Ed Porter | Insider Tips from a Fractional CRO

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

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

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

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


Mentioned in this episode:


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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese. And yes, it is time for Conversational Selling the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Joining us today is Ed Porter CRO of Blue Chip. Blue Chip is a fractional chief revenue officer service that enables businesses to build revenue strategies and accelerate their growth. Their core focus is aligning revenue organization, marketing, sales, enablement, and customer success teams through design, process and technology to ensure they work together in harmony. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed: Yes. 

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

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

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

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

Nancy: Thanks again.

Ed: Thank you.

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

John Asher | The 5 Factors for Success in Sales

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

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

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

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

Mentioned in this episode:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy: I love it.

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

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

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

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

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

Optimism increases Sales

They say that optimists see the glass as half full. I say that optimists see a full sales pipeline!

Let me explain.

Which would you rather spend time with – a person who is grumpy and glum or a positive, happy person? I would take the positive one every time! And when making cold calls, that positive attitude can be the difference between keeping a prospect on the phone until they set an appointment and having them hang up.

Now don’t get me wrong, hang ups happen, and sometimes, if they weren’t a good fit, that works in your favor – saving you time and effort. But if you want to keep people on the phone long enough to see if they ARE a good fit, a positive outlook is key.

Put on those ‘Rose Colored Glasses’.

Optimism is defined as “A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.”

In a business where so much of your day can be determined by the actions of others, it is great to know that this is something you can drive. What you ‘expect’ and what you ‘dwell on’ are both within YOUR control.

Control those and you gain more control over your results.

Data supports the claim.

Studies show that optimists outsell pessimists, in some cases by many times over! Here is an example of the results from a study done by Dr Martin Seligman, an expert in ‘positive psychology’, from just two industries:


                  Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 38 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 88 percent.

                  Real Estate 

                  Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 33 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by a whopping 319 percent. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to be unrealistically optimistic. You need to be able to acknowledge challenges and obstacles. I am suggesting that you confidently address them and move one. That you focus on the silver lining rather than the clouds. Don’t dwell on the hang-ups or the unanswered calls, rather, focus on the person you are going to speak with next. Be present and enjoy meeting them. Learn about their needs and see how you can help!  

And yes, you can take this too far. Being blindly optimistic can be detrimental to your sales goals. Sitting at your desk, or worse yet, on a distant beach, imagining that prospects will start calling YOU probably won’t fill your pipeline.  

But a good dose of optimism WILL boost your confidence, your outlook and your bottom line! 

For more on this see our post Control What You Can in Sales and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for daily sales tips, advice and periodic boosts of optimism!

Brynne Tillman | Secrets from the LinkedIn Whisperer

On this week’s episode, our guest is “The LinkedIn Whisperer”, Brynne Tillman! Brynne is the CEO of Social Sales Link and for over a decade has been teaching entrepreneurs, sales teams, and business leaders how to leverage the awesome power of LinkedIn for social selling. She has adapted proven traditional sales techniques to the new, digital world in order to find and engage the right target market.

LinkedIn is the most powerful digital database for business. It offers users the ability to search and filter connections and leverage relationships in order to earn referrals and the permission to name-drop, like a virtual sales conference lobby social. Brynne’s insights into LinkedIn marketing helps companies and individuals maximize business opportunities on the site. Her tips include:

  • How to convert your profile from a resume into a client resource
  • Why it’s important to use a permission-based model
  • How to engage with influencer articles to find new business
  • The importance of offering free content to your network
  • And so much more

Brynne’s company offers e-learning memberships, coaching, and a community of like-minded business people making the most of what LinkedIn has to offer, but you can get all of her most important LinkedIn lessons by listening in now!

Mentioned in this episode:


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

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it is 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 Brynne Tillman, the LinkedIn Whisperer and CEO of Social Sales Link. For over a decade, she has been teaching entrepreneurs, sales teams and business leaders how to leverage LinkedIn for social selling. 

As a former sales trainer, and personal producer, Brynne adopted all of the traditional sales techniques and adapted them to the new digital world. She guides professionals to establish a thought leader and subject matter expert brand, find and engage the right targeted market and leverage clients and networking partners for warm introductions into qualified buyers. In addition, Brynne is the author of the LinkedIn Sales Playbook, A Tactical Guide to Social Selling. So folks, I’m sure we can all agree that LinkedIn is all over the place today, and an excellent resource, especially for the b2b world. Brynne, I know you have an abundance of tips to share with us today. So welcome to the show.

Brynne Tillman: Oh, my gosh, Nancy, thank you so much for having me. I’m so honored.

Nancy: Oh, well, ditto, ditto. And, you know, as I, as I opened up, LinkedIn is all over the place. I believe in LinkedIn marketing as an important channel in the marketing process. I’ve gotten clients from it, as I’m sure many of my listeners have. But why is it so important in sales and marketing? Why is this channel really credit a critical component to a plan?

Brynne: There’s so many directions, I can go with that answer. But the first one and the most simple one is that’s where the business people are. Right? This is, this is the professional platform, that almost everyone in business, particularly in the US, but even globally, is at least at least has a presence. So that’s number one. Number two, not only is it the biggest, I believe the biggest professional database, but it is the the only self updated database, meaning there are things like Dun and Bradstreet lists and Zoom info. 

But all of those are updated by either bots that are scanning the web or human beings, where LinkedIn is, hey, I moved my my company, I’m at a new company, I’m updating my profile. So I’ve been really, it’s as up to date as any info you can get anywhere. And the number one from a sales perspective, why I think LinkedIn is the most powerful tool in any tool chest, not just today is because we have the ability to search and filter our connections, connections and identify who they know that we want to meet and leverage our relationships to get right one referrals or permission to name drop. And I could go on with another 50. But I’ll start with those three. 

Nancy: Wow. So you know, what really caught my attention in the opener was that you adapted traditional sales techniques to the digital world? What techniques Did you adapt in particular? And how did you know it was time to do it?

Brynne: Well, you know, I, I don’t I started doing this before it was time to do it. But I knew it was a better way a faster way to get to where I wanted to go. So I guess it’s sort of a two part question. So let’s, I’m going to back up for a second and answer. The first part is what what did I do to adapt? And the interesting thing in answering that question is, what I do is bring in what I would traditionally do, just do it on digital. So for example, I’m just going to throw one example out and again, there could be 50 of these but I come across this very engaged upon article by an influencer in the industry who’s attracting lots of my potential buyers. I just stumbled across it or I went and I purposely founded but either way, there’s a gold mine sitting here. 

So I want you to think about this. This is a networking event that article, author is the keynote. And all these people that are commenting are, you know, in the audience or even in the lobby having a conversation before they even go into the audience. And they’re talking about the topic that that keynote has just posted, right? So in real life, if that were the case, you would walk into a circle of people talking at a networking event in or you know, prior to the, the, the main stage, and you would listen, first you wouldn’t kill, you wouldn’t butt your head into a circle of people say, hey, guys, I help companies just like yours. Right, right. That’s what this what people are doing on LinkedIn. 

What we need to do is get into that circle, listen, ask questions like, what would you naturally do in that environment? And we need to do ask questions, provide additional insights, not about your stuff. But about the topic you’re engaging on. Maybe I own everyone’s engaging on Nancy’s content that is so fabulous. And I say, hey, I, you know, I’m now one on one with someone who commented on Nancy’s stuff. And I say, I don’t know if you heard her podcast two weeks ago with Meredith Powell was absolutely phenomenal. If you’re interested, let me know. I’ll send you a link. And I’m still having a conversation around the topic. I haven’t moved to me yet. Because in real life, you wouldn’t move to you until they say, so by the way, what do you do?

Nancy: Right.

Brynne: Right. And some of that is, hey, they visit your profile. And you notice they visit your profile. So now they know what you do. And you can say, Hey, I noticed you checked out my profile, and I was checking out yours. I’m not sure if you’re exploring this kind of content. But you are, I’d be happy to send you that information too. Right. But it’s a permission based. It’s not pitching your face. And so you know, when you ask the question, taking the traditional networking in sales online, the irony of that is I didn’t have to do too much adapting.

Nancy: Right. I love what you just said permission based, not pitching in your face. 

Brynne: Yes. 

Nancy: All right. Did you come up with that? 

Brynne: Yes. 

Nancy: That’s a good one. I may steal it from you.

Brynne: I’ve already coined it, but you’re welcome to use it.

Nancy: Okay. I’ll give you a shout out if I use it, okay?

Brynne: Three times and then it’s yours. 

Nancy: Okay, thank you. So that answers the one part that when did you know it was the right time to kind of cut the cord and really just go into it. 

Brynne: Well, I was actually a co owner of the sales training company. And we were using LinkedIn and watching 10 years ago, as a as a loss leader, or maybe a win leader, because we were charging, but we would then sell them into more traditional sales training. And it wasn’t aligning well with me, I really wanted to just do the LinkedIn stuff. And my partner at the time didn’t. So we gave each other a hug. She laughed at me. And she said, when this trend is over, you’re always welcome back. And that’s seven and a half years later. We’re still here. But I love it. And it really it just resonates with me. You know, I see the LinkedIn logo and I get happy. It’s just my world.

Nancy: Yeah, well, you’re passionate about it. You know, speaking of passion, I just listened to Simon Sinek talk about passion, which I found on LinkedIn. And so it all goes back to LinkedIn. You also, and I read that you suggest converting your LinkedIn profile from a resume to a resource to become a thought leader. Why is this so important?

Brynne: Well, so I mean, if you’re looking for a job, just hold your ears and scream real loud, because when I’m about to say is wrong. But if you’re looking, if you are in a business development role, you have to earn the right for someone to care about what you do. You even have to earn the right for someone to care about how you can help them. I can’t tell you how many clients start with me, I don’t understand why I can’t get a call. I bring so much value. But they don’t know that yet. 

So no matter what you think you bring to the table. Yeah, they don’t even they have no interest in checking out your table. Right. So you have to earn the right for them to even want a conversation with you. And it can start with the profile. Right? And so they show up. And if it’s all resume driven, and if you’re like a real like hardcore sales person, and it’s my mission, my passion, my years in business, my great negotiating skills, my President’s Club four years in a row. You’re gonna lose them. That’s not what matters to them.

Nancy: Well, what I wanted to add was in listening to you describe that, you’re not describing what you do to help others correct and, and why people come to you, versus this is my great story and hope you love it come to me. 

Brynne: So, the interesting thing is, the next mistake people make is they tell them how they can help them first.

Nancy: Okay. 

Brynne: So you have to earn the right for them to care about how you can help them. And I’m not saying you have to tell them how they could buy from you, or they’ll never buy from you. But you’ve got to earn the right for them to care about that. And so that’s where the resource piece comes in. So, and there’s two major places to be a resource. Could be more, but two that we really stress, which is the about section and the featured section. So most people start their about section about me. Move all that into the experience. About you, about the company, about your products and services, move that into the experience, and make the about section about them. 

And don’t tell them how you can help them, actually help them. That’s the difference, right? If we will we help companies from go from this size to this size, we’ve helped a company move from a $10 million company to $100 million company in five years. We’ve all right, like, so I don’t even care yet. Because here’s the thing, they’re not actively shop, most of them are not actively shopping your stuff. They’re not at a networking meeting, you went up to someone in a networking meeting, and you’re in your first conversations, you’re talking about how we’ve helped other companies succeed, their eyes are rolling in the back of their head going, I can’t wait to get over to the crab dip and lead this person. 

But we’re doing it on LinkedIn, right? On LinkedIn. So what do we have to do, we have to really provide value. And I am going to make a bet that almost everyone on this that’s listening to this today has done this in real life, you’re talking with someone, you ask them about their business, you learn a little bit about their challenges. And we offer value and insights before we talk about our company. We offer some ideas for that we offer right and now all of a sudden, they’re like, oh, this is a smart person, this person is real. We’re not this is totally free consulting. And there are some sales trainers that say don’t ever give free consulting away. 

And I say hogwash, give it away as much as you want. I mean, not the same person for hours at a time, but a lot of people for 10 minutes at a time, right? Because they get to test drive you. Right. And you don’t very well maybe it’s different today, but very few people ever bought a car without test driving it, you got to drive the car for 10 minutes for free. And then if you wanted to keep driving the car, you bought it. But if you didn’t test drive it, you may not have known you’d love that car. And so we have to let them test drive us. And that comes out of bringing insights and value to the conversation naturally and organically in a way that says, oh my god, that was the free stuff like in the back of their head. Imagine if I worked with them. 

So back to the profile. That’s the job of the profile to do that to let them test drive us. So your about section should cover the challenge, some real insights, some aha moments that get them not only learning something new, but thinking differently about the way they’re doing business today, because that’s what gets them to raise their hand and say, yeah, I’m open to a conversation.

Nancy: Well, so I kind of think maybe we covered this because I had asked you to come up with a unique idea that is different and sets you apart, I guess within your space, right, the world of other LinkedIn marketers, what makes you unique? 

Brynne: I think one of the things that I do is I simplify everything. My clients will are blown away at how simple it is to implement what we teach. There are a lot of people that are really smart in our space. But everything seems very complicated and it’s over. Not I don’t wanna say overthought because you know, when I listened to it, I love it. But I’m on that level potentially, right? But for new people, like our trainings are short, but they’re impactful and they know exactly what to do and how to do it. And they have the right mindset for it. So they know why. They know how, and they get like that we’re working toward a goal and this what we’re doing right now is part of that goal. There’s very little fluff in anything you do.

Nancy: Well, that’s right up my alley. Talk to me about something you would like to spotlight. What in particular you want to share with the audience?

Brynne: Or you mean in an insights perspective?

Nancy: Well, um, you know, I know that you have the social sales link, maybe you can talk further about that and a membership program.

Brynne: We do. So everything is simple. Our e learning, it’s $99. And then we have if you’re a member, and you have coaching at $29 a month, so we keep it really, really simple. We have a twice weekly group coaching calls where our members come on, and they ask their questions, and they share their screens. And as a community, we work together to really bring value and insights. And what’s really fun is like much the people in the community are doing business with each other. And the people in the community are referring each other. 

So it’s gone way beyond like my little project. And it’s really an animal in and of itself, which is amazing. I’m so obsessed with it. I’m so happy. And then on the other side of it, which is our primary business or has been for most of the years is the corporate training. We teach both LinkedIn and Sales Navigator to sales teams.

Nancy: Okay. And you know, I’m sure, just a guess here that you’re full of interesting stories. Do you have one you would share with the audience?

Brynne: Oh, sure. Okay, um, this is my own story. I have client stories, too. But I would say probably nine, eight or nine years ago, I was practicing what I teach. So I had a client named Rob Petcove, who owned a benefits company now they’ve been bought out by Gallagher since but it was his own little benefits company the time. And we did some great stuff for them. And so of course, I’m gonna ask for referrals, because that’s what we do is really good sales people. 

But what I teach is to mine connections, and instead of saying, Rob, who do you know, I would say, Rob, I see, you know, these people, when we talk through them. One of them happened to be Rob Curley, who was a heavy hitter at TD Bank that I had been trying to get into for years and just had no luck. And I said, so how do you know Rob Curley? He goes, both our boys had juvenile diabetes. We’ve been in the same group since they were little. And he’s a great guy. I really love him. So can you make an introduction? Sure. Within 20 minutes, it was still in his office. I had a reply with Monday morning. 10am. Here’s the address. 

Nancy: Love it. 

Brynne: I showed up. And he looked at me and he’s like, alright, go. And I said, Well, why am I here he goes, because if Rob Petcove asked me to do something I’m doing and he’s one of my favorite people. So I said, if I can show you commercial lenders, how you can do the same thing he looked at his calendar, he said two weeks from Thursday. 11am. By the way, how much and it was the fastest sale I ever made. And they are still my client today.

Nancy: Love it. Wow. I think I don’t know if you document that story. Pass it out. Because it’s a good one, for sure. It’s leveraging the connections on LinkedIn.

Brynne: Yeah, that story is actually in my first book, that I published. 

Nancy: Okay. 

Brynne: But I mean, I’ve told it for years and years, and I’ve actually even told it to Rob’s team. So.

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

Brynne: So I don’t know if nobody agrees with me on this. But we just finished a study. So I proved something out. So I don’t know, completely like no one agrees with me, because I do think there are people even colleagues that agree. And one particular colleague that inspired the study. But it’s whether or not to send someone a link to content. So we typically, throughout you would say, you know, hey, I noticed you’re interested in this. And this, I found a blog post on this topic. Here are some of the great insights, thought you get some value from it. Here’s the link. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

So we did that for a long time just sharing valuable content, nurturing our connections. And one of the my colleagues said, that feels really spammy today. I really, this is an existing connection that I’ve had engagement with, but okay, so let’s, if that’s feeling spammy, let’s ask permission. So now, you know, I might say, hey, Nancy, I came across this article in Selling Magazine that I thought, you know, as someone who is deeply connected into sales, training, coaching, you find it of interest. Some of my takeaways were this, this and this, let me know if you’d like the link, I’d be happy to send it over to you. 

Nancy: Okay.

Brynne: So we did the test. And literally last week we finished it. We did 100 messages, giving the link and 100 messages, asking permission to send the link. The 100 messages that we sent, we got 19 click throughs. Not bad. Right? You okay, 19? That’s not bad, right? And remember, these are existing connections. So it’s not cold calling. It’s just nurturing people that we’ve already connected to. So 19 sounds right. But the second hundred, 69 of them said, sure, send me the link and 58 clicked through.

Nancy: Wow. 

Brynne: Right? 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Brynne: They didn’t feel spammy. I think two things happen. And now what I’m about to say is not part of the study. It’s my observation. Number one, they didn’t feel spammed by me. All right, they had the option, and they didn’t feel like I was trying to throw a link in their face. The second thing is FOMO fear of missing out, if I send you the link, you have the link, you can click through anytime, you’re not missing anything. It’s always available to you. If I dont’ send the link, you’re probably like, hmm, I wonder if that’s a good link. 

Nancy: I bet you’re right. Cool. So I’m just curious, what would be the next step, the people that went into it.

Brynne: So I mean, it would depend on so in this particular case, the next step was inviting them to if they clicked through inviting them to a webinar that was on that subject, which is in two weeks, so I’ll let you know. But that was the cadence we decided. So it looks like you had some interest in a day in the life of a social seller was around cadence and putting, you know, kind of a process around your social selling, if you’re interested, it’s completely free. And then we’ll sell them into the E learning for $99. At the end, they’re gonna get so much value. Right? You know, you know, but but that’s sort of the cadence. And then and if they want to hop off and not listen to the pitch, I mean, we’ll be really one of my transition slides is because I teach them about, you know, do we earn the right, we earned the right idea. 

And I’ll say, did we earn the right to tell you a little bit about how you could work with us? Put a y in chat? And everyone, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes. Right. So we just did a permission base, can I sell to you? So my webinar runs the same way as everything else, then I’m asking you permission, can I tell you how you can work with us in the $99 you learning $29 a month coaching, and my and we sent it out to way more than those 200. But those were the 200 we were tracking for the money. And then most of the others were permission based. But we’ll probably have three or 400 people that register and maybe 150 to two hundred people that show up and maybe 75 that buy.

Nancy: All right, yeah. I’ll take that right. 

Brynne: Yes, absolutely. 

Nancy: Yeah. We are coming to the end of an amazing conversation. And the one takeaway, if anybody walks out of this or stop, you know, gets out of this program, what would that be? What do you want to leave the listeners with?

Brynne: The one takeaway is really treat the person on the other side of the message the same way you would on the other side of the table? These are human beings that we’re doing business with no automation, no bots, you wouldn’t send a robot to network for you. Just show up, be human, be of value. Have real conversations, the sales will come when the time is right.

Nancy: Wow. How can we find you? How can my listeners get in front of you?

Brynne: Well, I’m still the only Brynne Tillman on LinkedIn, which is pretty good. So that works. You can also access our free content and find us there at socialsaleslink.com/library, and there’s a ton of great resources there. But I think that’s those are probably the best ways to connect.

Nancy: Well, if this was awesome for me, and I hope it’s been awesome for all of you listening in. Have a fantastic sales day everyone and remember, reach out to Brynne. Let’s all get the most out of LinkedIn marketing. 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.

Fred Diamond | Three Keys to Successful Sales

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

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

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

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

Mentioned in this episode:


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

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

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

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

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

Nancy: Wow. Why did you stop?

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

Nancy: Oh, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy: Yep. What about the other two?

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

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

Nancy: And what’s the third idea?

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

Nancy: No, no,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy: Sharpening their skills. 

Fred: Exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy: Right? Don’t do that, folks. 

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

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

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

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

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

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