Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 256: Q & A with Jamie Shanks @jamietshanks
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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Join the conversation as we discuss how social selling has evolved and matured as part of selling in general, the importance of process and systems to make self-prospecting and self-pipeline production successful for reps today, and productivity and output improvements from companies that are just smiling and dialing, versus organizations and sellers that are using signals.
Matt: Welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. My name is Matt Heinz coming to you live from… This isn’t Heinz Marketing headquarters. This is just the basement of my house today, but this is how we get to work now. Jamie’s stuck in Canada for forever. We’ll get to that, but thank you very much for joining us for another episode. If you are watching us live on YouTube, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, all the channels, thanks so much for joining us in the middle of your workday. If you’re watching this on demand, thanks very much for catching up with us. All of our episodes from the last couple months, as we’ve transitioned to this LinkedIn live format available on demand LinkedIn Live. Also, every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio in audio format still available past, present, and future on salespipelineradio.com. Check them out. And if you are watching us live on LinkedIn today, we will be watching the comments.
If you have questions for our guest today, questions on the topics, even comments, if you want to complement our guest’s hair, those are the things that we can put right up to the front of the line. So if you want to put those in there, we’ve got you there as well. I want to quickly thank our sponsor for Sales Pipeline Radio. Very excited to have Vidyard joining us as a sponsor this summer. Another Canadian company. It’s Canada Day on Sales Pipeline Radio, Jamie.
Vidyard for those that aren’t yet using it, it’s an easy-to-use video solution, making it easy to create videos, host them ad free, share them with others, and track their performance. We are a Vidyard customer ourselves. My assistant is a Vidyard power user. She no longer sends written emails; she sends videos explaining things. It works way better. Lots of great integrations with other enterprise tools you use as well. Check them out, vidyard.com/pipeline, and you can get a free high conversion virtual sales playbook. So, thanks again to our sponsor Vidyard. Today, very excited to have… We’re going to get into a little origin story. Because whenever I think Jamie Shanks, I think cocktails in Dallas, and we’ll get there too, but Jamie Shanks, CEO of Sales for Life, also now CEO of Pipeline Signals. Jamie, thanks, joining.
Jamie: Thank you, and there are a lot of worst places to be trapped in the world then Canada.
Matt: And you mentioned you literally have been spending the last year and a half at your cottage, with good Wi-Fi, you can pretty much do the same thing as we can all do from anywhere, pretty awesome. So, let’s start there. I mean the last year and a half, a little different, you’re a guy who every time I would see you on social, you’re in a different part of the world, not just the country. Sort of when lots of people say that they were the godfather of social selling, you were there at the start. I’m giving you that credit. But what’s the last year and a half been like for you, navigating through this with your family and your business?
Jamie: Well just to give your listeners some context, for five years in a row before the pandemic I was on 80 flights a year, and 44 countries around the world, and we pioneered or either pirated the word social selling, and have the global kind of curriculum and training on that topic.
And so I remember we were skiing in British Columbia, and the pandemic hit the shores of North America, and it kicked everyone who was skiing around North America off the ski Hills, basically on the same day. And so we had to fly home, and I live in Toronto Canada, so on the east coast. We were on the flight home, and I turned to my wife, and I said, “Why are we going back to our city house, when we’re trying to avoid people? Why don’t we go up to the cottage for a weekend?” And now 18 months later, I’m still at the cottage.
Matt: Hey you know what? It’s not a bad thing. And I think in business, in life, certainly wish that we wouldn’t have the economic and health impact that COVID has had, but it’s not very often we get to control, alt, delete on our lives, and sort of really have an opportunity to reset. And as we come back out of it, and whatever that fashion looks like, to decide what you want to let back in, to decide what the priorities are moving forward.
We were talking before we started the show. I mean you and I are in similar boats, have traveled a lot, have families, have other things that are priorities, and coming out of this just gives you an opportunity to say what’s most important? What do you really want to spend your time on? Time and place. Where do you want to spend your time going?
Jamie: Yeah, and I heard my son kind of mutter something to a friend up at the cottage about six months in, and it really hit a chord with me. He didn’t realize I was standing there, but he said, “I didn’t really know my daddy before.” My son’s eight. “And I didn’t really know my daddy.” Because think about it that’s five years of his eight-year life I traveled, but he said, “I love having him around.” And in that timeframe my son went from never water skiing, to now a competitive water skier who has his first competition next weekend. And those are just some of the little things where it gave me an opportunity. Yes I’m still pounding out 12 hour days, five and a half days a week. But in between calls, I step on the boat, take the kids skiing. I get to do things that I… The work-life intersect that I have now, I’m not going to trade back for the road.
Matt: Yeah, well good for you, and congratulations on that.
I think there’s certainly things you give up when you don’t eventually get back on a plane, or if you say, “Listen I’m working 12 hours, I want to work nine, I want to work eight, I want to work something normal, so I can have more of that time for myself or my family.”
When you say no to that work, you say yes to something else. When you say yes to that time with your kids on the boat, that time with your kids at the cottage, you’re saying no to something else as well. And I think that that trade off… I don’t know, I mean there’s money to be had on the road, but what’s it worth for you to spend that time with your son, and to have that time with the people that mean the most to you. So, I know we got a lot to cover today, but for me it’s still a journey still figuring that out, but I’m thankful for the reset, thankful for the opportunity to [inaudible 00:05:56].
Jamie: I was able to quantify it. So, my speaking engagement side, so if you look at Sales for Life’s revenue line item, we did a quarter million dollars a year in speaking and workshops. So it was 10% of our revenue. And so yeah 10% of any company’s revenue was a bit of a line item, and we’re going to get into this. What spun out of that, was we developed a second company. We re-engineered all of our people process and technology, we were able to work on our business in ways I hadn’t been able to in five years because I was gone.
Matt: Yeah. Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Jamie Shanks, he’s the founder and CEO of Sales for Life. We don’t have to argue about who created social selling because probably no one did, but you have been there since the beginning, and I think were one of the starting evangelists of the category. You wrote the book Social Selling Mastery, and have created a lot of what had become sort of best practices, and quite frankly table stakes for modern digital sellers.
I remember I think we were talking about this back at that cocktail table in Dallas, that social selling was kind of a big deal, but I felt like it was going to reach a point in maturity when we really stopped calling it social selling, and it was just part of digital selling. I feel like we have made more of that migration. I think ABM is now kind of in that same kind of weird place. Talk about what you have seen on the front lines. How has social selling evolved and matured as part of selling in general?
Jamie: Yeah, so my average buyer was the chief revenue officer, head of sales enablement, head of sales ops. And when we kind of pioneered this word social selling, we’ll call it from the years 2012 to 2017. Every demo, every discovery call was a why. Why would I do this? Why should I evolve? Then, as LinkedIn Sales Navigator became a primary tool within the tech stack of sales teams, we started to notice a bit of an inflection point where companies were now hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars deep in a tool like this, but now their utilization rates were poor, sellers didn’t really know how to leverage it with any sort of performance. So it was now moving into the how, and in the last two years or so since COVID, any company who four years ago told us, “You know what? This is nice to have, don’t think we need to shift.” We started getting calls like this overnight saying, “Oh my God, my sellers haven’t created a lead in 60 days, 90 days, 180 days.” They don’t know how to fish, because the skill of fishing was… BDR would pump them a meeting, AE would fly in do their demo, that whole model just got broken. We need a whole new go to market on sales generated pipeline at scale.
So recently it’s very much that while a lot of sales organizations took their field sellers, and just turned them into BDRs overnight out of happenstance of the reality of COVID, those people do not have the skills and capabilities to drive sales pipeline. So that the biggest change, to answer your question a long winded way, no one’s even calling it social selling, or virtual, or digital, or modern selling anymore. They’re looking at the root problem. The root problem is my sellers are not sales, or self-generating their own pipeline, and I need to fix them.
Matt: Yeah, and the answer isn’t necessarily give them more phone numbers to call, and just sort of do more activities. Because I think you can get anybody to come in and just do more activities, like make the activity number look good. But who are you calling? Who are you talking to? What conversations are you having, and why are you having that today versus last week, versus next week? So, I guess a couple of questions coming out of that, how important is the process and systems to make self-prospecting, self-pipeline production successful for reps today?
Jamie: So over eight years we ended up certifying a quarter million sellers. To become certified in our program, it’s a simple process. It’s a business case where a seller learns these skills, and then they have to apply it in market where they select, plan, engage and create a real-life opportunity, and then defend it in a video case study, and then document their journey. So, when you start reverse engineering a quarter million opportunities created, you start to notice there’s patterns. The pattern that started to form was primarily most of the opportunities created had what’s called a signal attached to it. And the signals came in three categories. There was either buying intent, there was greater workload consumption or product usage, or there was compelling events. So compelling events have three sub categories. There is a relationship roadmap, advocate goes from company A to company B.
There is a time in maturity event, company raises capital, there’s a new CSIL put in place, a company doubles their marketing department and then there’s competitive intelligence, which is almost like the inverse. You’re talking about yellow flags and red flags now. So not just looking at where should I spend my time? But where maybe do I mitigate my risk? And so, where do our competitors have asymmetrical competitive advantages? A lot of that data sits in tools like LinkedIn, there’s other tools like BuiltWith and so forth, that was giving sellers in the public domain the information to make informed decisions. And so, the process is understanding, it’s a mindset shift of course first, but it’s the process of mining that intelligence that aids the seller in account selection and prioritization.
Matt: Well, I mean it’s more than just having that as a function of personalizing your follow-up, I think. It kind of changes the entire paradigm of what makes for a good lead. We don’t need people to fill out forms to become a good lead. You can say, “I know what companies I should be selling to. I know the people I should be talking to, how do I manufacturer or find, and then leverage and follow up with those right intent signals.” So, I mean what’s interesting is this conversation, marketers are having this every day, like marketers that are doing account-based marketing, or just doing sort of modern intent-based selling, are using tools like 6thSense and Demandbase, and others to improve the discipline and precision of their marketing. And I’m even seeing companies that are taking tools like 6thSense and saying, “Okay, now let’s apply this purely to our sales team. Let’s give the sales team, LinkedIn sales navigator, ZoomInfo, intent signals.” So, to be able to use that on the sales side, talk a little bit about what you’re seeing in terms of productivity and output improvements from those that are just smiling and dialing, versus organizations and sellers that are using signals now.
Jamie: Yeah, so if I’m a seller, I have what’s called a market or a total addressable market. And inside my basket it’s primarily broken up three different ways. I either have a geographic focus, I have a verticalized focus, or they’ve given me named accounts because these are big sexy logos that I need to focus on. So however, that’s being segmented, let’s assume that that’s more than three accounts. Let’s call that 25, 50, 100, time is my biggest Achilles heel, or it could be my competitive advantage. And this is a great study done by Topo, of the 50% of sellers that don’t make their quota. You could say that 83.4% of those sellers not making quota, it’s because of poor time management. So if you look deeper into that, what’s happening is sellers have a basket. They have a choice, 50 accounts, where do I focus my time? And if I spent that calling each one, once a day, 50 days, call them A through Z, call them by color codes. That’s not a strategy. And so, what buying intent has done is helped, it’s one piece to a puzzle, it’s helped the seller segment their accounts based on order of operations. If I’m going to look at those 50 accounts and figure out what are the five I should really focus in on, who are the ones that are raising their hand? Googling the right words, have people interested in what we’re saying? So that’s an incredible data set.
The challenge is inside your buyer, or known as your ICP, that might be one person of 10 that make up the buying committee. So what we’re also looking at is the flip side of that called the compelling event. What are the macro and micro things happening to the people within that business? That are changing priorities in that business. And that’s typically tied to human capital. People make priorities right? People bring priorities with them into a new business, they take them when they leave, they grow departments, they deploy capital, is a leading indicator to the way that they prioritize things in a business. Like if I doubled my marketing department, obviously the company is prioritizing marketing. So it’s complementing buying intent intelligence with compelling event intelligence to help the seller again fill in puzzle pieces, as to where to spend their time.
Matt: And to do that consistently, to do that at scale, it’s one thing to say, “Hey listen, I’m going to go do a search on LinkedIn, and look for certain signals that I feel like I can follow up with.” Let’s say you’ve got 20 sellers, and you want them to be doing this on a regular basis, I’m giving you a softball here Jamie for Pipeline Signals. Because I think it’s a smart way of saying, “Okay, we’ve got this training and certification program to help organizations understand why they should be doing this and understand where to look for.” It’s a whole other thing to say, “Where do I get all this? Like where do I get these signals? How do I make sure I’m feeding my organization with the grist for this mill to make it successful?” So, talk a little bit about why, sort of how that works, and sort of the origin story then of Pipeline Signals, which it looks it was pretty shiny brand new, like two months old or so right?
Jamie: Yeah, so when I was a kid, I used to watch my parents play lob ball, and lob ball is where they throw the ball way up in the air, and then the batter just has to hit a ball that’s basically dropping out of the sky, so thank you, you just threw me a lob ball. So essentially what we were watching for eight years as a training company, is we were giving people the skills to monitor their own total addressable market for these compelling events. Challenge, if I am the head of sales operations, or marketing operations and I noticed that I do not have a hundred percent utilization of my LinkedIn navigator account. I have a kink in the armor. That means that portions of my TAM are not being monitored. So, when COVID happened my business partner Omar and I looked at Sales for Life, and we said, “We want to launch other businesses, there’s a managed service here.” And so why we created it is your sales team, as your audience is sales teams, you’re not paying sellers to be researchers, you’re paying for outcomes.
But research is a by-product of what is necessary to make informed decisions. So all that we did was create a managed service that does this with and on behalf of your team. So, your team draws a box around what its total addressable market is that it can be geographic, could be named accounts, verticalized, or a very specific list of accounts and we become you. We partner to drop in to LinkedIn, to identify signals in those accounts, and then partner with your sellers in a workflow, primarily that work flows through your own CRM, to say, “Here is a new chief information security officer, they meet your ideal customer profile and you should be talking to them before your competition.” Or, “Somebody just left your best customer in marketing, and they’re now the CMO of this company. When you want to know about that, give them a call.” And we’re doing what is called a global command center. It’s every account in the world, it’s meaningful to you, you have a centralized system to monitor it all, rather than leave it to your sellers to mine that intelligence on your behalf, and hope and pray that they do it.
Matt: So, this may not be a lob ball. This may be hitting the ball for you, but I think what you just described, taking the 10 signals out of that equation and add back in just appointments. And there’s all these companies that are sort of your outsource BDR, that are your appointment setters, like I’m hiring a call center to call my prospects and try to set up meetings for my AEs. A meeting in and of itself may not be that interesting. You shoehorn someone into a 30 minute conversation that they did or didn’t know that they wanted to have, with a topic and a reason and rationale that may be obtuse at best. As opposed to taking that haystack and finding the needles on a regular basis, and teeing up those conversations. Is this something that can eventually be automated? Is it still disparate information that is still like needles in a lot of places that needs human interaction? Where do you think that opportunity is going?
Jamie: Yeah so, our team, this is a service done by humans, and it’s done by humans because it requires context. It requires the mining and sifting through this intelligence to determine what year…I’ll give you an example, Heinz best customer is Microsoft in Seattle, because you live in Seattle right? What years has Microsoft been a customer? Well who were the people within Microsoft, or the departments that you dealt with? If people leave that department, where do they go? And then do they meet your future ideal customer profile? That requires a partner. And so we then become an extension of you, as your lead development rep, your business development rep, and feed that intelligence to your BDRs, your inside sales teams, your customer success team. Think about upsell, cross sell and protecting the core. Who’s going in and out of your customer base every day? Wouldn’t you want to know? Are they competitors? Are they friends or foe? That’s essentially the way to look at it.
Matt: Love it. Just a couple more minutes here with our guest today Jamie Shanks, he’s the CEO of Sales for Life, as well as the CEO of the freshly minted Pipeline Signals.
Jamie where can more people learn from you. I know you’ve got Social Selling Mastery. You produce a ton of content on LinkedIn. If people want to learn more about the topics we’ve covered today, where should they look?
Jamie: Yeah, first place look up Jamie Shanks. You’ll see a guy about as good looking as I am now as a photo on LinkedIn, connect with him, and he’ll guide you in the right spot. But essentially my two businesses, one teaches sellers how to fish, and one fishes for them. Sales for Life, the fishing company, Pipeline Signals is fishing for you, look up those websites, happy to help you in any way I can. And so we serve the sales community.
Matt: Yeah, love it. Well Jamie, I miss seeing you out in the world, it’s easy to catch Jamie when he’s out there, he’s always got just a beautiful sport coat and pocket square. One of the best dressed man.
Jamie: [inaudible 00:21:03] [crosstalk 00:21:03]. Sitting next to you.
Matt: No, no, no, no. Look I’m not even wearing a collar right now, so you’re one up on me again, but it’s all good, miss seeing you buddy. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Jamie: Awesome. Thanks for the invite.
Matt: Thanks everyone again for joining us. If you’ve enjoyed this conversation, if you have someone on your sales team that you think should be watching and listening to this as well, definitely check this out on demand, which will be available as soon as we stop this presentation on LinkedIn, in a couple of days it will be up on salespipelineradio.com, and where all good podcasts are found. Thanks again to our sponsors Vidyard, appreciate them being a contributor and a participant in the show, another Canadian. So Jamie’s out in the sticks in Canada, Vidyard a little further in, bigger sticks, slightly larger buildings.
Jamie: Still in the sticks, there in Kitchener.
Matt: There you go. So vidyard.com/pipeline, to get a copy of their high conversion virtual sales playbook. Thanks for much for joining. My name is Matt Heinz. We’ll see you next week on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Thank you to our sponsor, Vidyard. Vidyard is an easy-to-use video solution that makes it simple to create videos, host them ad-free, share them with others, and track their performance. Whether you’re recording a video for one person or sharing it with the world on your website, it’s easy to manage your video content. The solution offers robust analytics, integrations with top enterprise tools, and customization options. You can find them at vidyard.com/pipeline for a free High Conversion Virtual Sales Playbook.