By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
I hope by now you’ve tuned in live to Sales Pipeline Radio (Thursdays 11:30 am PST) or have subscribed on iTunes. I think you’ll get a lot out of the show. It’s quick and chock full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales and marketing pros.
We focus on sales development and inside sales priorities and have a lot of fun in the process. For this episode we are honored to have Joe Hyland, CMO at ON24. Listen in and/or read our conversation below.
Jill Konrath’s career is defined by her relentless search for fresh strategies that actually work in today’s sales world.
Listen in to hear how someone with a Bachelors in Education ended up getting into sales, let alone becoming a keynote speaker in one of the world’s preeminent sales office.
Your Crazy-Busy Buyer: How to Break Through, Build Value & Get the Sale
Paul: Welcome aboard, it’s time to grab your board. Figure out if you can swim out into the sea of ideas and catch one of those waves curling up the new Sales Pipeline perhaps. With our host, Matt Hines.
Matt: How we doin’ Paul?
Paul: I’m good. You know, I read somewhere that they’re looking for a new superhero. With the success of Black Panther, they’re trying’ to find some new superheroes, and that there was some conversation about turning Matt Hines into the new Marvel superhero character, something, Sales Pipeline Man or something, I don’t know.
Matt: If that’s true, someone needs to be fired. That sounds like a terrible idea. Marketing superhero, mega mark, I don’t know. Maybe there are more creative people than me that can figure that out.
Paul: Yeah. I think it’s a combination of the Silver Surfer and the Hulk. It’s kind of like both of these here.
Matt: Have you seen the Black Panther yet?
Paul: I have not, but my daughter has seen it twice and took my grandson and he just loved it.
Matt: Yeah. I’ve heard great things. I’m not a big comic book guy, but I’ve heard it’s a really just, visually it’s a great movie, just a great story. Yeah, I think that when you can take a movie like that, I think that’s part of the job, to make it so that it’s interesting to those that know the story, but also interesting to people like us that aren’t necessarily reading all the comic books.
Paul: Exactly. And I think it ties in to your guest today because the social selling they did of that film was phenomenal. People were so pumped up through social media to go see this thing way before it even came out.
Matt: Well, it’s amazing what we’ve seen over the last few years with the ability, not just through social, but just to build a ground swell of interest beyond just your traditional advertising. I think one of the first examples of sort of a great word of mouth campaign for a movie that ended up being a fantastic case study not only for the word of mouth potential, but also for the fact that that cannot make up for a crappy movie was for the campaign around Snakes on a Plane and I don’t know if you saw the movie Snakes on a Plane, but you know, you would think that a Samuel L Jackson doing a movie with Snakes on a Plane, like that’s just got so much potential. It was a terrible movie, but it got such a high amount of buzz and the media value of the buzz that it got was just unbelievable.
Paul: Well, because it really just grew out of a joke almost on social media and then they made a movie because it wasn’t really, as I understand, it wasn’t a real movie and it was just sort of something somebody was playing around with this thing and it grew in such interest that they thought, I guess we gotta make a movie and they rushed it into production before they really even had thought it through.
Matt: Well, it’s basically a free focus group, right of people out there that demand something, that want something and they’re willing to pay for it once it gets created. Pretty impressive and lots of lessons for marketers.
Well, here we are again, Paul. We’ve got a guest today I’m very excited to have, who’s probably wondering what the heck she got herself into. What have we done the last couple of weeks … we got college football, we have Curling a couple of weeks ago and that was a fun conversation. Today a little bit of Snakes on a Plane, but hey thanks very much everyone for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. We are here every week at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern live on the Lead Funnel Media Network. We are available on the iTunes and the Google Play. Our podcast is available on demand on salespipelineradio.com. All past, present and future episodes and every week we’re featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing and today is no different.
I am so excited to have our guest today and I will say this, and Paul you can back me up, I don’t say this about all of our guests. I mean we’ve done 105 episodes or so. I’ve been looking forward to this one for the past 104. Jill Konrath is joining us today. Keynote speaker, best selling author, just overall great person. Just super excited to have you here. Thanks, Jill so much for joining us today.
Jill Konrath: I’m glad to be here, Matt, but I think you should have the bald panther as your superhero name.
Matt: Oh my gosh. That is fantastic. See, like what did I tell you. Someone smarter than me had to sort of take that and go for that. The Bald Panther could really be something. I like that a lot. Well, we’ll save that conversation for another time, but I want to talk about a lot of the work that you have done in the sales community over the last several years. The books you’ve written, the impression you’ve made, and the impact you’ve had on people selling and B2B, like all over the world. Just incredible.
My first question, though and I feel like I can ask this because I’m a marketing guy who has a degree in journalism. How does someone with a Bachelors in Education end up getting into sales, let alone becoming a keynote speaker in one of the world’s preeminent sales office?
Jill Konrath: Well, what one does is come up with an idea for a company, put together a business plan, go to the service corp of retired executives, SCORE, present the business plan and have the retired VP of Marketing from General Mills say, this is really a good plan and it’s timely, and I roped a couple of other friends into my business concept and then he looked at the three of us and said, now, which one of you three is going to be doing the sales? And I looked at him in horror and I said, I thought you said this was a good idea? And he said, it is, Jill, but somebody has to sell it.
Matt: That’s a great story. Well, everything starts somewhere and I think, I mean I’ve heard you on stage talk about your career and sales and over the last several years you’ve written a number of best-selling books on sales strategy, including, I mean literally some of my favorites. Agile Selling, Snap Selling, one of your first books or one of the first books that I read of yours, Selling to Big Companies, and what I appreciate about your perspective is it is rooted in reality. You speak the language of, I think normal people that are trying to manage people hitting their number and so it becomes powerful, but also practical and applicable to folks. Is that an intentional style for you, or is that something that’s just evolved over time?
Jill Konrath: Well, I think if I had to say what does my style entail? Number one, it starts with a problem. It always starts with a problem and in every case and every book I’ve written it started with a problem that I faced. And when I face it initially, I get really discouraged and I bat my head against the wall and say, oh I’m so stupid. I can’t figure it out and then I finally realize that it’s not just my problem, but other people are struggling with that issue, too. And then I go to work and it becomes like a puzzle to me and how to solve it. So, I actually dig in and wrestle with the material myself until I can figure out what works today. You know, and then, again I guess because I do come from teaching roots it’s real important for me to make it easy for people to understand.
Matt: Yeah. I think that makes sense and I think not only the work you do in the books, but when you do keynotes, when you do workshops, you really bring this to life. I mean, I will always remember and I tell this story a lot. One of the things you’ve done with the idea of the crazy, busy seller is, you know and I’ve seen you do it a few different times where you play the target on stage and you’re at your desk with a phone and you designate people in the audience to play different roles and it’s hilarious. It’s really entertaining and it’s funny, but it also, it really brings to life just the people selling into it. It think it’s easy for us to forget what we’re selling. What we have, our product and service is the most important thing in the world and we can’t imagine why people aren’t going to just lay down everything they’re doing and want to talk to us about it. But, the reality is that’s not what we’re selling into.
Talk a little bit about, not only the crazy, busy buyer, but also how important it’s been for you to have sort of that skit, so to speak when you talk just to bring it to life and help, and help people understand and really sort of viscerally feel the point of the book.
Jill Konrath: Yeah, it’s funny because it’s something I struggled with for a while because once I recognized that having our buyers being so overwhelmed with work and you know, just struggling to get through the day and get everything done, and again it was a problem I faced. One of my best customers stopped returning my calls. You know, I struggled with that issue for a long time until I could figure out what it took to capture their attention and ultimately keep their attention.
But, when I explain to people initially that your buyers are busy they go, yeah, yeah, I know. I know. Yeah, yeah. I know. I know. Everybody’s busy these days, but … and I’d say what have you done to change what you’re doing? And they’d say, well, I’m just going to have to make more calls, I guess. I just have to work harder and that didn’t feel right to me. You know, I mean there’s gotta be something that changes, and so what I realized that in order to have sellers really, truly understand what it was like from their buyer’s side I needed to take that into their office, and I couldn’t do it in reality.
So that’s why I started doing improv role plays, where I played the role of the buyer, so they could literally see what was happening and I have people in the audience or other people that are in the training session role play my colleagues just showing a morning in the life of Jill Konrath, the crazy busy buyer. Then, typically at the end of the role play, if I’m doing a training session what I will do is I will have people call and leave me a voicemail message. You know, and I’ll listen to the voicemail and I’ll listen to seven or eight voicemails from the people in the audience and I’ll hang up as soon as I get bored with their message. And it’s like it’s total shock to these people that I hung up on them.
Like, if they say hi, this is Jill Konrath. I’m the account rep for Leap Frog Strategies. I just yell out, delete. And they go, well, why did you delete me, you know. I mean, they couldn’t understand it, but I’d say wait a minute. You just saw what was happening in my office, you know. I don’t care, you know you said your name and your company. I’m not interested in that right now. I’ve got some other problems that have to be solved. You know, so I had to break through people’s perceptions that they could just keep doing what they were doing. It was like, no. When people are this busy, you have to fundamentally shift how you do things in order to peak your curiosity, make them stop and listen and actually then respond to you and say, hey I’m interested in learning more.
Matt: We’ve got Jill Konrath today on Sales Pipeline Radio. You can check more out about Jill at jillkonrath.com. She’s got a ton of great resources. A lot of free sales resources on her website including links to all of her great books and I think it’s a hard lesson to learn and it’s hard to sustain that. I talk to a lot of sales teams, or a lot of marketing teams in our case, and I know you do as well, just that have so much to say and fell like they need more time to share a particular story and I often tell people, listen you don’t earn the right to tell your story until you show that you care about them and their story first. But when they don’t know who you are and when you’re coming in cold, you only have a couple of seconds to get their attention.
Someone told me once and maybe I heard this from you. You know, when you’re leaving a voicemail you have just a couple of seconds to get someone to stop typing. People are multi-tasking as they listen to voicemails. Talk about how that has evolved for you into, you know, you wrote the book Agile Selling as sales reps not only, sort of adapt what they’re doing to that crazy, busy buyer, but also sort of adopt the way they’re selling into the way that buyers are engaging with information and learning today.
Jill Konrath: You know, one thing I always try to stress with people is that they really need to stop and think about what they’re doing and they need to strive for maximum impact in every single customer interaction and that customer interaction may be a 20 second email message. Maybe a 60 word, or 20 second phone message, a 60 word email message, you know, but what can you do to have the maximum impact and I think way too many people in sales just say, make more, do more, send more, have more meetings. But, to me the smartest thing to do is ensure that every single interaction provides some value and moves you toward things. And I always try to work with people who, now wait a minute. You just sent out this message. You’re getting no response.
Well, maybe you ought to look at what you’re saying, you know there are lots of different ways to change up what you’re doing and so I really try to get people to move into experimental mode. Like, there’s no right way. What we need to find is a better way. It’s always better, better, better. What can we do to get a higher response rate? How can we, I mean I think research shows that a huge percentage of initial meetings never turn into follow up meetings, you know. Finally, you’ve got a meeting with a client or a prospect. I mean, this is a moment in gold. It’s taken you so long to get here.
What do you need to do to have the best meeting, you know? And where do you need to start? How do you rope them in? What questions do you need to be asking? How can you put it together in a sequence that moves it along? You know, what do you need to do to get them to move to the next step? I mean, people should be thinking all the time about this. Not just thinking that sales is about me talking about my stuff and convincing you. There’s no convincing anybody to buy. It’s all about movement and it’s about being the best at every interaction.
Matt: So, real quick before we have to take a quick commercial break here. I think, you know I love what you’re saying and I think that there’s an awful lot of organizations that have their sales playbook. They have the way that they sell and I think sometimes the idea of being agile and testing those new things, if I’m a rep I may get in trouble for suggesting something that’s outside of the playbook. What advice can you give to reps as well as to the managers to those reps to really sort of balance what is sort of maybe a consistent process with the need to continue to adapt?
Jill Konrath: What I would suggest is to focus on experimentation, saying this is our playbook. Let’s see if we can make it better and sometimes one rep who’s got an idea, I think should go to the manager and say, I’ve got this idea. I think it might work. Can I test it? Can I experiment with it for a certain period of time? Can we get some data to see if this might be a little bit better? I think you can have team challenges where people spend a week trying something different to see if they can get new approaches. I think just because we have the process down does not mean it’s the best process. It might be a good process, but there’s gotta be ways that you can make it better. Gotta be ways.
Matt: Absolutely. We’re gonna take a quick commercial break. We gotta pay some bills. We’ll be back in a couple of minutes with more with Jill Konrath, author, speaker of a number of books including Agile Selling, Snap Selling. We’re gonna be talking a little more about the concept. We’re sitting here at the sales hacker conference, Paul we’re gonna figure out whether sales hacking and growth hacking has a place in modern selling. We’re gonna talk a little about women in sales. Jill wrote a blog post called How to Sell Like a Girl a couple of years ago that kind of sparked a movement and we’re gonna talk a little bit about that as well. We’ll be back in just a couple of minutes. You’re listening to Sales Pipeline Radio.
Matt: Really more from my guest today. We’ve got Jill Konrath, who’s author, speaker, sales expert extraordinaire on Sales Pipeline Radio today. If you like our conversation with Jill, if you want to share some of her insights with some of your peers and colleagues, I encourage you to get a copy of this episode of Sales Pipeline Radio on SalesPipelineRadio.com. They are on demand, this episode will be there in a couple of days.
Coming up in our future, next couple of weeks, Sales Pipeline Radio next week we’re gonna feature Manny Medina. He is the CEO of Outreach, a sales engagement sales acceleration firm. We’re gonna talk about the role of technology with sales teams and I really have a question. Can you trust your sales team with technology? And I think to a certain extent I don’t know how you can sell today without technology, but you gotta put it in the right context and make sure you’re using it appropriately to really follow a lot of the best practices we’re talking about here today with Jill Konrath.
You know, Jill one question before we get into a couple of other topics here. You’ve developed just an amazing personal brand in this space. I mean you’ve got over 350,000 followers on Linkedin alone. You’re just constantly in demand on the road. You also have been very diverse in the content you create. You know, you’ve written books. You write a regular blog. You use video extensively, as well. Question for you around, has building a personal brand been part of your strategy? Is that an objective? Do you see that as a means to, you know the business that you’re driving? How do you think about building your personal brand?
Jill Konrath: I think more about having an impact if that makes sense and I want my methods, I want my ideas to be out there having a greater impact on people’s business and in order for me to achieve that end goal, it became important to become a visible person. You know, I could have the greatest ideas in the world, but if nobody knew about them and I wasn’t a go to person then it didn’t matter. I couldn’t achieve my overall goal and I remember the first time I launched my second website because I started out and I launched my company website and then I came up with an idea to launch a website called Selling to Big Companies and it was back in like 2002 and I spent six months, really full time because I was setting up all these things for small businesses to help them sell to the corporate market and I launched the website. And the day I launched the website I went, oh my god. I have just created an incredible resource and not one person in the world knows it exists.
When you realize that, you go, oh my god I have to step up and become visible out there. And so, it was part of a means of achieving an end goal of having a greater impact.
Matt: Well, I think you’ve done a great job. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about your content and the way that you share and promote it is it’s all clearly tied to you, but the content is, it’s not about you, it’s about the content and I think … so, the idea that you are … and the approach to be valuable and to be sharing and to bring value to your audience, it clearly comes through.
I wanted to talk about something I know is important to you. You know, the idea of increasing the role and volume of women in sales and I think a couple of years ago there was a Super Bowl commercial. It was sort of like a blank like a girl kind of campaign and I think it was focused on the idea of sort of empowering women in a variety of different contexts. You know, I think the historical connotation of doing something like a girl has in many cases been seen as negative, seen as a weakness. You wrote a blog post, I think the headline was something like, I sell like a girl and I’m proud of it. That went viral very quickly and I think there has been a significant amount of discussion around women in sales. How to elevate the role of women in sales. How to help develop more women sales leaders. Why is that something that’s been so important to you and I mean it was a couple of years ago at least. Have we made progress? What else do we need to be doing to keep this prominent?
Jill Konrath: Well, I think the most important thing that people ought to do is recognize that if their only sourcing from half of the demographics that are out there, they’re really missing the boat. You know, everybody’s looking for A players, but if you’re only looking at A players who happen to be male and say there’s just not enough women out there, you’re really missing an opportunity to capture a ton of talent that could be good. But, I think combined with that it’s like people are used to hiring people that are like them and so it’s an ongoing and continual battle to bring women in especially the tech industries and some industries women dominate. Hospitality, you know, medical has a lot of women in sales. Why is it such a continuous battle? Because women may not sell like the guys, but they sell really well and if you look at some of the statistics on it, women do out perform men on quota. Surprise, surprise.
For people who don’t think women can sell as well, they sell differently perhaps. And secondarily, they stay longer at a job and so if you’re a smart business person and you go, wait a minute. Here’s these people that perform, you know at least equivalent to the guys and their tenure is longer. I mean, it’s a big business decision to hire women. So, to me, you know it’s just an ongoing challenge because people hire people they’re comfortable with.
Matt: And Jill, you are a member of Women Sales Pros. If you want to learn more you can check out just womensalespros.com, which is not only an association of you and Lori Richardson and many others, some of the just brightest people in sales leadership. Not just women, just brightest people in sales leadership. Also, great resources up there. Lori Richardson and others have done a great job of really building resources for your organization to help recruit, to find recruits, to onboard, and really help promote the great women in sales that already are in sales today and then, you know help promote the future women leaders in sales as well.
Couple more questions before we wrap up here with Jill Konrath on Sales Pipeline Radio. I’m broadcasting on site today at what is called the Revenue Summit. It’s a one day event here in San Francisco. It’s run by a company called Sales Hacker, and I know you’re familiar with these guys and I want to raise the idea of just hacking in sales and marketing. Like, we hear people say, I’m sales hacking and in marketing we hear people say, I’m a growth hacker. And I think what that translates into is I am twisting the dials on a daily basis and I’m doing little things to try to, I don’t know cheat the system or do things in a more agile way. I think that there is alignment with that around the idea of agile selling, but how do you think about sort of the hacker, quote, unquote movement and how does that, how should that play a role in sort of proactive sales and marketing management moving forward?
Jill Konrath: Well, I mean I do think always tweaking the dial is really the important thing for people to be doing because that’s the process of getting better and finding out what works. But, I would like to also tackle the fact of the whole thing of technology because you know there’s a lot of technology, and I think a lot of it is really good. I think, though that we are missing the boat on some things that may be even more important and gives better results.
In my most recent book, which is More Sales, Less Time I talk about the distraction caused by technology and how it’s really, really causing people to, A, take longer to get anything done and the whole day is a bunch of jumping from task to task, which really negates some of the gains that you can get from the added technology. But, also how it really negatively impacts your ability to think clearly, be strategically creative and do things that really help you stand out in a highly competitive marketplace. And to me, research shows that the average human being who is a sales type of person can save an hour or two a day just by taking a look at how they’re working. How they’re working. And what they’re doing that may be really hurting their ability to be successful.
Matt: Jill, you mentioned at the beginning when we talked about some of your books and where the ideas have come from that you start with questions and problems. What are some of the questions and problems you’re wrestling with right now, and I don’t mean you to give away sort of what some of the next topics of books are looking like. But, what are the, you know because we’re in 2018. We’re sort of in the middle of Q1 right now. What are the questions that are rattling around in your head these days?
Jill Konrath: Well, my questions are really kind of personal right now in terms of what do I want to be when I grow up. And I’m already grown up from an age perspective, but I just, I mean I always like to be continuously learning, so I’m actually in a phase where I’m trying to find out what my next challenge is gonna be because I gotta work on a challenge. I’ve gotta work on something that’s meaty and tough. You know, I’m doing some advisory stuff with some boards of some companies right now that have got some really cool technology who I think are, are gonna be game changers. So, I may be moving more in some of that direction to get my hands dirty again. I mean, I really want to work.
Matt: Well, no matter what it is, definitely look forward to checking that out and you know, you continue to create great content on your site, Jillkonrath.com and you know, if you’re not reading her stuff and watching her videos, I highly encourage it. Especially for those of you listening that are on the marketing side of the fence. If you’re running demand gen. If you’re doing marketing operations. If you’re a CMO and you really want to understand sort of what’s pressing today with your sales leaders and on the sales side of the business, I highly encourage you to check out Jill. In the vein of learning, you know one of the questions we always ask people at the end of the show is who are some of the people that you have learned from over the years? The people that have been really most instructive in sort of the education of Jill Konrath on sales. It could be people that are dead or alive. It can be mentors. It can be authors. But, who are some of the people that have really sort of guided you along the way?
Jill Konrath: Oh, wow. That really depends on what I’m doing in life. I spent a phase of my career where I was actively involved with my daughter’s Destination Imagination program. I spent eight years coaching a creative, problem solving team and I spent a ton of time immersing myself in creativity and innovation and no one particular thing.
I was like, I was like a sponge for learning everything about creativity and innovation and then most recently I’ve been involved in learning about neuroscience and David Rock has a great book called Your Brain at Work, but that’s just one of the many neuroscience books that are out there. There’s one Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind, Thinking Fast and Slow. You know, there’s all sorts of things there that tell us how we are as human beings, which I think affects us as sellers and affects us as buyers, too. And so, I am a glutton for learning. It’s like one of my greatest strengths and perhaps one my biggest weaknesses, but there’s so much good stuff out there. I mean I have a stack of books right next to me right now and it’s about a foot and a half high.
Matt: Not surprising at all. You know, I think there is something for sure that we see in many of the experts that we have on the show that they are constantly curious. Constantly reading. Constantly learning. Constantly asking interesting questions. And constantly struggling through those, and I think that’s what makes life interesting. That’s what makes, I think that’s what makes people like you and others so good at what you do and so inspirational to others.
So, we are unfortunately out of time. We’re gonna have to wrap up here. This episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Many, many thanks. I know she’s crazy busy herself as well as her buyers, but Jill Konrath, author, speaker. Definitely check her out at jillkonrath.com. Thank you so much for joining us.
Make sure you get an episode. Get this episode and all future episodes of Sales Pipeline Radio on demand and salespipelineradio.com. We will have an edited transcript of this conversation with Jill up on heinzmarketing.com here in a couple of days.
Join us next week. 11:30 Pacific. 2:30 Eastern. Every week here on Sales Pipeline Radio. We got to go. For my great producer, Paul. This is Matt Hines. Thanks again for listening today on Sales Pipeline Radio.