About Mike Montague: Mike Montague is the Director of Community Engagement and a Certified Trainer at Sandler, where he hosts the How to Succeed podcast, Sandler Summit, and other live events. He is also the author of LinkedIn The Sandler Way and numerous courses and content on sales and leadership. In addition, Mike is a podcaster at Playful Humans, a community designed to help the burned-out and bored get re-energized and engaged with life. He is a contributing writer on the Sandler blog and many other international publications, including the Thinking Bigger Business, Hubspot, and LinkedIn sales blogs. Also, he has entertained and educated thousands of audiences as a professional speaker, on-air radio personality for Mix 93.3 and 105.1 JACK FM, and MC for other live events. Mike has also been an opening act for Billy Idol and Frankie Valli as a DJ and was named one of Kansas City’s Rising Stars of Business in 2015. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Mike.
In this episode, Nancy and Mike discuss the following:
- Communication is the key in Sandler.
- OK, Not OK principles in sales.
- Social selling and social media marketing.
- Advantages of back-and-forth conversation over blasting messages on social media.
- Social selling definition and purpose.
- Fewer connections lead to more conversations.
- Playful Humans – a space for happy people.
- Why salespeople should be happy to be productive?
- I fell in love with the communication principles and people deserve respect, and it should be an adult-to-adult conversation, and learning how to be an adult in a conversational selling kind of way with Sandler was really a cool experience for me.
- Social selling is just adding people’s information and opportunities to your pipeline by using any type of sales or social media platform.
- From a marketing perspective the more connections you have on LinkedIn, the better, the wider your reach, but from a sales perspective, it’s actually the deep relationships that matter.
- We forget that happy people do more work.
- The harder you try to sell, the less likely you are to get that.
“So as human beings, we can only keep track of about 150 to 250 relationships at any given time, we just don’t have the bandwidth. And it’s an interesting number. It’s through a lot of scientific research. It goes back to even when humans were in tribes, wandering the planes and stuff. It was like at about 150, you see them start to split off because you just can’t know everybody, and you can’t keep close to relationships with that many people. So, what happens with salespeople is… They start getting weaker relationships. They start chasing weaker deals and they start missing things from their ideal clients because they’re not paying attention to them. ” – MIKE
“It is interesting to me that when you take yourself and your work less seriously, you can become more productive. People equate hard work with success. And I don’t think that’s true. It depends on the work you’re doing. If you’re building a deck or a brick wall – sure. The more work you do, the higher the wall is going to get, but in selling, that’s not true. And selling the harder you try to sell, the less likely you are to get that. ” – MIKE
“Do not be afraid to be yourself. So, whether that’s in sales, in social selling with LinkedIn, or the kind of personal branding and play work that I do with Playful Humans, I think we try to fit in often too. And that makes us boring and the same as everybody else. That is when you embrace your weirdness and your silliness and your personality, and then go find people that want that rather than trying to make yourself into something that other people want. I think that’s a really powerful lesson.” – MIKE
Connect with Mike Montague:
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikedmontague/
- Sandler Training: https://www.sandler.com/
- Playful Humans: https://playfulhumans.com/
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Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese and it’s time again 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 Mike Montague, Director of Community Engagement for Sandler Training, an international sales training and consulting organization headquartered in the United States. He is the co-author of LinkedIn The Sandler Way and a contributing writer on the Sandler blog and many other international publications Mike has entertained and educated over 3,000 audiences live and virtually over his career. He hosts The Sandler Summit, and his popular How to Succeed podcast has over three million downloads. And Mike, I was just saying before we jumped on, I attend all the Sandler summits. You do an amazing job. Welcome to the show. [1:17]
Mike Montague: Oh, thank you so much. Great to be here, Nancy. I’m excited to have a conversation with you. And the summits are definitely one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s like Christmas for me. I get to be on stage in front of a thousand people and do all kinds of crazy shenanigans. If you’ve been to all of them, you’ve seen my time travel and do wigs and costumes. I’ve done magic tricks with Dave, all kinds of stuff on stage there.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, you know, you should have been an actor with all the different things you do. And he’s an amazing, amazing entertainer. So, I want to open up just about Sandler in general. I’m a big fan. We followed Sandler for many, many years. And in my mind, it’s all about communication and how communication is so important in sales. Can you comment on that?
Mike Montague: Yeah, I think that’s what I fell in love with too. My dad became a Sandler trainer when I was a junior in high school. So, like 28 years ago now, and I took, the foundation’s, you know, selling course when I was 16 years old and didn’t have anything to sell. So, I fell in love with the communication principles and then the personal development, the eyesight and the attitude and the beliefs that. You know, people deserve respect, and it should be an adult-to-adult conversation, and learning how to be an adult in a conversational selling kind of way with Sandler was really a cool experience for me. So, I lean on that a lot too. I think the communication skills bonding and rapport and we talk about DISC personality profiles and OK, Not OK is a big one for me. I don’t know if you’ve ever had anybody talk about that on the show, but that was life-changing for me. [3:06]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, you know, I think the one thing that comes to my mind, Sandler is all about equal stature, right?
Mike Montague: Yeah.
Nancy Calabrese: What we do is just as important as what the prospect does. And when you have that mindset, it really helps you, you know, navigate through the conversations.
Mike Montague: Well, not only that, but I also think it goes right to the, OK, Not OK principles too. So, if you’re not familiar, there was a book that came out in the 60s called I’m Okay, You’re Okay. And that’s that adult-to-adult conversation that you’re talking about. So, a lot of times, whether it’s a child to parent or it’s a salesperson to the leader, we tend to be subservient. We tend to, you know, want to get the deal and we, we do things that aren’t in our best interests. And we even position ourselves intentionally as a servant in that relationship, rather than being that adult with equal business stature and a highly paid consultant who is helping them solve challenges. And that’s interesting to me.
Nancy Calabrese: Huh. So, let’s talk about your book, LinkedIn The Sandler Way. You’re all about, and you’re very involved in, say, social selling, and social media marketing, but you feel that there are two different things. Can you explain that? [4:28]
Mike Montague: Yeah, I think, especially when I wrote the book, it’s eight years old now, but I intentionally wrote it to be evergreen because I think there is this dichotomy between social media marketing and what most social media sites have become. It was already starting there eight years ago where people were jumping on LinkedIn and they’re saying, we need to build an audience. You need to join 50 groups. You need to get, you know, 500 contacts as fast as possible. You need to get as large. an audience as possible and then blast messages in your posts and hope that someday somebody buys from you.
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Mike Montague: But what I found is that’s a marketing approach, right? That’s a one-to-many blast of a message for brand awareness. And some of those strategies are not bad. If you’re the brand ambassador, like I am for Sandler, or the CEO, David Madsen, those approaches are pretty good. But we have over 500 trainers. We can’t really all be subject matter experts and brand ambassadors for what we’re doing. A lot of the time, salespeople that I’ve trained like Uber or Thermo Fisher Scientific, have thousands of salespeople around the world. What I wanted to talk about was, what we do in a sales conversation with social media. So how can we add more people, information, and opportunities to our pipeline and turn it into a one-to-one communication and a back-and-forth conversation rather than blasting messages? And I found that to be really a lot more powerful. [6:00]
Nancy Calabrese: Huh, you know, the one thing that I realized, so you know my business is all about appointment setting and cold calling. And one of the advantages of actually speaking with people is we can uncover what their pains are, right, in a call. And I have found, and I do use LinkedIn, you know, Navigator, and you know, we do get appointments, but I don’t often know if their pain is deep enough for them to want to make a move today. Do you find that? Do you have a lot of meet-and-greets versus serious contenders?
Mike Montague: You know, that’s interesting. It can happen certainly when you’re doing cold outreach because that person, you know, is sort of a stranger. You’re not doing a whole lot of qualification, maybe whatever you can find online, and certainly the AI tools and data you can get now are better than ever from their side. Uh, and the same thing back to you. They may just be trying to qualify you and so early, you’re not going to have a whole ton of really great success, but I think social media when you start conversations, there are two ways that I look at it. One is getting referrals out of those conversations. I just want to meet cool people. I want to have a conversation like we are here today. And if there’s something that happens, then great. We keep it moving. If not, maybe they can introduce me to somebody in their network that would be a better fit for that. And not putting a lot of pressure on it. And then the second thing I would say is really going heavy on that qualification, that I should be using all my tools and insights and my Sandler questioning skills to dive deep into that conversation and see if there’s anything there. Sometimes people only have surface-level pains, and you have to help them uncover them, or they haven’t recognized them yet, they have unrecognized pains that are not quite ripe yet, right? They’re below the surface, and we need to go deeper on those. [8:04]
Nancy Calabrese: So social selling, what’s your definition of that?
Mike Montague: For me, it’s what I said earlier, just adding people information and opportunities to your pipeline by using any type of sales or social media platform. So, apps and things these days get wide. That includes a whole lot of other stuff. There are some really great like I mentioned, AI tools like Humantic AI, which will give you their disk profile before you even call them and stuff. That’s adding information to your pipeline and selling in a way that.
Nancy Calabrese: Absolutely. Yeah, by the way, I used Humantic, but I forgot what your DISC profile is tool. I know that Dave Mattson is what a CD.
Mike Montague: Yeah, yeah, he’s definitely on the task-oriented side. I’m on the people-oriented side. So, we make a good team.
Nancy Calabrese: You’re on the people’s side. I’m a DI, so I think I have more I in me than I do D. Okay, so moving along, you shared with me that you believe fewer connections lead to more conversations. Why is that? [9:17]
Mike Montague: This was an interesting insight because I don’t think people realize, they think again on the marketing approach that the more connections you have on LinkedIn, the better, the wider your reaches. And from a marketing perspective or advertising, that’s true. But from a sales perspective, it’s actually the deep relationships that matter. So as human beings, we can only keep track of about 150 to 250 relationships at any given time, we just don’t have the bandwidth. And it’s an interesting number. It’s through a lot of scientific research. It goes back to even when humans were in tribes, wandering the planes and stuff. It was like at about 150, you see them start to split off because you just can’t know everybody, and you can’t keep close to relationships with that many people. So, what happens with salespeople is… They start getting weaker relationships. They start chasing weaker deals and they start missing things from their ideal clients because they’re not paying attention to them. [10:21]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah.
Mike Montague: So, if you can create a diverse network, you want that 150 to be as wide-ranging as possible because then you’re getting more, you know information and you’re getting more opportunities from a wider range of people. If I only had 150, I don’t know, uh, franchise brokers or whatever in my profile. I’m only going to hear about stories and news posts and things that are happening in the franchise world. But if I have 150 random people that are different ages and interests and religions or countries or work industries and, uh, jobs, you know, some people are frontline, some people are CEO and executives, but I really know. And I follow all 150 of them. I’m going to get a ton of information. I’m going to hear about opportunities. I wouldn’t have if I was just, you know, randomly scrolling through a thousand people’s posts.
Nancy Calabrese: You know, I totally agree with you because very often when we are prospecting for One of a Kind Sales, I speak with decision makers that think they have to have millions of contacts. And there’s just no way to have a system in place to touch them, right, throughout the year on a regular basis. So, I’m in your court, you know, less is more for sure. [11:40] Now, I do want to move into what I…
Mike Montague: Yeah, it really gets expensive and there’s a whole lot of other downsides too, right? Then the algorithm starts choosing for you whom it wants you to pay attention to rather than you choosing whom you’re following.
Nancy Calabrese: So everyone out there, you’ve got to go check playfulhumans.com. It’s a dot com, Mike?
Mike Montague: Yeah, you got it.
Nancy Calabrese: It’s an amazing website. And I’m going to quote something that I read, and I want you to describe it in more detail. You quoted “Harvard Business Review that stated, happy people are 31% more productive and have 37% higher sales. But the flip side to that, is high-stress cultures make employees 10 to 15 IQ points dumber”. So, what made you create this company and why does it work so well? [12:40]
Mike Montague: I love you. Yeah. Uh, thank you for sharing that. It’s so great. Um, this is my side project, and it just makes me, um, makes me happy with something that I, it was a COVID baby for me. And I’ve always been playful. I was an entertainer and DJ in my younger days and, got to do fun things like open for Billy Idol and Frankie Valley. And so, I always had this playful side of things. And what I found in corporate cultures a lot is that, especially with the measurement, culture we have these days that people are stressing each other the heck out. And even with technology and all the great advances, and tools that can help us sell more, sometimes they make it worse because we start overthinking it. And so, when we’re stressed out, we settle on one right answer that will allow us to survive the situation. And what we don’t often settle on is the most creative and innovative solution that’ll get the best outcome long term. And so, our creativity goes down and our communication skills go down. I want to get stressed out, but even having your cell phone in the room makes you 10% dumber because you outsource your brain to the phone. You go “Oh, I don’t have to know this. I can Google it”. Right? [13:55]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Mike Montague: And so all these technologies, and sometimes it even happens in the Sandler training. I’ll be honest with you. You know, when you first learn about the pain funnel, your kind of do it like a robot. You forget how you were supposed to sell you know, the week before, and now you’re trying to do all these new moves. And it can hurt you a little bit. And we really work hard with people to practice, and role play in the classroom. And then just be themselves, let all this soak in, and just sell the way that you know how to sell and look for some of these opportunities to leverage a really good idea, a really good technique. But if you try and do everything all the time, you get in your head, and it just causes a lot more problems than it does.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, you know, one thing that’s so important in my culture is we’ve got to have fun. You know, my people work so hard and they’re in No business, right? Most salespeople are in a No business, right? And you must flip that. Well, I’m getting closer to my yes. And I think humor, and fun games, just keep everyone fresh and motivated to want to do it one more time and maybe get that next no, but they keep doing it, you know? [15:09]
Mike Montague: Yeah, well, it’s funny, right? It’s so obvious, but we forget that happy people do more work, happy people repeat things. So, whether that’s your employees and the job they’re doing, or your customers, customers that enjoy a happy salesperson and experience refer more people than clients that were stressed out and that you stressed out because you were having a bad day or whatever. So, it’s blatantly obvious to me. But we forget it so much when we’re trying to charge for numbers or we’re getting beat down by those Nos. We forget that like having fun when you smile more, it’s contagious. People join in on that and then you get referrals, and you get better outcomes and people love working.
Nancy Calabrese: Isn’t it true it takes fewer muscles to smile than it is to frown?
Mike Montague: I always like that one. I think it’s true. Yeah, I’ll buy that biologically.
Nancy Calabrese: I think it’s true too, you’re making me smile. Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Mike Montague: Oh, I feel like I have a bunch of these from playful humans. But I think the thing that is interesting to me is when you take yourself and your work less seriously, you can become more productive. People equate hard work with success. And I don’t think that’s true. It depends on the work you’re doing. If you’re You know, building a deck or a brick wall. Sure. The more work you do, the higher the wall is going to get, but in selling, that’s not true. And selling the harder you try to sell, the less likely you are to get that. [16:50]
Nancy Calabrese: Oh yeah. Yeah, just as we’ve been talking, have fun with it. Understand their communication style, which really is what Sandler is all about, right? Becoming an actor, which obviously is common for you or easy for you, Mike, but you become actors, right? Depending on the person that we’re speaking with. You wanna match their style.
Mike Montague: It is largely a Broadway play and we’re just kind of the producers here. And if we have fun and we realized that we got a lot of different players in this role, um, we can have fun with it. We can be a third party to it. We cannot take it personally and, uh, we can experiment, have fun.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So, we’re almost up with time. What is the one takeaway you want to leave the audience with?
Mike Montague: I think it’s also not being afraid to be yourself. So, whether that’s in sales, it’s in social selling with LinkedIn, or the kind of personal branding and play work that I do with Playful Humans, I think we try to fit in often too. And that makes us boring and the same as everybody else. That is when you embrace your weirdness and your silliness and your personality, and then go find people that want that rather than trying to make yourself into something that other people want. I think that’s a really powerful lesson.
Nancy Calabrese: So basically Mike, what you’re saying is go find other weird people like yourself. You’re so funny. So how come my people find you?
Mike Montague: Go to Sandler.com and subscribe to the How to Succeed podcast anywhere you’re listening to this. It’s a great show. We talked to salespeople and sales leaders about how to succeed and then playful humans, playfulhumans.com. There’s a fun quiz on there where you can do a personality quiz and find out maybe some better ways to incorporate play into your life and then reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’d always love to connect. [18:44]
Nancy Calabrese: I love it. So, a huge thank you for joining me. I know I’m the second of your third podcast today. You sounded fresh and I’m sure you’re going to do a great job on the next one. But I hope you’ll come back sometime and, you know, make us all laugh. Maybe we’ll just focus on the playful humans. How does that sound?
Mike Montague: Uh, that sounds great. I would love to play a game next time or tell you a good joke too. That’d be fun.
Nancy Calabrese: Yes. All right. So, everyone take advantage and reach out to Mike. He’s full of wisdom. He’s a lot of fun and his insights are spot-on when it comes to sales. So, until we speak again, have a great sales day. [19:35]