Sales, like any discipline, is something you learn and it is a lifelong process. In this episode, Steve Richard, CEO and co-founder of Vorsight and ExecVision, reveals his thoughts on the natural-born salesperson, the power of testing, and how sales leaders, as well as individual performers, can improve their overall efficacy. It always comes back to lifelong learning. He discusses training, coaching, the importance of learning from people around you, and more with Lance Tyson. Give this episode a listen, and you’ll come away with timeless lessons applicable to all aspects of your sales career.
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Against the Sales Odds Speaks with Steve Richard on How to Empower Growth
I’m pretty excited about this episode. I’m going to set it up this way. I first got introduced to this person probably around 2013 or 2014. A lot of you know, at one point, I owned a call center and we used to do research all these what we thought were competitors. I see this company Vorsight out there, and I’m fascinated by what they do. Not only are they in the call center business lead generation, but they’re also in the sales training business. We track these folks forever.
Fast forward this about six years later, I’m at Madison Square Garden. We’re doing all kinds of sales and coaching sales leadership. They’re going, “Lance, you got to check this new system out, ExecVision. We can do a game film on the salespeople’s calls.” I’m like, “That’s pretty cool. Let me listen to that. The software is fantastic.”
All sudden, I found out through connecting with this company and some introductions, I got introduced to Steve Richard, the Founder of ExecVision. It turns out as I’ve been looking, I’ve gotten to know Steve. We have mutual contacts and customers. I fully endorse what his company does because it ties into the training business. Steve, welcome to the program.
I know we were doing similar things and not even that far apart, being in DC and Ohio.
Steve, you’re the Founder of ExecVision. You founded other companies and were a successful entrepreneur. Tell everybody your story a little bit. Talk about ExecVision and things you did before this too.
I’m going to go back to the beginning. The family business is septic tanks, precast concrete products.
Stop right there. You’re kidding me. My family business is excavation and septic tank trucks. You talk about Bowman’s here.
I’m not kidding. The trucks that Richard Septic System in Trenton, Connecticut, you should find out if we’re one of your customers. My dad would drive the truck and the diesel engine puts you to sleep when you’re a kid. There was a family business. This was not the pumping business. This was the installed precast concrete, but someone else would take the septic tank out.
I raked plenty of two-way modified stone to make sure that the tank was level underneath the ground. I know exactly what you’re talking about. We do it.
That was a very good business. I didn’t want to be in that long-term. I went to school and graduated from college. When I graduated from college, I was supposed to be an investment banker. I went 0 for 22 on investment banking job interviews. Everyone else I knew was an investment banker, but I couldn’t get a job. I think God’s way of telling you, like, “You are not supposed to be an investment banker, be something other than an investment banker in your life.” That’s where I got into sales. That’s where it all started. I went 5 for 5 on sales job interviews, and that was it. I fell in love with it. I was bad at first, though.
Where did you go to school?
I went to Georgetown Undergrad.
Is Georgetown Jesuit?
That’s a Jesuit school.
Before you go into the entrepreneur piece, I usually ask this, especially people. How does the Jesuit thinking influence your business? I think there’s a discipline there. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that.
Georgetown maybe not be as close to the Jesuit, but the questioning of everything I think is very much instilled in me. There was a class called The Problem of God at Georgetown. It’s a very famous Georgetown freshmen class called The Problem of God. That’s where they bring all those things forward.
No doubt, and I apologize. I interviewed somebody that went to a Jesuit school, and I think the thinking, questioning, and problem-solving behind things is critical in business. Back to the investment banking piece, you decide that you run into that wall.
I didn’t decide anything. It decided for me. Everyone I went to undergrad business school at Georgetown went to New York and became an investment banker, except for me. Almost everyone went to law school. I got $60,000 in school loans and I had no path or planned to pay that off. I needed a job or I was going to go back to the septic tank business. That was the backup plan. That’s where I got 5 for 5 in job interviews and landed a place called The Corporate Executive Board, which was acquired by Gardner.
Famously they wrote Challenge Your Sale Challenge Your Customer. However, at the time, none of that existed. We were selling to CIOs. I found myself in a room full of 100 people that are cold calling and emailing. I didn’t think of it that way at the time. They called us marketing associates. This is back in 2002. There was no marketing going on. It was a cold calling shop. We call them reps now, BDRs. Originally, I was failing badly. All of my natural instincts were completely wrong.
I had my bud fox look in the mirror, like, “What are you made out of?” I said, “I got to find a way to make this work because I don’t want to go to Torrington and work for Uncle Jim.” I sat with the best people with a leaderboard. I saw the top ten and I said, “They’re my best friends.” I sat with them. I suspended any role judgment, bias, or anything that I might have.
At first, I saw some of the stuff they were doing, and I was like, “That’s weird. Why would you say it that way? I don’t get it, but it worked.” My mind was made up then that like, “I don’t care how I feel about any of this stuff or what I think is my initial thoughts and feelings were completely wrong.” I wanted to be good and pay off my school loans. I did. I paid him off in two and a half years and ended up for a good amount of time. I was number 1 out of 100. It wasn’t my natural inclination.
Some of these sales thought leaders that are out there banging their chest in front of Ferrari’s and stuff talking about how great they are and what naturals they are. It drives me nuts. That’s not what most people experience. Maybe that happens once in a blue moon, but sales are something you learn. It’s a discipline like anything else. Anybody can be a doctor or a lawyer if you work hard enough in it. Anybody can be a high-end B2B sales professional if you work hard enough in it.
There are obviously some people that have an inclination to maybe connect with people more easily. What you lack in the art side, you make up in the process of the activity side. I 100% agree with that. I am a believer. You can build a salesperson. They’re not always born. There are some people that are a little bit more natural than others.
You got to want to do it, Lance.
That’s where that grit comes in, that determination, and a constant never-ending improvement, all that thought. When you go back to the CEB piece, you were essentially selling research. Am I correct to assume that?
Correct. I learned this from people who were smarter than me that was doing it. Originally, I was cold calling and got promoted to the field where I was a traveling salesperson, but you’re in the office 4 or 5 days a month in the same location. You get to sit across from a CIO and that’s who I had, and I’d say, “We’ve created a council for other CIOs like you. We’re founded on a simple premise. For any problem you have, we can find 4 or 5 other people in the network that have already solved it.”
The reason this was so effective, and I would even pause a little there. I watched this movement or did this again and again, and I copied it. You would get them to say, “I can avoid reinventing the wheel.” I knew it. After those two sentences, if the CIO said, “I can avoid reinventing the wheel.” I’m like, “Done.” After that, you’re not even selling the research. You’re more selling a concept and asking a bunch of questions about the issues and challenges. You’re saying like, “Here are the things we’re working on in the research agenda.” They generally like to talk to some of the analysts and people like that to be like, “It would be an odd, but it worked great.”
It’s that concept of selling expensive err. You do that for how long? You have an interesting journey because then from there, is that when you started your own business?
Training is teaching someone something new. Coaching is getting them to do it consistently and do the things they know they should be doing.
Yeah. It was a little bit over two years. I did a side gig for Hot Minute, and that’s where we founded the outsourced appointment setting business. David Stillman, my business partner, and I met there. He’s more of a pure entrepreneur than I am. Even though I have it in my blood too, but I’m a little more risk-averse. We’re not that good at selling. We’re good at getting the appointments. There was a time there, Lance, when we could get 20 to 30 appointments with C-level executives from pure cold outbound. Those days are over. Back then, if you knew what you were doing, you absolutely could. One of our first clients was Gerson Lehrman Group, GLG.
Their sales pitch was the opposite of CB, which was, “It doesn’t matter what function you serve in the company. The industry you’re in matters the most. Therefore, you need expertise within the industry. You need an expert network.” That also worked incredibly well, even though it was exactly the opposite of what CB was doing. We got very lucky.
We sat down one day with this guy and pitched him. He’s like, “This is not a fit. It’s too expensive for me.” He gets up to leave. His name is Pete Dodd from Hanover Research. We said, “Pete, sit down.” He introduced us to GLG, and they ended up being the mega client that we founded the whole business on. I’ve been an unemployable entrepreneur since 2005.
I got in the call center business. I think I told you this before I owned all these Dale Carnegie operations. It was a franchise network. I was trying to reduce the cost of the business because I was paying 15% back to licenses. I said, “I’m going to build this call center much like that’s in pro sports.” Chad Estis, at that time, was working for the Cavs. He’s the godfather of these inside sales teams that he started in Detroit. He goes, “You should do one of these in your business because you’re selling all these open enrollment stuff. I started to sell them that back to all the other Dale Carnegie operations.”
There was a time where you could factor in the number of dials and activity to get in those appointments. There was definitely a space, or I hadn’t thought about that way, but I think that’s from ’02 to maybe 2011 or ’13, so you can dial in that. No pun intended. You make a run at that, but then also go back to do my homework on Vorsight. Correct me if I’m wrong. You ended up making the big conquest. Didn’t you end up selling that service to CEB?
CEB was a client of Vorsight for the outsourced appointment setting for a while. It was pretty fun. They probably made about 500 appointments with us over time. It’s supplemental. Vorsight has got about 30 people on the phone, Arlington, Virginia, Niche Boutique, if you will, no aspirations to turn into a 1,000-person organization. They do good work. For those enterprise cold outbound appointments, they’re about the best out there and they still are.
Knowing them, they are, and your signatures all over that. I’m guiding from what I know, and correct me if I’m wrong. From there, you guys start to add on ancillary services. Is that when you started to gather your training?
That was the training. Originally, people were like, “What are you feeding over there, Steve? Your team is a bunch of college graduates and is doing better than my team. My team is highly paid, allegedly highly skilled, but they can’t get meetings to save their lives. You guys are getting a lot of good-quality meetings. What are you doing?” In the beginning, we started giving away training for free. We started training at the top of the funnel. What does it take to get an appointment?
We were doing it to help the client, and that turned into, “We can charge money for this.” That’s where we built up a sales training business from maybe 2007 until ’14. We spun that off. It’s now called Funnel Clarity, and it’s out there, but sales training exclusively for the top of the Funnel. The conversation was, “You guys have a methodology all along with good.” Those methodologies presume you have an appointment in the first place. What if you don’t have a meeting? What if you don’t have an appointment? What do you do then?
There are other companies that do similar things, but with Vorsight methodology, there’s a language that goes with it like 3X3 research, verbal judo, overtime questions, hotlists, and call windows. There’s this whole framework for it. That has turned into, in many ways, the standard in a lot of companies. That was fun to see along the way. I still do some of those to help our customers with our tech, but I think much more interesting is the advent of the technology with ExecVision.
We had Vorsight, which always has a laboratory of sales environments. We’re testing. What works, what doesn’t work, and you constantly have to adjust. What worked before ’08 didn’t work after. What worked I think pre-pandemic is not working post. It’s all changing. Back to Vorsight, we became a customer of this technology called Team Visibility.
Team Visibility at the time literally put a camera on the computer and was like watching the reps. Now I thought this was like, “I only had positive intentions, good intentions, try to help people get better,” but you already smell the big brother stigma is bad. We set them up. We didn’t look at anything for about two weeks. We were going to see what we saw after that point.
The salespeople had turned the cameras up to the ceiling tiles, like those popcorn-style ceiling tiles. It looks like the surface of the moon. We go back to start watching game tape, and we’re like, “What is that? What are we looking at here? We kept seeing it.” We didn’t realize they had essentially mutinied against this. We sat down with them all and interviewed them. A lot of them put tape over the microphone. They did not want anything to it.
We said, “Here is our intention. Our intention was to try to help.” We never fired anybody or anything like that. We’re trying to learn what you’re saying, help you get better, and have real evidence on the ground. The lesson from it was twofold. It’s almost like a social contract. It was like, “Number one, we’re going to have you opt-in. You’re going to tell us when you want coaching. Number two, we’re going to ditch the cameras, and we’re going to integrate with the stuff that’s already recording like the phone system, the dialer, the online meeting tools, all that stuff so that you don’t have that like immediate in your face, Big Brother thing.”
They didn’t work. It whipsawed hard. It was like a mutiny on the ship, people hate this, but they don’t have the confidence to tell us. It went all the way to the other extreme, which was people loved it. Every month they were asking for coaching on a greater percentage of their meaningful calls, not like the gatekeeper stuff or the switchboard and all that jazz, but actual conversations with prospects. It got to a point where was 65% of their conversations with prospects. They requested coaching. We didn’t ask. We gave him a button that says, “I want to be coached.” That was it, and then they would do it.
I’ve noticed an interesting pattern about your history here. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it this way. You get into sales and go, “I struggled selling myself to get into the financial industry.” You got back against the wall, and you got something, but then even when you were in sales for CEB, you’re very willing to test. You weren’t so determined that you’re willing to evaluate. You go back to the way you’ve been pitched CEB. If I could get somebody to say, “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” it doesn’t sound like you want to reinvent the wheel. It sounds like you want to augment a wheel that’s working, so you’re willing to test it. Is that how you were as a salesperson? Is that accurate?
It was and it is. I’m still a salesperson, Lance. I’m a peddler. That’s all I am. I got about 25 to 30 people in ExecVision. That’s straightforward. It’s the testing and the measurement. It comes down to that. Ken Krogue was the Founder of InsideSales.com. He’s the one that maybe gave me those words. He’s a Mormon guy from Utah and God Fatherly. He’s like the big brother you always wanted and very thoughtful and everything. He said, “We don’t say four-letter words in Utah. The only four-letter word we say is a test.” It cracks me up.
I’ll give you a couple of examples of how these things have played out. Now granted, they also change over time. Some of these we should rerun. At one point, we had a guy that said, “Is it better to send a link or an attachment?” This is a cold email. We tested it, ran 100 of each, and it turned out it was the same. It was within 1 or 2. It didn’t matter. It’s one of those things that people debated. The data didn’t say anything different.
The other thing we tested, and this one was more scientific. I wrote an article on this with this company called Hiplead. Ironically, when I was running the sales training part of our business, I was using an outsourcing company to get our appointments because we didn’t have any available people in our business. They ran this email test, very controlled. It was like 2,100 in the control group and 130 in the test group. We had the same exact email copy, no different. The only thing that was different was referencing a second-degree connection.
You were referencing a second-degree connection. You’ll be 563% more likely to get the appointment if you reference a common connection than if you don’t. The reason I love this data so much is that I had nothing to do with it. Literally, they logged into LinkedIn as me and extracted all my second-degree connections when you could do such a thing and test. They ran a controlled experiment in Salesloft, Outreach, DialSource, or Zant, one of the sales engagement platforms. The numbers were the numbers.
Consistency drives accountability and vice versa.
Another interesting one is looking at the LinkedIn profile. They did a good AB test where it was 12/18 versus 12/19. Over 1,000 data points, one of them you’re looking at is the LinkedIn profile. The other one, you’re not. Twenty-five percent more likely to get the meeting by looking at the LinkedIn profile than if you don’t, if you control everything else. There are these “wow” insights that are built-in there. They all come back to brain science and the way our brain processes information.
If you say something about the company, the contact, and personalizing a little tiny bit, it has a huge impact. It’s not my opinion. Whenever someone asks me, like, “What do you think? How do you feel about X?” My answer back to them is always, “We’ve run a test. We haven’t run a test. I’ve seen someone else run a test. I know of data or I don’t know of data.” Here’s another interesting one.
I literally saw right now from this guy that does his LinkedIn experiments. I didn’t know this. If you do a post on LinkedIn, the magic number of hashtags is between 3 and 8. If you have two hashtags or fewer on your posts or if you have nine or more, it’s 20% to 30% less engagement than if you have between 3 and 8. I’ve always been doing three, but I’ve never done five. I’m sitting here going, “I’m going to run a test on that. I can see my views and what happens. It’s all right there.” I digress.
That goes back to that test thing, what works and doesn’t. I know when we deliver any sales training, like, “This is not our opinion. We’re not making any more money because we say that.” You can resist if you want, but this is what we’ve tested that’s worked. There’s one thing we’ve tested over the years. When you’re in with a gatekeeper and not the gatekeepers a ton more, but when you use a word like correspondence, the possibility of getting through is about 20% higher. It’s not an email or a letter. It’s correspondence. When you say correspondence, they can’t tell whether it’s been one way or the other. I’m a savvy gatekeeper. That’s an inner gatekeeper. A CEO or something will probably know if you had it or not. It’s interesting.
It’s probabilities. It’s like Vegas, craps, blackjack with the guys that were card counting. They were taking these little edges. I’m sitting here and all of a sudden, one probability is higher.
It is, and over 1,000 calls make a difference or whatever it is. You start ExecVision and you make this product better. Did you acquire them?
We acquired them. I didn’t tell you that part of the story. Team Vince came back to us because I introduced them to their first twenty customers, and then they lost them all. They came back to us and were saying, “How come you guys are still here, and they’re not?” It’s like, “We’re doing this and this.” There’s a shout-out to a guy named Eric White, who was instrumental in all this founding with me. We were attached at the hip during that period. He was coming up with all these insights about how to get people to change. Team Vince has said like, “If you guys are so smart, you buy us.” We did. We use Vorsight as a platform. We essentially acquire the team visibility platform, turn it into ExecVision and then build up in the conversation intelligence category. We were right there at the very beginning of that category.
Give your minute or so an explanation of what ExecVision is now. I think I did a disservice when I explained it as a game film. Explain what it is.
Game film is a part of it without questions. A lot of people use it for that. When you think about conversations, they are data. Going back to this whole testing thing, if you know what’s being said and the context in which it’s being said, you can have all sorts of insights about conversations. I think most importantly is surfacing the coachable moments. What are the calls where the reps need help? They need coaching. They’ve learned it in training.
Training is teaching someone something new. Coaching is getting them to do it consistently and do the things they know they should be doing. How do we do that? We need to have real examples of what they’re saying on real sales calls in the wild. You can role play it all you want. You can give them fake scenarios all you want and make them turn on their computer camera, record it and certify them. It’s not worth the hill of beans. What matters is what they’re saying to real prospects and customers on calls.
ExecVision is taking those recordings, transcribing them, and allowing people to do all sorts of amazing things with them, like build libraries of best calls, so you can onboard people faster, help improve conversion rate, and help people improve win rates. Quantitatively track is my manager’s coaching because you can comment on the calls and score the call. Are my manager coaching? We know. Are your reps talking too much? We measure talking versus listening. If your reps are talking too much, it shows it right on the dashboard. That rep has been talking 80% of the time.
I think what dawned on me in terms of if anybody is reading this in the sports business, sports have been decimated since this pandemic. Talking about tough business to be in is trying to get big groups of people together. That’s not a business right now. I think you and I are talking to an MBA team. You said, “Let’s look up the word refund. How often is a refund coming up? How many times is refund coming up from our folks or somebody else?”
We can hone in those moments because a lot of organizations are trying to give something back as opposed to giving a refund. They exist and move forward as opposed to, “Can I move this to next season or this next season’s coming up?” There are some other valuable points. When it dawned on me, you can zero in on things that are critical. On top of that, you build out your coachable moments or train out around what a customer is saying as opposed to somebody being pontificate and what they could say. That’s a different play.
The refund one is a very interesting example. I know which customer you’re talking about. I think we did a trend pivot to say, “The reps have told us lately that a lot of people are asking for refunds,” fair. I don’t know how you disagree with that. That seems logical. We’re going to go run a trend line. Show me all the calls are over two minutes that have a certain call disposition. The rep is dispositioning. The call certainly talked to a customer as opposed to somebody else.
How many of those contain not just refund, but even what’s called keyword topic because there are other ways you could say a refund. “I want my money back,” those kinds of things. We looked at the percentage of those over time. In this case, it held up. What it showed is, previously, it was non-existent on that chart. When you pivot it by that, you see the upward and are like, “The percentage of calls where people are asking for their money back, or refunds or those kinds of things has gone up fairly significantly versus what it was before.”
Hiring a lot of smart people and letting them go doesn’t work. You’ll end up in a situation where you got a lot of people in the same canoe, rowing in different directions. You have to talk about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and get into it.
That’s one of those ones where, “I’ve done the same thing, Lance, where a sales team will go, ‘We’re getting killed by a budget. Nobody’s getting a budget, any money.’” You’ll run the same exact analysis and go, “That’s only happening in 10% of those types of calls.” Is it a factor? Yeah, but you’re making it sound like it’s an immovable object. It’s happening in 90%. It’s only happening in ten. I think what it is, is like the human confirmation bias that we all have present in everything that we do to the extent that we can eliminate that. You think the function of sales is historically an incredibly high scrap rate compared to manufacturing.
Manufacturing had to optimize six signals and all this stuff. You think about legal departments and how they operate and how you practice law. They have to optimize on all these different fronts, and you can measure these things and how effectively people get through contracts. We’ve been doing it in a little while in sales, but it’s only still early baseball. It’s the very beginning of the story.
It’s something you said there is. I can’t tell you how many times one of my instructors or myself over the years, and you’ve run into this problem yourself, where I call it the albino boll weevil. You wouldn’t see an albino bull on a cotton field because it’s albino, and they bring these scenarios up that rarely ever happens. They get challenged. What if they say this?
When you run the data points, it’s not happening anyway. I get if that’s your fear, what would you do? You can’t be ready for every scenario. Let’s get ready for the scenarios that have high odds of happening. It’s like going back to that craps analogy. There are certain bets you make that consistently make you a winner more times than not.
I’m such a big believer, and I think you are too. Sales performance doesn’t move without sales coaching or sales management. You move one into the pen at the other end of the pen moves. It’s where to spend the time to get the best odds. Is it slots mentality or is it a craps mentality? That’s what I love about ExecVision. As that has evolved, a lot of industries going into 2021 are going to aim small, miss small.
A lot of these organization teams, depending on what business you’re in, are not going to be able to miss. You’re going to need to coach on specific things because people were acting more conservatively. They’re spending less money and dragging their feet. The competition is stiffer. I think these coachable moments for sales leaders are going to be critical.
Going back to my story, I found that ExecVision is in a very odd situation. I had a big network of sales leaders because I had been a road warrior for a few years with the training business that is mostly sunset-ted now. I was also speaking at conferences all the time, doing all that. I had an opportunity to go back to people in my network to CROs, Chief Commercial Officers, VPs of sales, those kinds of folks. I literally interviewed 200 of them. They have availed sales calls, but it was still an interview.
When you’re asking someone about their biggest challenges, I kept hearing two words, and I wrote this article on it and got picked up as one of the top five sales blogs by some independent somebody or another. It was consistency and accountability. It’s exactly what you’re saying right now. Those were the words I heard again and again, and then we were measuring it. That was the big-time light bulb moment.
As a sales leader, if you can get accountability driving that consistency and maybe both directions. Consistency drives accountability and back and forth. Life is a lot easier. I don’t think we can afford not to do that, especially when you start dealing with a 20-person sales team or a 100-person sales team in that range. You’ve ten people in a room probably would get away with it. Now you’ve got 100 people working from home, stop.
As a salesperson entrepreneur, you said, “I’m still a salesperson,” how does it affect your leadership? How do you lead the organization with that? When I asked you earlier, I thought it was an interesting answer. I said, “How do you want me to introduce myself?” You said, “Introduce me as the founder.” I don’t know how much of a CEO I am, but you’re definitely leading the organization. You’re doing that daily. Talk about that sales leadership or the executive leadership.
I’m horrible at sales management. I’m not your pipeline management guy. We have a chief revenue officer. His name is Scott Shaw. He’s fantastic at this stuff. My approach is more probably an outcropping of who I am, which is I’m going to do it. We’re going to do these things together. I’m more of a teacher than anything else because I’ve learned so many lessons that I’m partying with other people. I’m teaching lessons as we go in the context of real customers, opportunities with prospects, all those things along the way.
I had one of our customer success people talking about one of our customers that’s renewing. He said, “XYZ person is the signer.” I said, “Time out. We talked about this before, Eric. There’s a difference between the economic buyer and the signer, at least in how I learned it. The economic buyer is the senior-most point of approval. Sometimes that’s not the person who signs. Sometimes the person who signs is the procurement person or the CFO, maybe even delegated to a sales manager to sign.”
A lot of these things that the salespeople conflate I’m probably leading more by example and doing it. There’s not a job I would ask someone to do with the exception of writing code. There’s not a job I asked anyone to do that. I haven’t basically done myself in some capacity or at least understand. That’s a little bit different than a lot of other leadership philosophies. I know the leadership philosophy is hiring smarter people than you and letting them go.
I definitely want to hire smarter people than me, but I have seen hiring a lot of smart people and letting them go, and it doesn’t work. You end up in a situation where you got a lot of people in the same canoe, rowing in different directions. You have to talk about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and get into it. If you have some basis and understanding of that, it becomes much more productive along the way. I guess the short answer is, “I’m doing it in selling.”
I talked to a guy, and he’s like, “Yeah, I used to be on top of this 400-person Comcast sales organization because I hated it. I was so far from the customer. It was hard for me to even get on a call with a customer.” That, to me, is insane. I don’t understand how you can lead an organization like that and not at least be able to get some contact with the customer. It’s one of the bizarre use cases for executives, not bizarre, but senior-level executives that can’t hear what’s happening on calls. Now they can.
There are so many that are out of touch too. I had a president of a company and they had about 100 salespeople. I don’t see how that would work. It was an impact or credibility statement that referenced a few things. I go, “How would you do it?” She goes, “This.” I love your example. It works because you’re able to reference some things. You definitely are able to throw your title out there. I said, “Now give me that and be an account exact. It doesn’t work there. You may or may not like it. I can tell you if this works. If you got something better, you guys probably would be doing it. You wouldn’t have hired us or asked us to help.”
That’s scalable. You’ve got to do something that the average account executive is going to increase their probability of success.
Not you as the president or VP. You would say, in a nutshell, your leadership style is, let me understand, solve problems, and teach. You’re definitely hands-on.
I’m literally working the calls with them. I’m doing all coaching with executives and a lot of asynchronous call coaching.
That’s probably what gets me excited. One of the things you have, which I think is dealing with so many different startup organizations and companies that are scaling up like yourself, you definitely have the, “I am sold myself on my product or service.” You have that. Nobody is going to sell ExecVision as good as you can.
That’s probably true. I’ll give you another thing. This is coming from a guy who grew up in outbound sales. In the very beginning of HubSpot inbound marketing, we had a guy named Bill Mooney, who worked for us, and was like, “Look at what these guys are doing at this HubSpot company.” We should check this out. He’s helping me build a sales training camp and business unit.
This is one of those where your initial reaction is like, “No, we’re cold callers. We don’t do any inbound marketing content. That’s all newfangled or whatever.” You leaned in. I went all early on LinkedIn, Lance. Now it’s turned into a little bit of a spam pot and building the network over time, but then, it’s unbelievably valuable.
I also believe you’ve got to look cross-discipline. I know you might be the best outbound person in the world, but don’t be that like, “I’m going to cold-call my way to all my deals.” You got to take the best of the HubSpot inbound stuff like the content. Content does matter. I’m learning things about content all the time. I learned something new about content.
In my next post on LinkedIn, I’m going to put upload slides because you can go through them. The guy set it on this blog article where he explained it all, but it basically increases the number of time people spend per slide on the post. If the time per post is higher, your likelihood and probability of going viral are bigger. It’s called the dwell time.
Is that slide with the video?
There’s no place for ego in sales.
I’m going to share this post with you because I have never seen it before and credit my marketing director, Angela, for showing this to me. This is the stuff like you always got to learn something new. I think maybe that’s my biggest philosophy at all. I see these people that think they know everything, and they’re like punk kids. I see seven-year-old people that I’ve worked with that are humble, learn, and look at their lifetime earnings. I think your lifetime earnings for people who learn versus don’t learn is very different.
I wrote three notes down. I dove into marketing since the pandemic and I have high up with some great people around me. I suddenly realized you have to be as agile there and learn that stuff. If we’re talking about marketing and leadership, it’s on everything else. I think it’s fantastic. You shared the post with me.
That brings up one last interesting good point. There’s a lot of people out there that don’t share third-party content. They pawn off ideas as their own or whatever. I disagree with that philosophy so much. If there is a great idea, somewhere give credit to the person, had a great idea, reference that person appropriately, and cite that person’s work. Share content from other people that are not you. Not only is it about more credibility and everything like that, but I also think it’s the right thing to do.
It makes you look like more of a thought leader. We had this marketing company that looked at our business and did some good things. One of the things they pressed that they didn’t like at the time was this thought of co-branding that has to go on with that. I didn’t like it at the time. I was like, “I’m going to be the experts.” I thought about all these great channel partners we have or partners like you, and like, “Why wouldn’t we leverage together as opposed to that?”
I think when you share their content, there’s an element of co-branding there or alignment or a tie-in. That’s important. I think the last couple of questions here as we bring this bird down for a landing, if you’re a salesperson reading this or a leader, what are a couple of things you want them to know about what they heard from you? I think you summed it up nicely. Let’s answer it two ways. As a leader of a company that’s scaling up and evolving, what’s your advice to some of these sales leaders right now about their business would be? I know it’s broad.
I understand what your salespeople are dealing with every day, and once in a while, make a phone call, take a schedule a call, and understand it yourself. You don’t have to do much of that. It can be 1% of your time, but the people that do it, it’s such a difference. For the average salesperson out there, that’s fighting right now. Take the horse blinders off, do what I did in the beginning, and go meet with other top performers. I don’t care if you’re at your company or somewhere else.
When you do have a notepad or electronically take notes and suspend judgment. The reason you’re observing, I’m picking that word carefully. Observation is not about judging. You’re not Simon Cowell. This is not American Idol. You’re observing and learning. You’re going to apply those lessons and test them in your world to see if they help make you more money. Put your ego on the shelf. There’s no place for ego in sales.
Rapid fires to bring this bird down for landing. You told me you have four little ones. I see them on your videos too. When you’re always posting with your headband on your outside, you’re taking care of the kids. If you have to explain success to a 7- or 8-year-old and got to speak in their terms, so you’re the orthopedic surgeon that’s giving somebody advice or telling somebody what to do on their terms, not yours. How do you describe success to your 7- or 8-year-old?
You got to love what you do. The more you leave a positive mark on everybody else around you, the better off you’re going to be, and probably the better you’re going to do.
Sales song in your head before you’re going to do a big deal. What’s the song? Who’s the artist?
I was a road warrior. Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly Away With Me. That’s my entrance song whenever I used to speak at events back in my old life.
The last question, this is my Tim Ferriss question, what book do you gift the most?
As much as I love your stuff, I have to say a guy named Tony Hughes, who’s in Australia, wrote a book called The Joshua Principle. The reason I love it is it’s a story and a narrative, and I credit Tom Snyder, my mentor, who originally turned me on to this. It’s a coming-of-age story about this troubled young sales professional who’s struggling in an enterprise sales motion and how he turns it around with a mentor. I’m not going to tell you anything more than that, but the way Tony is as a narrative is so unique, Lance. It’s very good stuff.
I wrote it down. I’m going to get it. Steve, this has been awesome. If anybody wants to connect with you as you’re growing your network, what would you want them to call?
Connect on LinkedIn because then you’re going to get the one-minute tips of the day. If I ignore the one-minute tips of the date, mute me, but keep in mind that 95% are people I’ve met along the way. I cite and reference people. Lance, I’ve got to get you on some tips of the day here too. Send me whatever you want me to put as a tip of the day. You’ve got a short slide deck. I’ll pop it up there or this new methodology. Let’s see if it works.
I will absolutely do it. Where can they check out ExecVision?
ExecVision.io, there are all sorts of resources on there. One last thing, there’s a lot of stuff about call recording. People always start asking me about call recording laws. I have become quite a mini expert on this. Not because I want it to but if you ever need any help with call recording laws, let me know about that too. I’m happy to help. Even if that means you never buy our technology, I’m happy to help because it’ll help your business grow.
Steve, this has been awesome. Thanks for being on. I appreciate your time and our partnership in the future.
You too, Lance. Thanks.