This is part three of the conversation I had with Jamie.
In Part 3, Jamie and I talk about:
- Nurture paths
- Sales Rep’s Responsibility
- How far to go in building and maintaining relationships
- Ageism, sales, and technology
- The importance of your corporate culture
- Curiosity and sales success
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Connect with Jamie on LinkedIn
Jamie Shanks is the CEO of Sales for Life, the world’s largest Social Selling training program for mid-market and enterprise companies. Sales for Life has trained over 100,000 sales and marketing professionals, in dozens of industries. Jamie’s workshops have been delivered across 6 continents, for brands such as Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Oracle, American Airlines & Intel. He’s also the author of the best-selling book Social Selling Mastery & SPEAR Selling.
E129 – Transcript
Jason: Welcome to part three of my conversation with Jamie shanks. This is the sales experience podcast. My name again is Jason cutter. So glad you’re here. You’re joining me on this mission to help improve the way sales are done both for the sales experience that you have as a salesperson and the experience you’re giving to your customers and the way that you feel. And lastly, the way that sales is viewed as a whole by the world and shifting it from this thing that people are embarrassed to be called a salesperson to being something everyone is proud of because of the value it actually provides. And so I appreciate you being on this journey. Thank you for this. This is part three of my four parts with Jamie. So make sure you checked out the first two segments of our conversation cause we’re just jumping right in, edited where it’s just cut and then we’re going into part three to try to keep these episodes short. Again, you can go to cutterconsultinggroup.com find the transcript, show notes, all of Jamie’s links, everything there. Here it is. Part three,
Jamie: The account that they were targeting was being almost bombarded and assaulted by their competitors and their competitors had a far more greater traction relationship-wise than they had and they couldn’t figure out why the deal had stalled, installed. Installed relationships are at the core of decision making and so this is a simple play that an account executive should be doing to better prepare the insights they’re going to share. And then to kind of further that thought, now we’re getting into account engagement. Now a next step that sellers would take is, it’s exactly like drawing up when I, when I wrote a book or if you make a script to a movie, you actually storyboard your ideas in advance. You don’t just off the cuff start communicating, right? It’s the sitting down and planning with intent. What you’re going to say on the assumption you’re going to need a multitouch cadence and sequence, meaning you’re going to kind of talk to them on the first touch point and even if you did, so what?
Jamie: You’re going to need a nurture path and it’s you as the account executive that are responsible for developing this. So how do you sit down and start planning some insights that you can share, drip serve to this customer over time that’s going to push them off their status quo. There’s a simple quote by corporate visions and Forester. They did a study that found that 74% of deals are awarded to the sales professional. That’s first to provide value and insight and the deal meaning teach somebody something new and they’re going to want to come back to that person. And so it’s your responsibility to plan with intent, how you’re going to teach them along a journey. Um, and it’s not the marketing team’s responsibility. They’re your partner, your the account owner, they’re your partner to give you some of those insights. But you as the account executive have to do this.
Jason: And I’m so glad that you brought up the sales reps responsibility, the account owner of educating and teaching the customer something. And again that go B2B, B to C, any kind of customer is you provide value. Teach them something, you help them improve in way, whether it’s their business, their life, whatever that is. Uh, it’s funny cause I was listening to you talk and I was thinking, okay, and what about the sales rep level? And then you literally covered that. And I think that’s important for anyone listening to this who’s at the salesperson, the SDR, BDR account, executive sales person, whatever your title may be, is always focused. No matter what your sales cycle is, whether it’s a one call close where it’s an 18 month, you know, enterprise level deal with dozen stakeholders. Always provide value, always give some information, some knowledge. Focus. I’ve found for myself, my most success always comes when I focus on helping the prospect in their lives in any way that may or may not benefit me. And that’s not the goal, but I’m just literally helping them. And then that plants that seed and that builds a relationship because now it’s, I’m doing it because I care. I want them to be successful in whatever it is. And you know reciprocity is going to say that if it’s a good fit, they’re going to want to do business with me as well.
Jamie: I’ll tell you a story around, so I was in Beijing with general electric and I sat down at dinner with the chief marketing officer of a division and we were at dinner. I asked her a simple question, can you tell me a time where you had dealt with an incredible sales professional and or who’s the greatest sales professional you’ve ever met? It was just dinner conversation. Immediately. She had a story. She told me a story about a seller at Hewlett Packard enterprise in Singapore and on touch point number one that Hewlett Packard enterprise seller actually invited her to a marketing event in Hong Kong, so she flew down to Hong Kong, went to the event. It was not about Hewlett Packard, it was just like, here’s a marketing event I think you should go to. When she got back to the office, he had built a 12 month roadmap of all the major marketing events around the Asia Pacific market that she should go to to improve her Acument.
Jamie: As she was new to the business, nothing was about their product, their solution, and she said, I learned so much and if ever we have a challenge and I need a software, I am 100% bringing this person in to that RFP process because he thought about what my priorities were before his own priorities. And whenever you do these storyboarding, these are, it’s hard. I listen. It’s not easy to say I am always going to do this, but now is before you’re going to communicate, ask yourself, what doesn’t this person know? And for me, what I try to do is I try to make every time I’m communicating with a prospect as a nurture, I try to document new ideas of inhering and boardrooms, new pitfalls and challenges and I make a video that I send them around a new best practice that I heard from this customer. I just, I’m literally passing information from one account to the next all the time. And it’s amazing the feedback people are like, I never thought of it that way. Or it re triggers problems that they’re having and I’m just constantly writing down what don’t I think they know and what can I teach them? And for me, my motive, you know, my modality of is always through video because it’s humanizing and contextual
Jason: And so valuable to just share and give them. And I think every salesperson, right? So you’re, you lead a consulting company. I have a consulting company. We’re still salespeople. Also the sales person, the account executive, SDR, like all of them need to think like a consultant who’s gathering information, like you said, ear to the ground, listening, watching everything, learning from here and going with their for the same reason that like the top sales people, they’re doing that with their clients, but they’re also doing that with it around them. Like what’s working with their coworkers, what are their coworkers doing that’s successful? Taking that and applying it. Same thing. You’ve talked to this first client and then you know, whatever they’re doing that’s working or their challenge is sharing that with the next one and helping everyone improve and just to share it, just giving all of it.
Jamie: And that in turn comes to a a myth, especially around digital and social. The world that I live in around ages, so I can’t tell you how often I have to debunk the myth. My reps are older, they’re 52 years old on average and they just won’t be able to figure this out. LinkedIn did a study on it and we’re actually, we have a data analyst parsing through this data of all of our certifications and what we’re discovering is those over the age of 40 are actually outperforming those under the age of 40 for simple reason. I’m 41 so I’m right on that cusp. We number one are typically classically trained. Back in the late nineties and early two thousands we have, we remember a life without technology and actually talking to people. You have a business academia. Yup. And have developed different relationships in a different way. The only challenge is we didn’t know how to mechanize these using platforms like LinkedIn, whereas the inverse, those that are younger, again, LinkedIn is part and parcel of the way that they work, or at least the concept of it, but they haven’t developed some of those other soft skills. If especially those listening to this over the age of 40 that is your competitive advantage of you just learned how to build the relationships at scale using everything else you already know. That’s where your advantage comes from. Yeah.
Jason: Yeah, and especially because if you look at the classically trained model, it’s too, you know, if you’re doing B2B sales, it’s you go, you get an appointment, you walk into that person’s office, you’ll look around, you try to find something of interest that you can relate to. Maybe it’s their trophy fish or maybe it’s their golfing picture. Strike up a conversation, build a connection, build a relationship, build rapport now and what your saying or what I’m hearing, and this is what I’ve even seen on a manual scale online, is that now I can do all that online. I can find out all that information and then I can jumpstart our conversation light years ahead of where it would’ve been cold.
Jamie: Google images, Google photos, I immediately, I can’t tell you how I’ve been able to have conversations about things that we would have in common. For me, it’s skiing or cottaging or Google images, Google photos. It pulls from all of their social networks into one simple feed.
Jason: Now that you say that I’m super curious or wondering or worried or what, uh, before you came on the show here, if you Google me and Oh, you may have, man, I gotta check that. So, yeah, and I, and I think that’s interesting. I think, yeah, the ages and makes excuses. Just always an excuse. Right. And I also think on the flip side of that, not all millennials, not all younger generation, are without relationships and without conversations. You know, and it’s interesting because I work with some clients who have that and they say are the buyers are younger and they just, all they want to do is email and text and they don’t want to get on the phone. And I think some of that is true, right? For people within the population, right? There’s no generalizations. There’s no, millennials are only this way.
Jason: And keeping in mind, you know, and this is one reminder I heard this recently, is that the millennial age group is getting older. So you can’t just say, Oh well you’re 20 something. So you’re a millennial. Like the millennials are getting older, you’re on the cost. And so there’s the next generation, the next one. So it’s not just like every 25 year old who won’t make eye contact is a millennial. Like that’s a different thing. But one thing I’ve noticed is that if you’re selling into a business that there’s also a culture within the business, right? And some businesses have the culture of let’s just do all email, let’s do all Slack. We don’t have meetings, we don’t have conversations. You know, there’s, there’s that culture and then there’s cultures and organizations where they use the tools, they use technology and there’s a culture of conversations and picking up the phone or you know, building relationships. And I see it as not so much a generational kind of an ageism thing as it is a culture within that organization you’re contacting. I fully agree. It’s a filter of that, right? Yeah.
Jamie: I actually fully agree and I think that if I, knowing what I know now and how I’ve tried to build sales for life, I believe the number one culture to build is around learning and being inquisitive around your customer and market. I always remember this for the rest of my life. It was the last job I ever had. I was trying to become and I became the VP of sales at a software company in Toronto, Canada and the CEO in the interview stumped me hard because I in my twenties was in my late twenties was not as an adult learner. I finished my master’s degree and I thought, man, I’m done. It was probably like Clifford the dog. Like I hadn’t, I had not, I hadn’t made any notes. And this company sold data rooms to investment bankers, private equity firms and law firms.
Jamie: I hadn’t read liars poker or barbarians at the gate or any of these things. And immediately my two years at this firm, he the CEO and the whole company, because it permeated from him, was an avid learner books. It was like book club of the week and it would just podcasts and I got an MBA in investment banking yet I had never been an investment banker really quickly. So I took with that. And what I’m seeing in successful customers is learning is the ultimate leading indicator to success. And to your millennial point, I’m meeting great 25 year olds who are soaking up knowledge, not on their product, but on the challenges of the customer. How does an HR leader think? How does an operational leader thing? For me it’s been sales and marketing and that’s where you can have intelligent conversations even at your 25 years old to say, Hey, I’ve now worked on 60 different accounts. I’m hearing all these things. I’ve, I’m reading all these books and I can still teach you things you don’t know, regardless of age. That’s the value that I think that if as a, as a team building a culture, build it on learning. So what we’ve tried to encourage internally paying for people’s audio audibles you know, getting people, podcasts, getting people free books, just constantly learning.
Jason: Yeah. And I think the second part of that is the curiosity. And then I think adding all that, because I can imagine those conversations where you or somebody else linearization is talking to that younger person. Maybe they haven’t been there for very long relative to the tenure of your organization. And uh, they’re coming up with ideas and they’re good ideas. And the key is, is also have a culture in an organization where there’s not an ego that’s going to stop learning from other people. Where some people based on org chart based on age, based on tenure, think they know more and they’re not open to learning. Because that’s one of the things, right? So if we talk about, cause I’m 44 I’m not on a costume, I’m gen X, but you know, have a conversation with someone who’s 25 the thing is, keep in mind that person was born with technology.
Jason: They don’t know a time without the internet and barely remember a time without a smartphone. And so they’ve got the technology piece down and the ones who are curious and inquisitive and seeking information can teach you a lot, can teach someone like me a lot because you know, they’ve got this perspective that’s natural. I’ve got the relationship perspective that’s natural and you know, what can you learn? And I think that’s a Testament if that’s what you have in your culture or anyone listening to this in your organization, the kind of place you want to be at or build, if you’re at the top is one where it’s learning, it’s curiosity, it’s asking questions because that’s what will make you great in sales as well. And then just a culture of being open and being able to push back and share feedback and, and be open to what’s working and what’s not independent of what somebody’s title might be.
Jamie: And I don’t know if it’s correlated, I’m going to maybe Pat ourselves on the shoulder to think it’s correlated to how fast we moved to enterprise, how fast we moved up market. You start a consulting firm in 2012 and you go from a small local business in Toronto to Oracle in nine months. Right. And then from there just continued with the global enterprise. And this isn’t me, this is my team. My team was able to have really solid conversations, which you’ve revenue officers. I had never been a chief revenue officer. I’d only ever had met a few of them before that time in my life. But it was taking every conversation with those people. What books are they reading, what are they doing? And just like learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn. Yeah. And so that, you know, you fast forward over a couple years
Jason: And that’s it for part three. Thank you so much for being here. So glad you’re listening. Hopefully you’re enjoying this and come back tomorrow for part four. As always, keep in mind everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.