Top Sales Influencer Jim Keenan's Blog


#heykeenan Take 8 How to Get Sales and Marketing on the Same Page

#heykeenan Take 8 is out. In this take, I break down how to get sales and marketing the same page, what to do when a prospect goes dark. I’m also giving away some free swag.

Do you have any questions for me?  Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook with the #hashtag #heykeenan. You shout out, I’ll shout back.

The One Thing Every Sales Email Needs, But is Lacking

One of the biggest problem I see in sales today, particularly with SDRs (Sales Development Reps) is that their email requests are unable to provide 30 minutes of value. And to make matters worse, their company, their sales organization isn’t helping them out.

At the beginning of every sales process there is an ask, every sale starts with an email or phone request asking to meet with a prospective buyer. This “request” is a request for the buyer’s time. 

The SDR asks the buyer for 15, 30, 60 minutes of their time.  On the surface, this appears to be an innocuous request, but here’s the problem. In almost EVERY case, the SDR, and therefore, the company isn’t providing enough value for the thirty minutes they’re asking for.  

This is a big problem.

Make no mistake people, when you ask someone for 30 minutes, you’re entering into an agreement, a transaction of time for something in exchange and therefore, you better be sure that something is of equal or greater value than the 30 minutes you’re requesting.

I’m gonna let it set in for a second. I know, few of you have ever looked at it like that. And don’t even try to argue with me. The countless email requests I’ve received or read tell me all I need to know. There is little value in them emails.

When you ask a person for 30 minutes of their time, you are asking for A LOT.  That is a big ask. 

Time is the greatest asset we have. It’s no longer a commodity. Time is an extremely valuable and rare resource people are guarding with extraordinary zeal. The pressures on people’s time has never been so great. We are inundated with requests, projects, deliverables, and more all demanding our time. Therefore, time is not a freely shared resource any longer. People require, no demand, a return on their time and if you as a sales person can not deliver that value, you aren’t going to get the call.

Here’s an email I recently received,

Hello Jim,

Deena asked me to reach out and schedule an introduction to our latest product XYZ.  I am available this week for a quick webinar.  It should only take a few minutes to give you the overview and then we can chat about specific use cases.

Let me know a couple options that work with your schedule and we can meet.

Let’s forget the fact that I have NO idea who Deena is. This email offers NOTHING for one minute of my time. There is nothing in this request that even acknowledges the value of my time, nevermind something in exchange for it.  Why would I say YES? And this is the problem with too many SDR and salespeople’s requests.

You give them NO reason to say YES!

If you want to get 30 minutes of someones time, you have to create enough value for that 30 minutes. You have to offer enough value that the person you want to meet with says to themselves; “Hmmmm, that sounds interesting. I’ll find 30 minutes of my time for that.

What kind of Value?

Well, that’s for you to decide with the help of marketing and sales leadership. However, considering you can’t wait for your company to get their shit together, you can start by asking these two questions every time you send out an email or make a phone call request.

Why would this person give me 30 minutes of their time? Why? Why is what I’m offering for 30 minutes worth it? If you can’t answer both of those questions, don’t ask. Just put down the phone, or stop writing and step away from computer, before you waste more of anyone else’s time.

If you’re selling a product that has any intrinsic business value at all, this shouldn’t be that hard.  Start by asking, what business problem does this solve for the person I’m calling? What impact can our product or service have on this person’s environment? Starting here allows you to frame the value of your request. It gets you focused on your buyer and your buyers world.

Once you know the real business value or product or service solves, then turn it into an offer for their time.

If your product helps companies avoid risking noncompliance issues than a request that offers insight into how to avoid specific, yet common compliance issues might be worth 30 minutes.


I was hoping to get 30 minutes of your time to talk about how I might be able to save you thousands in non-compliance fees and avoid common non compliance infractions often found in your industry. Our product has a proven track record of saving our clients x dollars and administrative overhead in the area of non-compliance.

If you’re looking for a streamlined, more effective way to manage compliance and non-compliance issues, this 30 minutes could provide tremendous value.

I’m available at these times, let me know what works best for you or feel free to offer a time that works best for you


A Sales Rep That Values Your Time.

Buyers want to be paid for their time. That payment is in terms of value. If your emails or phones calls can’t offer 30 minutes of value, don’t ask for it. It’s not fair and few people will give it to you.

Do you offer 30 minutes of value?  Is it obvious to buyers? It better be!  That’s the only way you’re gonna get it. 




Completely Inappropriate Sales Person Interview (But Funny as Sh*t)

I stumbled across this old Jerky Boys clip a little while back and I just had to share it. It’s someone responding to a job ad for a care sales person. It’s frickin’ funny.

It’s completely inappropriate, but it’s funny as shit.  You’ve been warned. If you don’t like profanity, don’t hit play.

For the rest of you. Enjoy the laugh!

#heykeenan Take 7 When Buyers Don’t See They Have a Need

It’s not uncommon for me to see sales people desperately selling to buyers who don’t see they have a need for what they’re selling.

In #heykeenan Take 7 I break down how you can get buyers to see your value and why they need you.  It’s all about closing the gap.

And if you haven’t already, check out all the #heykeenan’s and subscribe to my Youtube Channel.  As I said the other day. I’m doing a lot more video and a little less writing. Same exciting, actionable, relevant topics as always, just now in video.


Capability vs Execution

A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page.

One day, when I’m wildly (or even just mildly) successful, I’m gonna blame my parents for tricking me into thinking I was capable. I mean thanks.

This was my response to her. I put it in a meme and post on Facebook.


Capability is useless without execution. Capability means nothing without doing. You can’t do anything without actually trying to do it. Getting wrapped up in the idea of whether or not one is “capable” is just wasted breath.

Capability is the result of your effort to actually get out there and try. The more you try, the more capable you are.

Who cares if you’re capable?

Care about whether or not you’re willing to keep failing, keep trying, and keep learning. If you’re capable of failing and getting back up. That’s all the capability you need.


I’m Still Here

Hey peeps, I’m sure some of you have been wondering, where the hell have I been. My blogging is down. I know. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with for a while. I’m not producing nearly the number of posts this community has become accustomed to.

The reason is three-fold.

One, I’ve been blogging for 6 years and I’m struggling to come up with fresh, unique content every day. It’s frickin’ hard. I’ve got mad love for Anthony Iannarino, Seth Godin and Fred Wilson. These cats produce content EVERY frickin’ day, not missing a beat.  I don’t know how they do it, but props. I haven’t figured out that formula yet, thus the decline in my frequency.

Reason two is, I’m producing a LOT more video content. I’m not going to say I’m switching to video from blogging because that’s not gonna happen, but it is taking time I traditionally spend blogging. If you’re not subscribed to my Youtube channel, you’re only getting half of Keenan.

The final reason, I’ve been writing a book, and it’s been a lot more challenging than I originally thought it would be.  It’s almost done, so that should give me some time back.  If you haven’t already, help me pick out the cover here: Pick the cover for Keenan’s new book. 

In spite of these three reasons, I’m not OK with them as excuses. I’m still blogging and although my frequency has declined, you can expect it will increase.

I’m still here.

#heykeenan Take 6: My Favorite Sales Acceleration Tool

Sales acceleration tools are blowing up today.  They are coming at us 100 miles and hour. They provide tons of value across all aspects of the selling ecosystem. In this Take of #heykeenan I talk about the sales tool I’m most diggin’ right now.

I’ve been having a blast doing #heykeenan and we’ve invested in making production better, from better lighting, new camera, a full-time editor, and more.  I hope you’re noticing.

You have a question for me?  Get asking on Twitter at #heykeenan. You shout out and I’ll shout back!

The Real Definition of Hard Work

How do you define hard work?  Is your definition, simply defined as any work that is “hard”?  I was pondering this thought the other day, and it’s a very real question when it comes to defining success.

What makes hard work, hard work?

Is something hard work if you like doing it?  Is it hard work when you are energized, excited and thrilled about doing it?  Can we call it hard work if we like doing it?

Is hard work any work that is difficult, complex, arduous, onerous, strenuous, time-consuming, painful, etc.? Is that hard work? What if the work is easy, can we call that hard work?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no. The definition of hard work is much bigger than that. I believe hard work is defined as the things we don’t want to do. It’s the mental component of hard work that makes the work hard.  It’s not hard work we struggle with, but rather the work we don’t like.

It’s the stair training. It’s the paperwork. It’s the leg work out. No one likes leg day.  It’s working when we’re tired. It’s the pool work when you don’t like swimming. It’s the hill climbs. It’s reading the contract. It’s the editing. It’s the cold calls. It’s the research. It’s the writing the proposal. It’s inputting shit in Salesforce. It’s all the crap we can’t stand doing, no matter how big or how small, that hard work is.

It’s not about how hard the work is, but rather how much we like it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 12.04.59 PM

When we don’t like something, it becomes exponentially harder. It’s hard because our motivation to do it, to keep doing it, to do it right becomes compromised.

The Easy Zone – When the work is easy to do, and you like it. It’s not hard work. It’s that simple. No one argues it’s hard work. We do everything in the easy zone. The easy zone is like being on vacation or our hobbies. When something is easy to do, and we love it, and it gets done.

The Convincer Zone(s) – The convincer zones are danger zones. They convince us we’re doing hard work because the work isn’t easy. But, the truth is, it’s not hard work either. The convincer zones make us work harder than we want to, but they aren’t hard work.  In the convincer zones, we are working on things that may be difficult, complex, strenuous or time consuming, but we like them. We enjoy doing them, so it’s truly not hard work.  Other times the convincer zone lures us into believing we’re working hard because we’re doing shit we hate. It may not strenuous, complex, time-consuming or difficult, but we hate it. We don’t like doing it. Therefore, we see it as hard work and convince ourselves we’re working hard.

The convincers zones create a wall to greatness. The keep us from truly attaining greatness, because they convince us that we’re working hard without going that extra mile. The wall to greatness walls us off from the promise land. It convinces us we’re doing what we need to do to crush it, even when we’re not.

Real Hard Work Zone – The real hard work zone is the only zone that truly represents hard work. When we don’t like doing something, and it’s fucking difficult, complex, strenuous, demanding, grueling, tedious, or exhausting it’s hard work.  The Real Hard Work Zone is what we get to when we power through the wall.  The real hard work zone takes real discipline. When we’re truly working hard, we’re playing at a different level. We’re outside our comfort zone and the only thing motivating us to spend time doing things we don’t like that are difficult, painful, complicated and onerous is a desire to win, to succeed.

If you want break out, get to the next level, crush it, and pull ahead of the competition learn how to get good at doing really hard work, work that you don’t like to do AND is really, really hard.



#heykeenan Take 4 – How New Sales People Can Differentiate Themselves

We’re having a blast with #heykeenan.

I loved this question. I was even more impressed with Eric Swensons awareness that differentiation matters in sales. Way to go Eric, way to go my man!

Differentiating yourself as a salesperson is a big deal. It’s not just for new sales people. If you don’t know why you’re the bomb, why you’re the shit as a sales person, it’s time to figure it out.

What differentiates you?

What questions do you want me to answer? Consider #heykeenan as your own personal coach. Come on now, get askin’! Hit me up on Twitter @keenan, hashtag #heykeenan

I’m waiting!

Sales People Should Never Do A Demo Under These Circumstances

Read this closely.  It’s critical. It may make your stomach a little queasy but, you’ll get over it.

You don’t owe anyone a demo. Just because a prospect or buyer asks for a demo, you don’t owe it to them, and therefore you don’t have to give them one.

Demos are NOT webinars.  “Demos should not be used to demonstrate your product, but rather to show how your product can affect your buyer’s business.”  And it’s for this reason that you should never, ever give a demo if your prospect or buyer doesn’t agree to a discovery process first.

Without a robust discovery built into your demo process, you CAN’T give a powerful demo.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, what it if the prospect or buyer won’t do a discovery process? Then don’t schedule the demo and politely let them know that a 30-minute discovery call is required before the demo, to ensure an effective demo that maps to their needs and requirements.

A demo without a discovery process is a waste of time.  If a buyer wants to see the product, but won’t give you the time to do discovery first, point them to your company’s weekly product webinar. If your company doesn’t do a weekly product demo webinar, ask them to start.

A robust discovery process is about understanding the needs, motivations, issues, problems and challenges of your buyers current situation. It gives you the foundation for crafting a customized, targeted demo that allows the buyer to see how the product will fit into their organization and how it will solve their personal and unique issues.

There is one additional element to this demo thing.  Do NOT attempt to do the discovery at the same time of the demo. Doing discovery for 5 or 10 minutes at the beginning of the demo is foolish. It steals valuable demo time, and it’s almost impossible to customize the demo on the fly.  It’s a messy approach. You can’t get enough information about their business, they often eat up more than five or ten minutes of the call, making the demo feel rushed. Schedule the demo separately and set up the discovery process at few days before the demo. This way you have adequate time to evaluate the information and create a killer, customized demo from what you learn.

A sick demo process looks like this:

1) A weekly “open” demo via webinar – This is an open webinar that walks prospects through the basics of your product. It highlights key differentiators, features, and benefits. Its purpose is to give buyers early in the process a chance to “see it,” without burning too sales time.  It’s open to multiple participants, and folks can sign up via the web. It also acts as a lead generator, capturing names and contact info of participants.

2) Discovery process -The objective of the call is to get a solid understanding of what’s driving the buyers interest in your product and service and what problems they are experiencing. What do they want to fix? The discovery process should be 30 minutes for most companies. Longer than 30 minutes is a big ask for that early in the sales cycle, shorter than 30 minutes makes it difficult to get enough information.  I’ve heard of some companies having success with 20-minute discovery calls, you just have to be very diligent to make them work.

3) Demo – The demo is your chance to show the value of your product or service to your buyer. It should be no more than an hour.  It should focus on no more than 3 or 4 key features that directly align with your customers needs as identified by the discovery process.  It should anchor the customer in the value of your solution for solving their unique problems and challenges.

I recommend scheduling the discovery and the demo at the same time. This makes it feel like a complete process or program, not two separate meetings. It’s best to schedule the discovery process three days before the demo.  For ex: “It would be my pleasure to do a demo for you. Our demo process consists of two steps, a 30-minute discovery process to understand your business and how you’re currently doing (insert business process here), and then a customized demo afterward. This ensures we maximize the demo experience showing you only the features and capabilities that matter most to you and your business.”

If the prospect says no to the discovery process, then politely send them to the webinar. Suggest that if, after that, they want to see more, it might make sense to them to the discovery. Whatever you do, do NOT do a demo without a discovery call.

You don’t owe your buyer or prospect a demo. Just because they ask, doesn’t mean you have to give them one. Don’t get out of wack, your buyer needs to invest in the sales process just as much as you.

No discovery, no demo!