This is the final segment of the conversation I had with Sean.
In Part 4, Sean and I talk about:
- Enrolling versus selling
- Always focus your sales efforts on the prospects who agree with your worldview
- The classic selling mistake
- Less people, more dogs
Download The Power of Authentic Persuasion ebook
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Connect with Sean on LinkedIn
Sean is a serial entrepreneur VC and co-founder of GrowthX and GrowthX Academy, with three successful exits, who has successfully grown dozens of early-stage companies across a wide variety of products and markets. He was recently named the #2 Online Sales Influencer and contributor at The Huffington Post. He’s now committed to working with countries, companies, entrepreneurs and those who want to work with them on building startup ecosystems and developing the next generation of leaders for the innovation economy.
E195 – Transcript
Jason: Alright everybody. Welcome to the sales experience podcast. Welcome to the final part, part four of my conversation with Sean Sheppard from growth X and growth X Academy. If you haven’t, make sure to tune in to the first three parts, all of this will make sense as we wrap it up in this final part and you will truly understand why I want him in the show and how much value he has to bring to listeners. Some of it is just going to sound repetitive. It’s going to sound like things that I’ve talked about on the show for the previous hundred and so many episodes. It’s all in alignment with my vision, my focus, what I want for the sales industry as a whole. For sales reps, for you listening, whether you’re a salesperson, you’re a manager or you own a company, startup or you’ve been around for a while and you’re looking for success, you want to create the right sales experience.
Jason: Sean is a man after my own heart. And sometimes repetition is the best thing. So he says a lot of things that I’ve said before, but it’s great hearing it from someone else who’s in their different focus dealing with startups, but it’s truly amazing. And here go part four.
Sean: If you share it with them in an honest way, the ones that will nurture themselves closer to you will understand, will absolutely buy into your vision, but also respect your reality and be willing to invest the two things that matter more than anything else at this stage. The time and the truth. That’s all I want from you. I want time and truth. I want the time of you and or X number of people in your team and I want them all to tell me the truth. And if you guys do that, I promise you’ll get what you want.
Jason: And that early stage selling, you’re talking about, you’re talking about recruiting those people. The term I’ve always used and what I found is very important is enrolling. So more of an enrollment than a sales process. And that can go on even as companies mature, but you’re actually enrolling somebody into your vision and where you’re going and what you’re doing more than selling it to them and then hoping they just buy it. You’re wanting them to come on this journey with you, which even at again, at a mature sales level where it’s developed and you have a script and a process when you’re enrolling people to come with you, it’s a much higher level. Then you’ve got this raving fan advocate kind of relationship where people are onboard and they’ll look past your mistakes, your issues because they’re in it for something bigger that includes their own, you know, success.
Sean: I think enrollment is a fine way to analogize it. You can think of it like you’re, you know, someone’s applying to go to your school and you’re the enrollment advisor or counselor and you’re trying to decide whether or not they are going to be successful on your campus. I don’t say you take the enrollment advisor only counselor attitude like I’m better than you. Yeah, yeah. No, not at all. But there should be a mindset of I am seeking applicants to work with me. And those need to be partners and you need to treat them like you treat business partners, they have, you are signing up together to work together for some period of time. You want to make sure it’s successful. It is very much like a marriage or an engagement, pre-marriage. So you use that dating mentality, right.
Sean: And you know you can swipe whatever direction you know as many times as you want in the no category. What does that swipe right or swipe left? Okay, so swipe left is a note, right? You might swipe left 70 times to find three that you want to have conversations with, right. And then you might go to have drinks or dinner or whatever and then you figure out which ones you want to continue to pursue. And that’s very much in that bank. But don’t do it with an attitude like, you know, I’ve only got so much. You have to be ruthless with yourself and your team, but you have to be obviously respectful, as supportive and humble with the market, but be very honest. These are the kinds of people I’m looking for.
Sean: This is the kind of mindset, people who agree with me on these things and share my worldview. Seth Godin is one of my mentors, one of the best lines ever about marketing. Anything’s unclick. There are two kinds of people, Sean, in this world, when you’re in marketing, those would agree with your worldview and those who don’t right? Reach out to the ones that agree with your worldview and tell them the truth and state that worldview right out of the gate like we stayed our worldview of growth, right? It’s very simple. Most companies fail because of markets and behaviors, not products. We look to great product focus founders who care just as much about making money is raising it, care more about our health than our money. And those are the ones that we want to invest in. And that saves us a lot of trouble with bad for customers because when you’re building your customer profile, you shouldn’t just be building what your ideal initial profile is.
Sean: Build your bad fit profile. We’ve all had those people. People that are high maintenance or expectations are too high. They want things you can’t deliver on. Those are mainstream mindsets and you have to listen for those flags and just say thank you. It’s never, no, it’s just not. No.
Jason: Well, and when you’re clear on your vision and kind of the mission of your organization and of yourself and your sales role, let’s say, then it’s very easy to identify who’s going to be a good fit and what you can do. And then going back to that dating analogy, I think that’s super important cause I’ve been telling people this for years, just like you wouldn’t do on a first date or when you meet somebody and you’re starting a relationship, don’t start with talking about yourself for the majority of the conversation. Nobody likes that person because you know a lot of people in sales do that, especially the, you know, let’s say even the product founder or the product based salesperson who is selling from a place of, you know what they know, and how they feel about it.
Jason: All they want to do is share and monologue and tell it because they’re so excited. They’re not asking questions, they’re not uncovering if the person has a need and then how they can actually solve it. And so that’s always important to understand in any relationship. You know, just lead with questions, get the other person to talk, and then you’ll find out everything you need to know. And then relying back on your vision and your mission and your core values, like where you’re going is that person now everything that they just said, is that a good fit? Do I want them as a part of the team, right? As a customer and then now we can have a conversation about, now I have the solution to get you from here to share.
Sean: Share your why. Yeah. Why are you even doing this? Why are you contacting me? Why are you in this business? Why are you going down this road and you do it by constructing a very simple, what I call initial value hypothesis. Look, I’m doing this because of this reason and I think I can help you in this way because I’ve helped others like you and I’d like to know if that’s possible. I haven’t said a Goddamn word about a product or a market. It doesn’t matter.
Jason: Nobody buys a drill because they need a drill, right? They need a hole and they don’t need a hole. Right? Like I say, they don’t need a hole. They need to say hang a picture, right? And they don’t need to hang a picture. They just need to keep their wife happy or their husband happy. And that’s what it all comes down to, right?
Sean: That’s absolutely right. And if you have my world view, happy wife, happy life, then you’re going to do it.
Joseph: And you’ll pay whatever it takes to get that drill, to get that hole, to hang that picture, to make you know your significant other happy.
Sean: But once you understand your why, your job now is to understand there’s. Right? And so in order to do that, you’ve got to stop talking and start asking and start listening and construct a conversational framework. This is one of the biggest areas where I see sales professionals and startups fail. I run a meeting, they don’t know how to walk in with an agenda that’s very clear about seeking fit in an orderly manner that’s very respectful and efficient of everyone’s time and resources. And because to me, the purpose of every interaction, a presale, is to determine whether or not you want to continue spending time, money, and resources together.
Sean: And if so, why and how and set a next step. It’s that simple. It’s hard to do again because as I said, the minute you get seduced by any looky look expresses interest in what you’re doing, you get all excited and then that’s personally validating. And then your emotions take over and the lizard brain runs it. And before you know it, you’re spending your time chasing. Yeah. Things that are never gonna come to anything.
Jason: And you feel good because when you’re having a meeting with your manager or the owner or somebody else, you can talk about this pipeline of great leads who all said they’re super interested and they’re all just, you know, you’re going to call them back next month or they’re going to call you back and they’re going to want to buy and you’ll never hear from them again.
Sean: That’s right. And that’s a whole other conversation than everybody. Anybody who’s spent any time in sales has had people go dark on them without a promotion. And the number one reason why that happens is the people that you’ve been talking to never truly recognized the need that was great enough to compel them to page. Wait, that doesn’t mean they won’t evaluate options and ask you questions and make meetings with you and take meetings with you and do all those other things. It’s your responsibility, not theirs. A 5% improvement in the qualification at the top of the funnel can result in as much as a 20 to 25% change in the bottom of your phone. Do the math. It’s freaking mind-blowing. So this is all about when people ask me, what’s the number one thing, what’s the number one thing I can do to improve my conversion rates and my close rates? Which by the way, closing is bullshit.
Sean: It’s, it’s not a tactic or a manipulation, right? It’s a byproduct of being fully immersed in giving people what they want. It happens when you do the right things. It’s not something somebody can learn to do, but if you want to improve your closing percentage, improve your pre qualification, that’s it. This is all about finding fit. Not everybody is going to be your customer and not everybody should be. And it’s not personal, I know I say don’t take anything personally. I can say it, but I also know, as I said before, I’m talking to both sides of my mouth. I believe that personal, professional development are indistinguishable. I think it’s a distinction without a difference. Same thing here. Yes, you’re going to take it personally, but do it within context. Compartmentalize it, recognize it. It’s not your fault. It’s just not a fit.
Sean: I’ll tell you what, I’m serious. The longer I live, the fewer people I surround myself with and the more I like my dog.
Jason: Well, and that’s the thing, right? So if you’re in sales and it is your fault because you’re missing some skills or some abilities, then take that personal and work on it. Otherwise, don’t take it personal. And I think that’s a great place to stop because I think that’s important for salespeople to realize and kind of focus on whether it’s early stage, start out, late-stage, just a company that’s just running and they’re getting into sales and all of that’s valuable. So Sean, where’s the best place for people to find you? Information growth X, what you guys are doing, I know you mentioned it earlier, but why don’t you remind everybody again?
Sean: Yeah, sure. They can go to growthx.com they can go to gxacademy.com for the school. They can certainly Google YouTube, all my talks, I travel now doing like keynotes, workshops, sales kickoffs. You know I do a lot of teaching people and certifying people in our market acceleration program. I’m helping them building ecosystems around the globe to help them reduce the failure rate of startups and improve the success rate of scallops as well as help these companies and governments and communities build their own Silicon Valley-style ecosystems so that they stopped losing their top entrepreneurs to the most expensive place in the country and they can be home close to their families and customers.
Jason: That’s great. Well, Sean, I appreciate both the work that you’re doing out there and trying to help these companies be successful and make that transition from product, you know, founders and owners to being able to sell and actually generate incomes that are raised money. Of course, I appreciate you being on the show here and sharing all this with everybody.
Sean: Jason, it’s my pleasure. I love the work you’re doing. Don’t stop. Keep it up. Anything, any other time you want to have me on or anything before you just let me know.
Jason: Yeah, we’ll definitely have to do a part two. Thanks again, Sean.
Sean: And a little healthier.
Jason: Yeah, well without the coughing for sure. We’ll do a healthy version, maybe sometime in the, a cough free version for sure. And for everyone listening, if you want to check out the show notes, all of Shawn’s links, all of his information, the transcript for this, you can go to cutterconsultinggroup.com/podcast you can find episodes on there. And as always, keep in mind that everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.