By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg. Next, Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise. We covered a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into the New Year.
I’m excited to share highlights from episode 04 and my conversation with Jim Keenan. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at http://salespipeline.podbean.com/
Next time: Joanne Black talking about Reinventing Referrals – How to get a consistent stream of qualified leads with one call. Also coming up: Meagen Eisenberg, Josiane Chriqui Feigon, and Aaron Ross
Matt: We are so lucky, we’ve already got an amazing lineup of guests for the early part of 2016. We just got started with Sales Pipeline Radio late 2015. Not only do we have a great lineup over the next few weeks, but we’re starting off 2016 and can’t imagine doing it with anyone better. We’ve got Jim Keenan, who is the CEO of A Sales Guy and the author of the recently published book, Not Taught. Very excited to learn more about Not Taught and talk to Jim more about that.
Make sure you check us out on Thursday afternoons at 1 o’clock PST. We’re going to have Joanne Black from her business, No More Cold Calling. She wrote a book recently called Pick Up the Damn Phone—bet you can guess what kind of sales she recommends. Excited to have her. We’ve got some great guests coming up talking about account-based marketing, inside sales, sales operations… But first, let’s start with Jim.
Like I said, Jim, I can’t imagine starting with someone better than yourself, so thanks so much for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio today.
Jim: Aw man, my pleasure. This is going to be a good time.
Matt: It’s going to be fun. It’s definitely going to be entertaining. So, maybe just start, Jim, by giving people an introduction of yourself, your background, and a little bit about your business and the book.
Jim: I’m a teacher, I’m a coach. I’ve been that way my whole life. I like fixing problems, I like helping people. So that’s what I do, and that transpires through my business. I am CEO and founder of A Sales Guy. We are a sales consulting firm, and what I do is I go in and I help organizations fix, grow, readjust, and improve their sales organizations. I’m actually sitting at a client sight right now. I’m also the author of a new book, Not Taught, where I teach, once again, and coach people on how to leverage all the wonderful and beautiful advantages of the 21st century that the information age has created for success that few people are really aware of. That’s me in a nutshell.
Matt: That’s awesome. I want to talk a lot more about the new book, Not Taught. You can find it on Amazon, just search for “Jim Keenan” or “Not Taught” and you’ll find it up there. Brand new book, some great advice. We’ll talk about that in a minute, but I also want to point out that Jim is a regular blogger. He does podcasts, he does videos… I don’t know what you’re not doing these days. But it’s all fantastic stuff. One of the things I always appreciate about your perspective is, it’s unfiltered, it’s raw, but it’s real, it’s relevant, it’s something that any sales professional in any industry… no matter who you’re selling to, I think it can help you get better and help you learn. Talk a little more about the ways listeners can pick your brain virtually through the various things you’re publishing on a regular basis.
Jim: Yeah, thank you for that. Obviously you can go on my blog, asalesguy.com. I think you nailed it: I am always talking about sales management, selling issues, leadership issues, client issues… Basically I’m just talking about how the heck sales people can get more sales through their customers and clients, and then how sales leaders can get more out of their sales people. You can also find me through YouTube if you put in “Keenan” or “a sales guy” you can find me there. I do a regular show every two weeks where I bring in really, really freaking smart people and we talk about success, we talk about sales (on YouTube). And then one of my favorites is #heykeenan. If you ask me a question via Twitter, or Facebook, or YouTube using the hashtag #heykeenan, I will answer that question on my show that we do about once a week (we took the last part of the year off, but we’re going to be starting that up again soon). So that’s one of the best ways to connect with me.
Matt: Yeah, #heykeenan is a lot of fun. If you go to www.asalesguy.com, in the upper right hand corner you’ll see a link to #heykeenan. It’s a lot of fun to watch—you always have a great set of topics and things you’re talking about, but it’s also sort of an off the cuff piece that you incorporate your staff in as well.
This is the first episode of Sales Pipeline Radio for 2016. It’s the beginning of January, and therefore it’s also sales kickoff season. Sounds like you’re in a client’s office. I know a lot of thought leaders and sales experts like yourself are helping sales teams kick off the year. What are some things that you are talking about and seeing among sales teams that are themes or focus areas as we kick off the 2016 selling season?
Jim: That’s a great question. Much of my work is built around the infrastructure and the development of the sales organization as a whole, so I’m not really a trainer. When it is demanded by the client, we may provide training, but what I do is help organizations look at things from a holistic perspective or strategic perspective.
And so, through that lens, what I’m seeing a lot is sales organizations just aren’t very aligned with what they want. They’re not very clear on their goals. So I’ve done a lot of sales kickoffs with new clients, and what happens is I ask, “What do you want to get done this year?” and they aren’t really sure or they throw out some arbitrary number, but outside of that, I’m like, “Ok, well how are you going to do it? What’s your strategy?” “Uh, we’re going to… hire more people?” I’m like, “Well, that… why is that a strategy?” So it’s really helping organizations get more aligned and more deliberate in exactly the execution mode of how they’re actually going to get to their numbers. Where are the gaps: the structural gaps, the strategic gaps, the people gaps, and the process gaps that will help them get there?
Matt: Love that. One of the themes I hear from you a lot is helping sales reps understand that they are personally and directly responsible for their results. You can get help from your managers, you can get help from your marketing team, but you speak a lot about empowering and motivating individual sales reps. As you talk about that coordination across the team, how much is marketing a part of that? I feel like we’re finally seeing marketing, slowly in some cases, in some companies really step up to the table and embrace revenue responsibility. Are you seeing that? And, even if you’re not, what’s the message that you would have for marketing organizations in the same sales kickoff timing.
Jim: That’s an awesome question. I love that. I’m not seeing enough, as I’d like to see. This is my message: CEOs, you need to listen loud and clear because you’re the one who can pull this straight. And then CROs, CMOs, you need to listen too. If you have a marketing organization who is not incentivized and measured by the exact same numbers that sales is, you’re failing. How in the world can marketing be considered a success, because they’ve delivered so many campaigns and they’ve got so many impressions and they got so many traditional advertising and deals and they’ve advertised the Super Bowl… I don’t give a shit. All of that, yet sales over here missed their number by 15%. How is it that marketing was successful? That’s the big message I have to everybody. Those two need to be on the same page from a measurement perspective. If one is successful, then they’re both successful, and if they both don’t win then they both lose.
Matt: Yeah, I once had a sales manager tell me that they need marketing to feel the terror. You know, sales reps right at the end of the quarter, it’s a scary time. You’re scrambling to make your number, and if the marketing team’s off having happy hour because they met their retweet goal, that doesn’t speak to very much alignment.
Tell me more about how the book came to be. What was the impetus for this? Given the breadth of what you talk about and write about, you could have covered a lot of different ground and a lot of different themes. Talk about the idea behind Not Taught.
Jim: The idea of Not Taught is that I recognized that things have changed. We’ve moved from the industrial age to the information age, and with that, what it takes to be successful, the opportunities that have been created for us, and the new ways of behaving and engaging have completely changed. If you ask, “Well why’d you write this book? You’re in sales, this is completely out of your wheelhouse. It’s not about sales.” It’s about giving. It’s so funny, I got to this because I chose to give.
Adam Grant has a book called Give and Take: How The Most Successful People Win By Giving, and this is a perfect example of that. A friend of mine asked me to speak for free to the University of Denver, one of their graduating classes. And I said, “Okay I’ll do it. What do you want me to speak about?” And he said, “What do they need to know when they graduate?” So when I sat down to create this presentation, I started to realize, “Oh my God. This is completely different… COMPLETELY different than when I was graduating. Oh my goodness it’s so different!” I gave that presentation. There were twelve of them at the time (twelve things they needed to pay attention to that were different), and they absolutely ate it up. From that I realized, “Wait a minute. If they don’t know, nobody knows, or most people don’t know. There’s more here.” From that giving came up something even more for me. Then I expanded on those notions and wrote a whole book about it.
Matt: I love the concept, we’re going to talk a little more about that as we get back from the break in a few minutes. You recently published on your blog a discussion with Chris Brogan that you called him a “taught leader”, which I liked that a lot, sort of a take on the idea of “thought leader.” I like the idea of the many things that people in the field, who have done the work, have been doing, and the impact that they can have on our business and on our lives.
If you want to learn more about Chris, definitely check out www.asalesguy.com, go to the blog. You’ll read the first in a new series called the Taught Leader Series, based on the book Not Taught. Chris Brogan is quoted calling the book “Redbull for the brain,” which it not only is a great analogy, but if you know Mr. Keenan at all, you know that he has three personal trademarks: the red headphones, the plaid shirt, and the ever present Redbull can hanging out next to him.
Jim, before we go to break, what are some of the other things that you’re reading and thinking about this year? Who are some of the people that you’re learning from? Who are some of the other people that have taught you and influenced you as you’ve grown in your career and experience?
Jim: I’ll make it quick if you want to dig in deeper later. One of the people who influenced me most is my grandfather. He was a very quiet man. I’m not a very quiet person, but he was very reflective. He influenced me in a way that said, “If you’re going to be out there or you’re going to be in everybody’s face, you better damn well be good. And if you’re not, just sit back and be quiet.” He’s a great, stabilized influence in me. He’s been gone for a long time, but I think about him often.
And then today, people that influence me today: We’re a lot alike in a lot of ways. I didn’t know who he was at first until someone saw me speak and said, “Oh my God, you remind me so much of Gary Vaynerchuck.” And I’m like, “Who’s that?” But I’ve sat on the phone with Gary, we’ve had a few email conversations, but I really admire him because he’s not afraid to say what he thinks. I’m sort of the same way. I love Chris because Chris is a true giver. I’ve learned a lot from Chris and the idea of giving. Giving is my thing. Yesterday he said, “Look, our job is to serve our community.” And that is a phenomenal way of putting a lot of what I talk about in the book. So, those are just a couple people, there are so many. I’m grabbing something from someone all the time. I’m always learning.
Matt: Yeah, I think it’s really important to make sure you’re always doing that. For me it’s always interesting to hear people like yourself talk about those that have influenced you and taught you and helped you along the way. You mentioned earlier, talking to the college kids, we had an internal conversation about who’s really responsible for teaching marketers and sales professionals along the way. I’m curious, what’s your quick answer, what’s your advice for those young people coming out of school, starting their careers in sales and marketing? What should they be learning? Where should they be looking for the kind of experience and knowledge that they need to be successful?
Jim: We all need learning, I’m glad you started with that premise. Look folks, if you’re coming out of high school or college or, better yet, if you’ve been in the workplace for years, you need to own your learning. Deliberate learning, self-directed learning is where the gem is. You need to own it. Once you do that: Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuck, two people I mentioned. If it comes to sales you absolutely have to follow Anthony Iannarino. You have to follow Jill Conrad for sure. These are good, solid people with good, solid spaces. If you’re into marketing, like I said, follow Chris, follow Social Media Marketing the blog there. There are so many people. I feel like it’s an Academy Award and I’m forgetting people, right? There’s so much out there, that if you can pick one or two people who are known for their space, that will spider, because they’ll talk about other people and they’ll point you in other directions and you can’t help but get good at it. I know: David Meerman Scott from A Marketing Perspective. Absolutely read his book and check him out.
Matt: If I could summarize what you said, it’s just: continue to be hungry and continue to learn. Whether you’re two months out of school or two years or two decades just keep learning. If you’re in sales, one of the people you want to learn from is Jim Keenan. We’ve got him here.
Jim, we talked about some of the topics and themes for sales organizations going into 2016. Let’s go to the negative for a second and talk about some of the things that are driving you nuts. What are some of the bad habits? What are some of the negative trends or old habits that you still see among sales teams that you think need to be put to bed?
Jim: This is going to surprise the heck out of you, and I mean it with full, full heart and passion. A lot of people listening are not going to like to hear this. They’re going to be pissed off and it’s going to prove my point. What I see year-in and year-out, of all the bad habits, is 80% of sales people cannot sell. They think they’re selling, but they can’t sell to save their life. They’re all terrible. All of you. I’ve read about this so many times I don’t even know what to do with myself. The reason this is, is because almost no sales person actually, truly knows how to sell to the real, intrinsic motivations and the problems that are driving a client.
I come in to clients and I sit down, and their sales people have no idea why their customer is in trouble or what problems they’re facing. I’ll say, “What’s the problem?” They’ll say, “They’re struggling with two separate systems.” I’ll say, “THAT’S NOT THE PROBLEM.” Why does two separate systems affect their business? What happens when they have the separate systems? How does it affect their ability to do their job? How does it affect their ability to compete? And no one has any idea. Well you’re not selling. That’s the problem, most of them cannot sell. They are so high level, pitching products, pitching ideas, pitching solutions, pitch, pitch, pitch, and yet they don’t know how to sell. That’s my problem. You can’t tell I’m too passionate about that one, huh?
Matt: No, definitely not passionate at all. It’s too bad we’re on radio and I can’t see you either, but I can only imagine the arms flailing and the walking around in whatever conference room you’re doing this from in your client’s office. I appreciate that. You hear a lot people saying “Sales is dead.” “Cold calling is dead.” “Don’t be selling, be helping.” There’s an implication in some of that, that selling is a lost art or that selling is no longer relevant in the world of an engaged prospect. Now, I know when I threw that at Mike Weinberg, boy that was a soft ball, and I wound him up for a while. I know that you’re passionate about this as well, so when you hear people say, “Selling is dead.” What’s your reaction to that?
Jim: It’s a joke. Whoever came up with that never sold a thing in their life. Look, I get it. Really small, high transaction things, you can probably get away without a “sales person.” But let me explain something to you: The assumption that statement makes is that the buyer knew the problem and knew they had a problem. Their whole premise is based on what’s called demand reaction. “Hey, I have a problem: I’m hungry. I can pick out a restaurant on my own.” You’re right, you can. But, “Hey, I need a new CRM system. I think I can pick out what I want.” Well, maybe, but why do you need a new CRM system? Is it really your CRM system that’s the problem? And so, the minute that you start to realize that people may not know what they don’t know, and they don’t know they have a problem, good sales people can create demand and get people to buy stuff, not because they tricked them but because they say, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that this was causing me a problem. I was unaware there was a higher level solution, and yes, I will buy this.” But you can’t do that when the customer doesn’t know what they don’t know.
I actually just wrote about this on Forbes four or five days ago. I used myself as an example. I bought something as simple as a (you’re going to laugh at me) Palm Pilot case about 10-12 years ago when my battery ran out when I ran into the store to get a charger. The person asked me if I wanted a case, and my case was brand new so I was getting pissed at him. Within five minutes I bought a new case. And I’ll let you go read that article on Forbes to find out how he got me to do that. He created demand I didn’t know I had. Everyone sells on demand reaction these days, and I’m about selling on demand creation.
Matt: We’re all looking for something that’s going to make our jobs easier, and sales people are no different. I fundamentally believe sales people have among the hardest if not the hardest job in most companies. Despite that, we’re all looking for something that’s going to make things faster and easier, we’re looking for shortcuts, we’re looking for the latest fad, we’re hoping that the new technology is going to help us. There are certainly new ideas, new fads, new channels and technology that helps. But I do think (just to summarize) new technology isn’t going to help, social selling isn’t going to do it. There are fundamentals around buyer-centric selling, and the discipline of getting the work done is the foundation for most sales people. Talk about that for just a second.
Jim: Yeah, I love what you said, and I think you nailed it. I’m not a big fan of jargon, but I think that’s a good one: buyer-centric selling. I don’t care how many software service tools you have. I don’t care how many of these new applications that you have to help your sales team be more efficient. If they’re unable to do effective discovery, if they’re unable to ask provoking questions, if they don’t have the knowledge base to dig into the processes of customers and how they do things, if they don’t know how to do what I call “sell to the gap” (that’s actually my next book), if they don’t know how to uncover the current state, understand what the future state could look like, what is the gap between the two and what is preventing them from getting there and have those consultative discussions, I don’t care what applications, I don’t care what tools you have at your disposal.
As much time as we spend trying to get into more of this quick fix stuff, I think we’re building more and more sales people who don’t know how to sell—intrinsically don’t know how to sell. And Mike Weinberg, gets it. He is a consummate salesmen. His books are phenomenal; you need to read ‘em. And so does Jill Conrath. Learn, people, that selling is truly, truly about consulting. I think another good book that our boys did over there at CEV, oh my God, Challenger Sale is another one you need to read because those are about true selling. That’s the way to go. Tools aren’t going to help you.
Matt: Absolutely. I want to thank our guest today, Jim Keenan, CEO of A Sales Guy Consulting, author of Not Taught. Jim gave us a lot of great people to listen to; some additional great books to follow but definitely make sure you get a copy of Not Taught by Jim Keenan. You can find it on Amazon.com. You can read some great summaries up at A Sales Guy. Jim, thanks very much for being with us today.
Jim: My pleasure. Man this was a blast. You did a great job!
Matt: Awesome. Well thank you very much. We are out of time. I want to thank everyone again for joining us again. We are going to be live on January 21st at 1:00. If you want to check out this episode again you can go to salespipelineradio.com. If you want to see a transcript of this episode you can get that in about a week on HeinzMarketing.com. Until a couple weeks from now, this is Matt Heinz. This has been Sales Pipeline Radio.