2002, RAIN Group is a global sales training and performance improvement company that has helped hundreds of 1000s of salespeople, managers and professionals in more than 75 countries. 

As a top 20 sales training company, they are committed to leading their industry in the best intellectual property, best education system and best results. Dave is the author of the best selling book Virtual Selling, How to Build Relationships, Differentiate and Win Sales Remotely. Dave is also an acclaimed, acclaimed adjunct faculty member at both Babson College and Brandeis University, where he develops and delivers digital marketing courses for MBA students, and the International Business School. So virtual is the V word of the year. And I think it’s kind of the way of the world nowadays. I personally believe it’s here for the long term. I am so excited to speak with you, Dave, welcome to the show. 

Dave Shaby: Thank you Nancy, thanks so much for that very nice introduction. It makes me sound more accomplished than I perhaps am. But I’m really happy to be here and happy to talk about what’s on your mind. And what’s on your listeners’ mind.

Nancy: Yeah, so I want to tap into, you know, your book a little bit. But really, why do you think virtual is a scary word for many people in sales and in business these days?

Dave: Yeah, I think is the idea of it is not new. So sellers have been working remotely for a long time using technology. And in many cases, that was exclusive to a number of sellers. I think the idea that everybody was forced into both on the buying side and the selling side, being virtual right away without mastery of the tools, let alone really being able to think critically about the medium, and how to use it best. 

And to take advantage of things that are available to us sort of feels like you know, everyone got forced into a really steep learning curve on both sides of the equation, and it’s uncomfortable. So we’ve been, we’ve been trying to be helpful and to reframe this a little bit and give people some perspective on how they can take advantage, develop new skills, and blend those skills with things that they’ve already mastered and selling in general.

Nancy: Yeah, you know, and I speak with a lot of sales leaders and professionals that, as I’m sure you have, have really had a difficult time transitioning to virtual and they can’t wait to get back out in the field. For me personally, and from our organization, we’ve been virtual forever. And it you know, it baffles me why people have such a hard time adjusting to the concept that hey, now you just have to do it over the phone or over zoom. Do you have any insight on that?

Dave: Yeah, I don’t know that I know the exact answer for everybody. I think the general thought processes, many sales people get energy from social engagement. And, in fact, it’s their superpower, right? They’re really good in person really good in a room, they have a magnetic personality. Rapport building is a strength. And so to have to reinvent that, and in an environment where it’s not easy to feel to a certain degree, like you’ve lost your powers, and you don’t necessarily have a way of getting that back. And so the discomfort, some of it is just mastering the technology for sure. But some of it is I’ve lost the thing that I’m best at and I don’t know how to get it back. And that’s probably the prevailing feeling that we hear.

Nancy: Yeah. Well, I definitely want to congratulate you on your book. It’s great. It’s a best seller. And you know, what research did you uncover when you wrote it?

Dave: Yeah, well, thanks for that. And I should mention that there are co authors Mike Schultz, myself and Andy Springer. So the three of us undertook this project as as things turned in the middle of last year. And we always start any of our works, any of our major works, whether it’s training or publishing, with research and the RAIN Group center for sales research, we tend to focus on the buyer side as a, as a premier part of what we do. Because there’s lots of sales research that asks sellers, how they feel about their own skills and kind of self evaluation research. 

But ours started with, with buyers, and what we tried to figure out is, from a buyer perspective, as well as sellers, we asked both and we we interviewed over 500. So we cut across different industries, in different geographies and so forth. buyers and sellers, their answers didn’t match. So that was one of the things that we noticed in the research. So things that sellers felt like they were doing okay with and virtual. We’re not necessarily agreeing. So for example, I’m developing an ROI case, had the biggest gap in terms of both important to buyers to understand ROI, not necessarily seeing the value coming from the sellers. 

But sellers didn’t actually agree with that. And as sellers, we know that it really doesn’t matter what we think it matters what the buyer thinks at the end of the day. So there was a pretty big gap there. And other things around relationships in general, developing rapport, asking great questions, having those conversations that you talked about, you know, our research warrant for that out as being extremely important to buyers, and also underwhelming in terms of how it was feeling. 

And then lastly, the impact that sellers have, when it comes to presenting visuals, being able to use graphics. Knowing the technology and having the facility to do a good job running a meeting. Collaborating and doing more advanced work is not possible, if you don’t know how to use the medium well. And so buyers, you know, at least through our research are fairly underwhelmed with what sellers are coming with. So that’s what inspired us to write the book in the way that we did. Much more research, but those are some of the highlights. 

Nancy: You know, you gotta use when you stated that, that there was a learning curve, I guess as it relates to the technology, right, really having to take a deeper dive into maybe advanced methodology to better communicate what your offer is. I frankly didn’t even think of that. So I can understand why it’s been a challenge more clearly now. We spoke a few minutes before our conversation, and we talked about how sales are won, and lost based on conversations sellers have with buyers. Now that said, let’s talk about the importance of asking open ended questions. Is there a strategy you recommend? And and is it different doing it virtually? 

Dave: Yeah, I think there’s some differences. Let me start with the second question. So differences virtually in terms of how to do discovery work and how to ask questions. There’s some differences in that, in that medium in a virtual medium, you have the ability to do some Q&A in advance. So you don’t have to spend your entire first discussion going through gathering data, for example, which can kind of drag the meeting down. And so there’s a lot of ways that you can reach out to the buyer in advance to say, hey, one of the things that I wanted to talk about was x. And if you have anything you would like to share in advance, or someone in the organization that I can email, maybe I can collect some of that data, and I can throw it up on the screen. 

And then we can categorically talk about it. And it’s like you’re creating a whiteboarding session, by getting out in front of some of the questions that are going to be more more significant when it comes to the specifics. Things are more around. How do you think things would change if you were able to affect x or y or z, right? Those how to, again, pre planning that in a virtual medium, those open ended questions and thinking categorically about how I can lay out a whiteboarding session just to get the questions out there and say, hey, I did some research on you guys. 

And these are some of the categories that I think are important. I would like to get some commentary about a, b, and c. First of all, did I get those right? Did I do good research? Can you help me out here? Right. So you use the medium as as kind of a visual guide to making the questions and the actual act of of discussion more interesting. And it’s not to say you can’t whiteboard in a live session, by the way, but it’s in a virtual it can get really, really dragged down if you’re doing a Q&A without any other enhancement.

Nancy: Interesting, I find, by selling virtually, I have the opportunity, you know, in a first time conversation is typically a phone conversation. So I have the opportunity to have a lot of cheat sheets up, they don’t see it. But that helps me stay on track versus, you know, face to face, a lot of it is got to be ingrained in your head. But I would think in to your comment about doing research and advance are asking questions, you could still do that prior to a face to face, couldn’t you?

Dave: Oh, you absolutely could. But I think the difference too, is that in a face to face meeting, if you pulled out your discovery cheat sheet, when I started writing down and asking questions, it would be a flat, right, that would not be the right look, and you know, your seller would not be impressed with the fact that you had a sheet. If you did the same thing in a virtual meeting, and you had a pre planned whiteboard, or even a discovery planner, and you put it up on the screen, you certainly would look different, it would enhance the meaning versus detract from it. 

So that’s one small difference. But you’re right, you can do all that advanced work. I think what you’re your end game, and doing the advanced work with a virtual meeting is to make sure that the questions that you’re doing live are the most valuable, most open ended most revealing questions versus, Hey, can we spend 10 minutes talking about some data, which again, can be very exciting for some folks, but not every meeting is going to be enhanced by that that part of the conversation. So not that different than a live meeting for sure. But I do think that it is particularly helpful for virtual.

Nancy: You know, I know your that your company is proud to commit to the best intellectual property, best education system and best results. How do you go about developing this for your customers?

Dave: Yeah, it’s a big question, How much time do you have? So, I think the main thing is, we start with the result in mind. And so when we talk to our potential clients, and then eventually our clients, that’s always what we’re driving for is how are we going to collaborate to create something that will help you gain a particular result. And let’s talk about the results that you might be able to envision gaining in the first place. We really talk clearly about that measurement and what’s possible and really sort of opening doors with that. But when it comes to developing the IP, and the programming around that, we’ve got a group that starts with research, we talk to some of the best minds in business, we get their feelings around the things that are working and not working. 

And we’re constantly evolving the IP so that the things that we’re bringing to sellers are not just the right knowledge, but also the best way to practice it, and put it into into implementation. So a lot of our work that we do live with our clients is done in, in a setting that enables them to exercise, practice and work it out in preparation for those real conversations they’re going to have.

Nancy: Is there a story you’d like to share with the listeners that you think they would find interesting?

Dave: Yeah, you know, I think a lot about rapport building and the kinds of things that are possible in a virtual setting that are not possible, perhaps in a live setting. And I know many sellers have been virtual for a while, but I don’t know I have a particular thing about where people are, and what what that means and things about their their area, and the things you can see in their background, just learning about people. And this is really tactical stuff, but it’s meaningful to me. 

And so it’s just been an interesting year, even internally, we have offices all over the world. So I have this great opportunity to talk to people around the globe at any time of the day with a different background, a different setting a different situation. And I can tell you, they’ve just led to the most amazing conversations, I get to see the, you know, the Harbor in Sydney sometimes I’ve had people on the phone who’ve been able to show me, you know, the lake that they’re sitting on, or even just a story about a picture in the background. 

So my story is just more about how cool it’s been to use virtual in a way to kind of get to know people in ways that perhaps I wouldn’t have, because I’m taking care to notice. And, you know, I think that’s a selling skill as well. And hopefully people are good at that because rapport matters.

Nancy: Oh my god. Yeah. And how about dogs in the room or a cat walking on the screen. We’ve all seen that right? It’s humanized us, really, you know, as people, we’re bringing more of our people side into the business world because of the circumstances, wouldn’t you agree?

Dave: Oh, for sure. I think it’s a good thing. Right? Sometimes people are a little I see that they’re a little bit timid about, oh, you know, it’s not perfect. And of course, we want people to have professional backgrounds and lighting and setups and all of that. We talked about that in the book endlessly. But you know, the idea that something happens, and you’re human, and there’s a noise or whatever, and you sort of deal with it, we’re all trying to, to, you know, make this medium work for us. I think it’s good. I think we’ve learned a little bit about each other. And it’s, it’s helpful.

Nancy: Yeah, I personally love it. What would you like to spotlight?

Dave: I mean, I think it sort of dovetails off of what I was just saying, which is, you know, we’ve talked to a lot of people who see virtual selling as a challenge and selling in general as a challenge. But virtual selling is being another layer of that. And I think the reframing of it, and the ability to think about ways that you could be advantaged if you master this, and where you’re going to take your, your practice as a sales professional, and just see it as being opportunistic. 

So if others aren’t going to be great at whiteboarding sessions and collaboration and use in doing demos online in ways that have never been thought of before, you know, take full advantage of that don’t stop at good enough. And master the medium. Become amazing at it. And I think, you know, that’s the, that’s the point we’re trying to make with the book is that this is not to try to get back to live selling levels, this is taking something new and advancing it. So I try to help people think about it.

Nancy: Well, I like the thinking part of it, for sure. You know, I always ask my people on the program, bring up something that almost nobody agrees with you on. Share that concept and explain why.

Dave: Yeah, I know, I it’s hard to say whether nobody or a few people agree. But the idea that feedback is a gift. And what I mean by that is in the context of what we’re trying to accomplish as sellers and virtual sellers. You know, I think if you were to say to sellers, get on, get on a zoom call, or whatever medium you use whatever platform you use, and do three minutes with a colleague, and just beat each other up a little bit, and give each other real good feedback around how that looks and feels and sounds, you know, it’s hard for people to do that. 

And you have to be super honest about it and provide that value for each other. And I think, you know, understanding that the doing that is really helpful in it. That’s not just a virtual selling thing, obviously. But you know, if you have a co worker or someone you’re managing, and they don’t look quite right or sound quite right, or they’re not doing it the way that it should be done. Let’s not apologize for the fact that we’re going to give them that feedback. It’s worth it.

Nancy: I agree. And you know, I go back to everybody’s responsible for their own success. And hopefully they surround themselves with leaders or in colleagues that will help them attain that and improve on it. Right. So I agree, I think feedback is important. Certainly, it’s how you deliver it. You know, that oftentimes could be tricky. But yeah, I’m a big believer on that, too. You know, we’re kind of coming to the end of our program. And I’d like you to share one takeaway, one point that you really want the listeners to leave with?

Dave: Yeah, I think the main thing here is that what matters is what the buyers think. So we’re here for our clients, and buyer is going to have a certain impression and certain point of view, and we can we can do better for the buyer. You know, the everyone’s had this imposition, and things have changed. And now as things start to return back to normal, or normal ish, or different, or whatever it is, this is here to stay. This opportunity is here. 

And our buyers need us to be our best. And so on behalf of them, let’s listen to what they need. And, you know, to the extent that they’re not having great experiences, because we’re having technical problems, or we haven’t mastered certain things, we can get beyond that. But talking about collaboration and really high level work using virtual tools, I think is exciting for the buyer. I mean, to me, that’s the reason to show up.

Nancy: Yeah, it’s all about them. Not about us, folks. So I need to know how my audience can reach you and all the good stuff in RAIN group.

Dave: LinkedIn is great for reaching me, Dave Shaby on LinkedIn, there’s, there’s really only one of me at RAIN group. So you can find me easily on LinkedIn. And our website is, if you just Google RAIN group, we were easy to find. And we have tons of stuff that you can pull off the website, start to read, get to know us a little bit and then connect with us if you’d like to learn more. So those are the easy ways to get in touch.

Nancy: Yeah, people, let’s go get in touch. So I want to thank you all for listening and have a fantastic sales day to everyone. Please be sure to reach out to Dave. He’s a wealth of knowledge. Check out RAIN group. They’ve got some wonderful free resources that can help you in your sales as soon as you get off of this podcast, so have a great day and again, Dave, thanks for being on the show.

Dave: My pleasure.

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.

Mary Kelly | Why Your Leadership Pyramid Needs to be Flipped

Our guest on this week’s episode is a PhD economist, certified speaking professional, retired US Navy Commander, internationally known leadership expert, and CEO of Productive Leaders. Mary Kelly has been helping companies and individuals in the fields of productivity, communication, profit growth, and leadership development since 1998. She is the author of 11 books combining the theory and practice of business and has been quoted in hundreds of periodicals like Forbes, Money Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.

Mary works with companies to improve profit during times of crisis, challenge, and change and she joins us to share her deep understanding of economic strategy and lessons for leaders in all sorts of situations. The pandemic has shown a spotlight on the cracks in many businesses; leaders have to be better now. Through the lens of an economist and former naval officer, she sees things differently, including:

  • Why we need to flip the leadership pyramid
  • How to PIVOT into greater success and profit
  • Why veterans make great hires
  • And more

Her style is informative and entertaining, so listen in for the business and leadership advice and stick around for the orphaned kitten story, lessons from our pets, and why the Beatles got it wrong. Don’t miss it!

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese. And it’s time for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today, and it always starts with the human conversation. Joining us today is Mary Kelly, CEO of Productive Leaders. She is a PhD, a certified speaking professional and commander, US Navy retired. 

Mary is an internationally known economist and leadership expert, specializing in the fields of leadership, productivity, communication and business profit growth, and has been doing virtual leadership development and business training since 1998. She has been quoted in hundreds of periodicals such as Forbes, Money Magazine, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal, and more. And she is also the author of 11 books, and I’m sure soon to be more. A former University business and economics professor, Mary combines theory and practicality. Wow, we are in for one fascinating conversation, folks. Welcome to the show, Mary.

Mary Kelly: Nancy, thank you so much for having me with you today, I am excited to share some things with your audience that they can use right away to make their lives a little bit easier, reduce some stress, and help them have better sales.

Nancy: Love it. And you know, before I jump into it, I just want to congratulate you on being awarded one of the top 50 keynote speakers from Top Sales World in 2020. What a great honor. How do you feel?

Mary: Oh, Nancy, this was such an amazing year to be named as one of the top 50. And you know, some of the other people who are in that category, you know, Meredith Elliot Powell and Mark Hunter and Sam Richter, and just amazing people on this list. Colleen Stanley, just amazing people. And then I got to be on it. I was I couldn’t believe it. It was such an honor.

Nancy: Yeah, but I would say why not? Why not Mary Kelly? You guys know what I’m talking about by the end of our program. So let me start by asking how leadership ability has been impacted in the past year with COVID.

Mary: Leaders have to be better. Now. That’s the reality that before this, we had this 10 year period of economic growth, you know, my PhD is in economics. So I look at that. But we had this great 10 year period where it frankly, wasn’t that hard to do pretty well, in business by pretty well, it was okay, it was fine, it was good. And all of a sudden, when COVID hit, leaders had to step it up and be better, because it took it was like a big ol spotlight, putting right on our business. And it showed the cracks in the foundation. 

And if we as leaders didn’t fix those cracks, it threatened to destroy our entire business. So as leaders, we have to step up. And what that means is you have to reassure your people, you have to be a better communicator, you have to have a better strategic plan, you have to be looking at your HR department, like a funnel like you do with your sales funnel for talent. And you got to be looking to what you need to be doing now to respond to the needs of the market now.

Nancy: Yeah, I think it’s so true. I mean, a year ago, almost to the day, the world changed for all of us. And I think, you know, those of us that are still sat standing, yeah, we’re still standing Mary, you know, yeah, we had to make some pretty big changes in how we approach you know, the, the, the job of coaching and managing a team. You know, and I read that you believe that great leadership is an upside down pyramid. Talk to me about what that means.

Mary: It’s an upside down pyramid. And what I mean by that is, many people think that the job at the top is like a triangle, and you get to sit at the top of that triangle. And I would flip that, I would say that the triangle point is actually at the bottom, the bottom of the pyramid, and your job is to support your people so that they can help your other internal customers so that you can help your external customers so that you can be working with your partners, suppliers and customers. Your job is not to sit at the top of the heap and say, Wow, I’m doing such a great job. No, your job is to support every single person in your organization so that they can do an even better job.

Nancy: Yeah. So what are some leadership leadership strategies you would recommend to do that?

Mary: So a couple leadership strategies I like to use right right away. And you know, I love my acronyms. As an economist and a leadership expert, I tried to merge the focus of what most businesses, which is to make profit with their values, what they want to be doing in the community and their alignment. And that can be kind of a tricky thing, especially when people are feeling a sense of scarcity. And during a time of scarcity, leaders have to understand we become very myopic, we become very focused inward, it’s me, my job, my kids, my homeschooling life, my spouse, my partner, my community, very intro, looking very myopic. 

Circle the wagons protect yourself. As leaders, we have to get people out of that mindset. Most of my viewers, when we’re talking back in March, and April, my execs and they’re like, what do we do? I’m like, stop thinking about yourself, stop thinking about your family, they will be fine, you’ve got a good family, focus on how you are going to look externally, for others. You know, focusing on what your kids need, so that they can homeschool. What your customers need, so that they can be more effective. 

Stop looking at yourself, and look outward. Where are their needs in the marketplace, and then take your strategy, and pivot. And I know we’re all sick to death of that word. But I use pivot as an acronym, we’ll get into that. We’ve got to look externally. The first four stages of any crisis challenge or change or how it affects me, me, me, but the last two stages, five and six is all about how we help and serve others. And that has been a huge leadership shift for many people.

Nancy: Yeah, you you combine productivity, and developing leadership skills, and you make them attainable and entertaining. So the one word that jumped out to me was entertaining. Talk to me more about it. How do you how do you make it so so that we know what we have to do, but we enjoy doing it as we’re going along?

Mary: It’s so funny. You know, I taught school, I was a professor for over 30 years. And my students would walk in and my and I would have a different question every day, hey, what’s on your mind? What are you think about? And they would tell me, you know, we’re thinking about, you know, there’s a game this weekend or this, that whatever. And I was teaching economics and leadership. And I would say, so what do you think the leadership challenge is, you know, what do you think if you’re the football coach, you know, what do you think about this week, so the first 20 minutes of class would just be me getting them to talk about what was important to them. And then at the end of class, they’re like, well, that was such a fun class. I’m like, tricked into learning. 

And they’re like, what, and the last one isn’t like, we just covered this concept, and this concept, and this concept, and this concept. And there’re like, hey, you tricked us into learning by making it fun. I think that’s where a lot of training fails. Is we give people just this standard road workbook, things that I was taught, you know, in first grade and Catholic schools, and it was just repetitive and boring. And I think, I think development and training and learning needs to be fun. If we bring the fun back into what it is we get to do, then that translates into our workplace and what it is we get to do? Is that what we have to do for work, it’s what we get to do for work.

Nancy: Yeah, what an awesome idea. And frankly, I’ve never thought of it that way. So what you were saying is you get your people to address what you want them to learn in a conversational way. Is that correct? That they talk about their own personal interests? But that is a correlation to you’ve just learned this, this and this and this? Is that what I’m hearing?

Mary: Yes, it’s exactly your conversational method. It’s hey, you know what’s going on with this? And you know, and and tell me a little bit more about this. And, you know, what are you looking forward to, and just having a conversation with people so that you know, what’s important to them, and then you can serve them better.

Nancy: Awesome. I love it. I love it. Okay, so I ask a series of questions, each and every program that are pretty standard. And I want to start with our first one. What is your unique idea that sets you apart?

Mary: I am an economic leadership expert. Ideal in improving profit growth, particularly doing during times of crisis, challenge or change. That’s what I get to do. The military certainly trained me very well for crisis situations. Gulf War I, II, 911, all of that. And as an economist, I see things very differently than most leaders. And I am able to look at a situation and make recommendations that are based on improving profit growth that also align with your values and your and your core. And that’s where I think many people struggle either they are good at defining values, or they’re good at defining the profit growth, but not necessarily together. And I think that’s what makes me a little bit different.

Nancy: Yeah. But, uh, you’ve also talked to me about creating your own brain shortcuts.

Mary: Yes. Yes, your brain, everybody’s brain is different. I’m fascinated by neuroscience, I’m fascinated with how our brains make connections. And I, as you know, I use acronyms. I use acronyms all the time, like pivot and lost and chaff. Pivot is, during a time of crisis. I use this all the time, I see you have to as a leader, I want you to think about pivot. And to me, that is redefining your purpose, helping people see their purpose in the work they do. Part of that is the I bringing in the inspiration and your positive influence, so that they are motivated every single day to be engaged. 

To not waste time, you know, the average person at work wastes about 90 minutes a day. And that costs us just, and that’s just wage earners that cost almost $6,000 a year per employer. That’s just crazy. If we have our people engaged, they will do better. The V in pivot is assessing the volatility. And I try not to ask the basic questions. Hey, how you doing? Because everybody goes fine, good. Great. I asked a different question. I say, say, on a scale of one to 10, with one being absolutely terrible and 10 being fantastic. How are you doing with everything going on around you? Or how are your people doing on a scale of one to 10. And now my reaction is a leader is adjusted based on their response. Well, it’s a two. Things have been really bad. I’ve got people out sick, I’ve got the situation going on, you know, whatever. Or, you know what, we’re doing fine. 

Everything everybody has shown up, people are giving me 100%, I could not be more pleased. As a leader that tells me how to respond. Instead of just good, great, fine. We also as leaders have to define the O, the opportunity in the pivot word is what I use. And that is looking around and making sure that we are seeing the possible instead of the impossible. Many people during a difficult time, they go back into what they can’t do. I can’t do this, because I can’t do this because. Okay, well, what can you do? Where are the opportunities? Where can where do we need to be better in our industry, our business, and in our community? 

And then the T, of course, is tools, training and technology. What do you need in order to go forward? So it’s very short, but pivot, is purpose, influence, volatility assessment, and then find the opportunities and then provide those resources people need tools, technology training, in order to move forward. And all of a sudden, you’ve got that in your head, you go, I don’t need to reinvigorate my people with their purpose. I can be a positive influence. And it just goes from there.

Nancy: Wow. I hope everybody wrote that down. I know I took notes. I think that is inspirational. Talk to me about a story, share a story that you know, our listeners want to hear.

Mary: I okay, I love that. You asked that question that makes me laugh. Because, you know, many people think the military is just full of non emotional people just going through the motions every single day. We’re kind of like, you know, automatons or robots or something. So one funny thing, I was the chief of police. That’s one of the fun things that people think is sometimes interesting. And I was the chief of police. This was after I had before and after I had done some counterterrorism work. And as you know, Nancy, I am a big animal lover. And people are thinking, where’s the story going? 

So one morning, I’m getting ready for my nine o’clock meeting with all the grown ups. I called them the grown ups. They’re the really senior people on my military base. And I was in my camouflage outfit. So you know, the camouflage pants, camouflage hat, camouflage, you know, the shirt, we call it a blouse. And one of my people comes in about seven o’clock in the morning and says, Commander Kelly, we found a litter of kittens. And the mama kitten has been run over by a car and these kittens are just days old. What do we do with the litter of kittens? And I was like, where are the kittens now? I’m the Chief of Police. 

And they’re like, we’ve gotten in this box. I was like, okay, bring them in my office. So I look at these five little kittens who are sitting in my office, meow, meow. And you know, I mean, their kittens are used to being around mom. So I tuck them in my camouflage shirt pockets, and so on. They’re tiny. They’re tiny, wee little kittens. I mean, not even the size of a credit card. And so I tucked them in my pockets, why stuff to go to the morning meeting? So I’m going to a meeting and I’m thinking about, okay, how am I going to get milk to these kittens? And you know, if I take them to the humane society will there survive? You know, meanwhile, we’re doing this big strategy for this military exercise. 

And as I’m sitting in the morning meeting, and the kittens were quiet, because they’re next to me, and they’re warm, all of a sudden, one of the kittens meow and look around, and the guy next to me is like, what is that? And so I bumped him and I open my little pocket in my side pocket of my shirt, my blouse over the shirt, and he sees these kittens and he rolls his eyes. So every time the kittens would meow, like four of us now and we’re all trying to cover the fact that there’s these nice little kittens in my camouflage. 

Nancy: Wow. 

Mary: And so happy ending. I found somebody with a mama cat who had just had a litter have her own. And she took on these babies. And it took me about a half a day to figure this out. But sometimes that’s, that’s, I think, that’s our core values getting aligned with what we’re supposed to. We’re supposed to be the good guys, you know. And that was things that my boss really hammered into my head when I was a chief of police. He said, you know, when you you and your people show up, and you’re the police, I want people to think the good guys are here. They’re going to help me. And that was really great lesson.

Nancy: So the moral of the story is you can make it happen under any circumstances, right?

Mary: The moral of the story is, you know, our job is to help people and sometimes it extends to, you know, kittens.

Nancy: Yeah. Okay. When would you like me to spotlight on your behalf?

Mary: You know, one of the things that, you know, I am close to are the fact that many people don’t know how to hire our military veterans. And just so you know, my older brother spent over 25 years in the Marine Corps, he flew helicopters. His wife was Navy, as you know, my husband’s a marine. My younger sister was an Air Force officer, she married a Navy officer, my younger brother was a Navy pilot, as well. We, as a family of veterans, my parents were not military. But as a family of veterans, we have all experienced the fact that some people have a very interesting view of what veterans are like. 

And I think certainly Hollywood has not done us a whole lot of favors. Either we are all Rambo with a chip on our shoulder and a cause or we’re maybe you know, homeless living under a bridge or whatever. And I think for some people, they are afraid to hire veterans, they don’t know, what they bring to the table, and how military experience can translate into a terrific business hire. It’s what I try to talk to people about is I said, So? Does everybody in your organization? Do you wish people in your organization just had more of a sense of your common vision? Oh, yeah, I really do. Do you wish anybody in your organization ever had that sense of urgency that you have in fulfilling the mission guy, wish everybody had a better sense of urgency? Do you ever wish more people on your team are really good at achieving goals? 

They go, yeah, everybody needs me more achieving goals. I’m like, you know what, you might consider hiring military veterans. Because that’s what we do. We understand your vision, we understand the mission, we understand the goals, and we don’t stop working just because it’s five o’clock. When you’re on a navy ship in the middle of the ocean surprise, it doesn’t just stop because it’s five o’clock on Friday afternoon and is happy our time. This year, we’re used to working 24-7. We’re used to taking problems home with us. 

We are used to thinking about work when we’re not working. And that’s something that you can’t, you can’t really translate so well in in a resume. But when you hire the right person, and they think like the owner of the company, because they have taken ownership. That’s kind of what you want. So I just like to encourage people to think about hiring veterans.

Nancy: Yeah, I’m pro that. And I have been for a very long time. So moving on, talk about something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Mary: Well, the Beatles were wrong. It’s not all about love, love, love. Economics is what rules the world. And thank you for laughing and understanding what I what my reference was.

Nancy: I’m laughing because I’m a diehard Beatles fan, so you really got to me there.

Mary: Love. Yeah, yeah. All you need is love. Actually, you need economics. I would like to think that all you need is love. But that’s just not true. Economics rules the world. And when you look at why most wars are started, because people jumped into somebody else’s territory. Because somebody stole something from somebody else. And they want those economic resources back. Wars are almost never started because of some vague idea. It’s generally because of an economic factor. 

And I’m not, you know, a lot of people think that we got into the Gulf War because of oil. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was, people were killing other people and taking their land. And that’s what this really has to do with, I think economics rules the world. Most people don’t understand economics. They don’t understand fiscal policy that’s taxing and spending done by your elected officials. And they don’t understand monetary policy, which is the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve Chair is chairman Powell right now. And they deal with the money supply of the United States. 

A lot of your problems is that they when they became the EU, they joined forces on monetary policy, which means that they give up their control over money supply and interest rates, and the required reserve ratio, the amount of money banks have on cash that they need, because it’s required. And that is a huge part of autonomy. And so a couple bad decisions or a couple countries that are really suffering can bring everybody down. So I think economics rules the world and people don’t like to hear that they would much rather go back to the Beatles song.

Nancy: Yeah, well, hey, we’ll have a sidebar conversation. After like, all you said is is is good. And we have to kind of wrap up the show now. But what is the one takeaway you’d like to leave the audience with?

Mary: If you are an owner of a dog or a cat and part of the 100 billion dollar pet business in this country, good for you. Now, wouldn’t it be great if we treated more people the way we treat our very spoiled and rightly so, pets? Wouldn’t it be great if every time somebody did something, right, we rewarded them with something nice. Like every time my dog does something great. I’m like, what a good puppy you are, you’re such a good girl, you’re such a good girl, here’s a little treat. Wouldn’t it be great if we were kinder to people in the same way that most people are kinder to their dogs and cats? That’s kind of the thing I’d like to leave the audience with today. And also, I have a new book out, so there’s that.

Nancy: What is that?

Mary: The new book is called The Five Minute Leadership Guide. And it is specifically targeted toward people who are trying to accomplish more every day, help their leadership, their personal leadership, develop and strengthen their reactions to difficult situations in just two to three minutes a day. It’s called The Five Minute Leadership Guide.

Nancy: Okay, and you know, what? How can my audience find you?

Mary: I would love it if they would, I’m at productiveleaders.com. productiveleaders.com because who wants an unproductive leader. And if they want to contact me directly, I answer my own emails, it’s Mary@productiveleaders.com. And if they go to productive leaders.com/free, they’re going to find all kinds of amazing five minute templates and tools and the 12 month planning calendar. All kinds of really cool things that they can use to propel their business and their sales forward even better.

Nancy: You know, folks, listen to the energy. Mary is full of ideas and resources. I want to thank you, Mary, for all your great tips. And thank you all for listening in. Have a fantastic sales day everyone and remember, reach out and follow Mary because there’s going to be more leadership tips and more books coming soon. So you all have a great day and we’ll 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.

Liz Heiman | Create a Sales Operating System for Success

On the show this week we talk with the CEO and Chief Sales Strategist for Regarding Sales, Liz Heiman. Liz helps B2B companies grow by developing strategies and processes that connect a company’s vision to sales success. She is also a panelist on the Sales Expert Channel and an active member of both the Women Sales Pros and the Sales Enablement Society.

Sales isn’t magic, it can be predictable and manageable. For those dealing with the problem of too many ups and downs in sales, there is a solution and Liz has it! The sales operating systems that she builds for her client’s companies, work to clarify sales messaging from leadership, prioritize targets, and identify value propositions and market positions. In our conversation she covers the key considerations when building a system for the first time, including:

  • How long it takes to build out a sales operating system
  • Who needs to be involved in order for it to be successful
  • How often to revisit and revise the system
  • And more

Oftentimes companies don’t begin to think about their sales strategies and systems until their sales team has grown to 20 or 50 people. By then, inefficiencies have crept in. It’s necessary to have a sales operating system in place from the beginning, even if you are simply an entrepreneur who sells. Have a system and make it accountable. Listen now!

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, everyone is 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 the fabulous Liz Heiman. CEO and Chief Sales Strategist of Regarding Sales. She helps b2b companies grow rapidly by developing strategies and processes that drive revenue and create a roadmap for sale success. 

As she states, sales isn’t magic. And we can have manageable, predictable sales. Liz is an active member of the women sales pros, the sales enablement society and a panelist on the sales experts channel. Now for those listeners who experienced too many ups and downs in sales, this is going to be a great show. There is a solution out there. And I know I am but looking so forward to hearing some of the tips Liz will share to help us avoid the swings in sales. Welcome to the show, Liz. 

Liz Heiman: Thank you. I’m so glad to be here. 

Nancy: Well, I think what you offer is such an important component to success in sales. And you know, you write a lot about productivity, and that it’s the act of prioritizing tasks and being efficient at carrying them out. Why is productivity so important in sales?

Liz: Well, I think the first thing is to back up. And around that word productivity, because we can be super productive. We can be doing tons of activities. But if they aren’t getting us to the place we want to go, we’re not really being productive. And so when we’re measuring the number of calls, and the number of face to face meetings, if they’re not the right calls with the right people using the right language, the right messaging, then they’re not getting us where we want to go. So the first thing is, the whole idea of prioritizing is making sure we know before we start, what we’re prioritizing, so we can be productive, and we’re on the right priority.

Nancy: Right. So you mentioned a couple things, you know what my next question was why aren’t sales people productive? You allude to having the right conversations, speaking to the right people. Why is that happening? If the goal is they want to make a sale, right for the right reasons? Why does that continue to happen?

Liz: So I think productivity starts at the top right, if at the very top of the organization. The messaging and the vision and the value proposition and the ideal customer, if it isn’t clear right from the top, then what trickles down to the salespeople is mixed messaging. And when I have a salesperson that has mixed messaging, it’s hard. Again, it’s hard for me to prioritize, it’s hard to know what to put first, hard to know what to pursue, it’s hard to know what to say. So it’s hard to be productive when you have all of these questions and uncertainties. The more certain we are, the easier it is to be productive. And then I think once we know that we can calendar it and really get a plan going around it. But but the lack of a plan, the lack of clarity, I think maybe very unproductive because emotionally it’s draining in addition to being confusing. 

Nancy: Yeah. So what would you say are some qualities of a productive sales person?

Liz: Well, I think, this is going to sound funny, but I think one of the most important qualities of a successful and productive sales person is curiosity. 

Nancy: Okay.

Liz: I know that sounds weird. But if I, if I’m not curious about my customer, right, and I don’t care, then it’s really hard for me to be successful on the phone with them, right? So if I’m curious, and I and I want to help them, then when I pick up the phone, my conversations are always going to be better, they’re going to be more fun they’re going to be they’re going to feel better to me. They’re going to feel better to the customer, they’re going to result in better, more positive activity. So this is a goofy thing to say but, but being curious and caring, is the start productivity because then it’s more fun. If sales isn’t fun, if it’s a drudge and, and unhappiness, then then why would it be productive? Now I’m just cramming things down people’s throats. And how can you be productive when you’re doing that? 

Nancy: Yeah. I want to also tap, and by the way, I agree with the curiosity, you know, I don’t think you can be successful in sales without that curiosity to learn more about them, right? Because it’s about them, not about us. 

Liz: Oh, yeah. And I feel like when I’m in a sales call, I’m always going, wait, can I just ask one more question. You know, we have to be respectful of their time and, you know, of their stories. But we do need to be, we need to ask the questions that help us understand them, not the list of questions someone gave us.

Nancy: So Liz help help me understand again, why is planning so important? I hear productivity, prioritizing, planning, I guess the three P’s right. Tell us why that’s so important.

Liz: Well, the first thing I want to say about planning, though, is that planning has to start at the top. We often think a sales strategy starts with sales, but it doesn’t. Your strategy, your plan, your vision has to start at the top. And and it’s leadership’s job to decide where are we targeting? Who are we targeting? Which of our existing customers do we need to grow? Which are the most important to maintain relationships? 

A lot of that clarity about what we’re selling and who we’re selling to, it has to come from the top. And once that’s decided, now, as a sales leader, I can make a strategy, I can make a plan because I know what we’re trying to achieve. And then as an individual as my responsibility as my goals have been laid out, and it’s clear what we’re doing, I can make an individual plan. But often what happens is leadership says, here’s your number, figure out how to hit it. Well, how do you plan around that? It’s really hard. 

Nancy: It’s surprising to me that that is still prevalent in the sales community. So, you know, let’s let’s segue into what you do and what your unique idea is that really sets you apart. 

Liz: So what I do is I help organizations that want to grow, build a sales operating system. So we often talk about process, and we talk about methodology, but what you really need in order to grow and in order to hire more salespeople, and to scale your sales organization is all of the pieces that help your sales team be successful, and help yourself and your help your sales, leadership and your corporate leadership, understand what’s going on and support the mission. So I, I help them build the pieces. 

And those pieces include things like a strategy, you’ve got to have a positioning framework, a sales positioning framework that outlines your ideal customer, your value proposition, your positioning in the marketplace, your vision for the company, and then you need to have a sales strategy that says, okay, if we know this, if we know all that stuff, now we can build a plan to hit those numbers that that have been laid out, because we have a vision for what we’re doing. And we need a lead generation strategy. We need a sales process that matches the CRM, and we need a management process. 

So everybody knows what’s expected and how to manage. We need a key account planning process. So we’re growing those key accounts. And those are just a few of the pieces. But instead of just haphazardly going about business, and wondering why we’re not achieving our goals, we need to target each part of the process and make sure it’s clear to everyone, how we do it, what the expectations are. And you know, that that we’re going to do that and be successful in it, and then to re evaluate and make sure it’s really working and doesn’t need to be revised. So that’s that’s what I do with companies. 

Nancy: How long does it take, or your has your experience been? Does it take to really get a strategy in place? A sales operating system in place?

Liz: An entire sales operating system can take six months to a year to build depending upon the resources that the company has to allocate. Because you can’t just sit down and pull it out of thin air. Some of it’s going to evolve. Some as we build one part of the strategy and the process is going to change the way we do other parts. So it’s not something you sit down in an afternoon and build. It takes quite a bit of time and resource for a company to do it. But the result the result is clarity, predictability, ability to manage the eliminating the chaos and growth. data can be controlled and planned and organized. So it takes a lot of work, but it’s the value is there. 

Nancy: Yeah, I can only imagine that it takes multiple key players to develop this as well. Wouldn’t you agree? 

Liz: Absolutely. And it’s it. This is what part this is, you know, we always talk about sales and marketing alignment. Bringing marketing into this process helps to align the teams because marketing language and sales language is really different. So we we talk about buyers, but the marketing teams talking about buyer personas, and we’re looking for different things than the sales team is looking for in their conversations. And so we need to get the same language and understand why we use value proposition and how we use value proposition and get everybody on the same page about what we’re talking about. 

So I like to have the CEO involved when I can. If not, we need the sales leader, we need, you know, if there are sales people have been around a long time, they need to help participate. So, you know, you could even have the COO or the CFO, because CFOs are often spending so much time pressuring salespeople instead of understanding how it works, that they become part of the process, and they become part of the success. 

Nancy: Yeah. And once you do have an operating system in place, how often do you recommend to revisit the how it’s working, and if there have to be some changes made? 

Liz: Well, I think your strategy, part of the process of the operating system gets looked at at least every year, unless you feel like something is wrong, and you need to pivot. And I think the same should be true. The leadership should be looking at the entire process at least once a year. But as the sales managers are meeting with sales people and identifying problems, asking what they identify as places where the system has broken down. 

And every time they identify a place where the system has broken down, then the leadership needs to get together. They need to figure out what they think the result, you know, the solution should be. Then leadership needs to be together, fix it, and then train the team and reinforce. I think that reinforce is huge. We can’t just create a system and then expect everybody to follow it. They won’t. You have to reinforce it. You have to build it into the culture. You have to demonstrate it every day. 

Nancy: Yep. A lot of repetition too, I’m sure. 

Liz: Oh, yeah. And clear expectations. Right. If, if everybody understands what’s expected, they can deliver it? 

Nancy: Yep. We call it here of mutual mystification. Meaning, you can’t expect somebody to do something if you haven’t communicated it with them. Right. 

Liz: Right. And what’s really funny, sorry, in that leadership thinks they’ve communicated. So one of the things that I hear all the time when I’m talking to salespeople is, you know, we just wait until the CEO has said it for the sixth time. And then we’re sure he really means it. Or she really means that, and they’re really going to do that. It’s just not an idea that that just came up to the top of their head. And when you talk to the CEO, they’re like, no, we have a really clear mission. And we’re going along the same path. And we’re really consistent. Like, well, if that’s true, you haven’t expressed it clearly to your team. So they don’t understand how what you just said, fits into that vision and mission that you think you so clearly articulated. 

Nancy: Yeah. You know, share a story about your experience, that I know the audience will find interesting. You’ve got such a, an amazing background. 

Liz: Thank you. I think one of the most interesting stories was, we were hired by a CEO to help. They were stagnant. In fact, growth was going backwards and they realized things had changed. Their marketplace had changed. Their product has changed, had changed. And their team wasn’t well positioned to deal with it. Meaning they didn’t have the training, they didn’t have the right processes that thing that what they were doing wasn’t working anymore. So we were brought in by the CEO and handed to the COO who was managing sales to take care of this. 

And as we started working through the process, and we’re talking to the CEO, and we’re saying look at that, you’re you don’t have the right leaders in place to go to the next level. They have to either completely change their thinking and behavior or they’re going to have to go. But they have been there for 20 years, and the company had changed in those 20 years dramatically. And so we we came in we explained how to change the sales operating system, what we’re done all of the different pieces, and we’re developing it, process all of those things, and then it was time to re up the contract. 

And the CEO said, or the COO said, we’re not going to continue. We’re we’re going to, we’re going to stop the contract, we’re not going to continue after this year. And like, okay, I can kind of understand that because you haven’t really been making the progress that you needed to make, and so on like that. Not much fun. But okay. And then the CEO called two weeks later and said, I’m so sorry to do that to you. I can’t pay you guys any more to do this, because my team’s not doing what you’re telling them to do. I hear you telling them, I see what you’re putting in front of us. And it’s not happening. 

So I’m hiring a new CSO. And as soon as he’s in place, I’ll introduce you, which he did. And we started working again. But to change the culture of an organization means leadership has to be willing to make the change. And it’s a top down, it has to be bought into and supported by everybody on the team, they have to be a part of it. But it is a top down decision, and the whole team has to be willing. 

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

Liz: I think that having a sales process and strategy and systems should start the day you start selling. And we often don’t talk about sales ops, until, you know, you’ve got 20 or 30 or 50 sales people. And then we start talking about sales operations, and hiring sales operations and sales enablement people. But before that, it’s sort of this mishmash of, oh, we’ll just try this and do that. But I think that really the day you start selling, you start thinking about how does this work? Do what you know, how am I going to manage my funnel? My leads my pipeline, how am I going to make sure I follow up? 

How am I going to build this process so that when I hire the next person, they’re successful? And and I know what they’re doing and why it works, and why it doesn’t work. And then when I add the next person, we enhance that, that process so that more people can follow it. And then we keep improving and growing the process as we add people before we add the people. And I think that, that that’s not that’s just you know, people think small, you have a smaller organization, you don’t need any, you really don’t need sales process, you just need to sell. Just go sell. And I don’t think that’s true.

Nancy: Yeah, well, you know, I, I’ve been in sales for plenty of years. And if I didn’t have some kind of a process, or system in place, I would be all over the place, not knowing where to go and what to do. So what you’re saying is even an entrepreneur, who sells we should have a process in place, is that right?

Liz: Not just a process, but also an accountability. So who are you accountable to make sure you’re actually doing that? And I’m as guilty of this as anybody else. I have to have someone do a funnel review with me. Or I get lazy, you know. So I have someone do a funnel review with me and make sure that I’m looking at all of my leads, and I have a clear next action and they’ve thought about it. And you know, we all need accountability in our processes. Because if not, we all get sloppy.

Nancy: Yep. Human nature, right? Human nature doesn’t vary too much from person to person. So we’re at the end of our show. And I always like to learn one takeaway. What would you want the audience, my listeners to take away if they couldn’t absorb it all? What would be that one thing?

Liz: I think the one thing is that if you know where you’re going, you can figure out how to get there. So before you start taking actions, make sure you’re really clear about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. What is your goal? What’s the vision? How do these pieces fit together so that I can really make a plan, a map to get from where I am, to where I need to be. Whether it’s at the end of the year at the end of five years, but but to know where I want to go. 

Nancy: Know where we want to go. Well, I think where we want to go right now and most important is how can my audience find you Liz? 

Liz: Well, they can find me at Liz Heiman. H e i m a n on LinkedIn. They can go to my website, which is regardingsales.com. They can even find me on clubhouse, so if they go look for me on clubhouse, now they can find me there. I’m often moderating. 

Nancy: Awesome, okay, well, another great conversation. Thank you so much, Liz for all of your great tips and thank you everyone out there for listening in. Have a fantastic sales day everyone and remember, reach out to Liz. I’m sure her operating system is probably something we could all use either to create or improve upon. Have a great day.

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.