A Sales Guy's Sales Blog | All posts by Keenan, THE Sales Guy & Author of Not Taught Copy & Close


Angela Duckworth Author of the Best Selling Book GRIT, LIVE Today at 1:00 EST

Author of grit, Ted speaker, and University of Pennsylvania Professor Angela Duckworth is going will be live on The Word today, via blab.

If you want to understand the psychology to success and what truly separates the successful from the unsuccessful, you don’t want to miss this.

Register here: 

We’ll be talking live questions, it’s your chance to meet Angela and learn how you can get to the next level.


How We Made Lemonade Out of Lemons

Earlier this year, as many of the readers here know, we at A Sales Guy had big, bold, and somewhat risky marketing stunt. You can read about it and it’s abject failure here.

In a nutshell, we were going to do a pop-up event for Virgin America’s inaugural flight to Denver from San Francisco. The plan was to show up at the for the first flight from Denver to San Francisco. We were going to  give away copies of Not Taught, hand out T-shirts, Red Bull and Coffee and we even had a “red” ticket that was worth $500 dollars for one lucky winner.

We were pumped!

We bought tickets so we could go through security, we packed 200 books into suitcases, we had it nailed.

That is until we arrived aIMG_6261nd learned that the 7:30 “inaugural” flight didn’t exist and to make matters worse Virgin had created a HUGE event which included Richard Branson.  We couldn’t get within 100 miles of their event. We were preempted.

Our idea was a  bust, that’s all there is to say.

Fast forward and it all worked out.

Did we meet Richardson Branson?


Did we get to distribute 200 copies of Not Taught to Virgin passengers?


Did we get lots of coverage for a daring marketing stunt and increase coverage for the book?


IMG_6259What we got was better.

For the event, we had ordered custom shirts to hand out with the books. Rather than throwing them away, we went to the local shelter and gave them away.

It was awesome, they went in seconds. We sat and talked with the people and got to hang with them. They were unbelievable grateful. One particular person was wearing a sweatshirt, and that’s all he had. It was 97 degrees outside. He was thrilled to get a t-shirt.

We had a blast, we took pictures, hung out, and laughed.

It was so much fun, we’ve decided to do it again, but this time we’re going to give away free lunch.

It sucked that our event was a bust. I mean a complete bust, but in the end, it worked out. We made a lot of people happy and that’s what it’s all about.

I’m glad we failed, ’cause in the end, we won.



That Moment When

That moment when . . .

I noticed the beautiful little girl, with giant blue eyes, and ghost white hair. She had a younger sister that looked just like her sitting quietly on her dad’s chest in a chest carrier.   However, unlike her sister, she was anything but quiet.  Standing between her mom’s legs, this little girl was unhappy.  I could see the independent streak in this little firecracker. Not a day older than 3, this toddler knew exactly what she wanted and no one, not ever her Mom were going to deter her.

I sat and watched.

We were on the train at the Denver International Airport. I was coming home from Indianapolis, I don’t know where they were coming from, but they had two carry-on suitcases. So, my guess, they were on a short vacation, but if you’ve had kids, you understand, long or short trips, it doesn’t matter with the little ones.

Dad was leaning against the railing by the door. He had his youngest daughter attached to his chest. He was holding the telescopes of the two suite cases, to keep them from rolling away. Next to him, his wife was holding their other daughter, the disgruntled one. The train was stopped, anticipating the jerk as it was about to move, Mom tried to get this little firecracker to grab the rail.  But she wasn’t having it.

That moment when . . .

I could see the belligerence in her eyes. Knowing nothing about jerking trains, or the risk of crowds, not limited by social constructs and politeness, this little girl knew all she wanted was to stand on her own, not holding the rail and roam around the train and Mom was in her way.

Mom was diligent. Constrained by her knowledge, she didn’t have the liberty to let her little girl do what she wanted.

Thus the fireworks began.

The moment when . . .

Her daughter lost it. She started kicking and screaming. Her mom picked her up and the tantrum increased. This blue eyed beauty began hitting and pulling her mother’s hair. The brown beaded necklace she was wearing was being yanked and pulled by all the fury of a two-year-old being denied. Her daughter was uncontrollable.

The moment when . . .

I saw the helplessness visible on Dad’s face.  Saddled with the luggage and his other daughter, Dad could do nothing but watch, helplessly. The desperation and helplessness were apparent. He was frozen, unable to help, yet absorbing all the frustration of the situation.  Mom was on here own, and he could not rescue her.

The train lurches forward, and the scene plays out for 1o minutes and the two stops it takes to get to the terminal.  Once at the terminal, the doors open, mom reaches down picks up her daughter, and they head up the escalator.

The moment when . . .

I’m riding up the adjacent escalator, and I am suddenly hit with all of the emotions from when my daughters had their breakdowns. The times when I felt helpless and unable to get my children under control. I remembered. The emotions were so raw; I felt them as if they had just happened yesterday.

The moment when . . .

Filled with these memories and an appreciation for what she was feeling I leaned across the elevator, tapped her arm and said. “I’ve been there. It’s gonna get better.”

The moment when . . .

She lifted her head, exhaled and said; “Thank you, I have never wanted to be so invisible in my entire life.”

I smiled and said anyone who had kids understood and anyone who doesn’t doesn’t matter.

The moment when . . .

She smiled a huge smile. I saw everything in her change. Her face lit up, her shoulders dropped. She exhaled, and you could see the stress, anguish, embarrassment, and frustration leave in that single breath.

The moment when  . . .

I realized that it’s the simplest things that change people’s lives. That it doesn’t take much to make a difference. That connecting with someone’s emotions and feelings is all it takes to make an impact.

The moment when . . .

I’m reminded of the power of empathy.

I walked off that elevator with goose bumps, tears welling in my eyes.  This beautiful woman, with a loving husband, and two gorgeous daughters was just desperate to be acknowledged, to be told it was OK, and she almost didn’t get it.

The moment when . . .

I realized that empathy in sales comes from empathy in life.

The greatest salespeople in the world are tremendously empathetic, and I believe this trait is developed in everyday life, not in the deal.

Empathy in life is where the best salespeople learn to connect, to embrace and engage with others. Living lives connected to others feelings and emotions comes with the on the job

The moment when . . .

You are aksing yourself if you’re the empathetic person you need to be.  Are you developing your empathy outside of the deal?

You should be.


Note To SDR’s (Sales Development Reps) Your Job Is Arguably The Most Important Job In Sales


I work with a lot of SDR’s (also called BDR’s, Inside Sales Reps and more) and one of the things I often see is how many of them can’t wait to get promoted to account executive. For many SDRs, the role of setting appointments and being the first line of qualification is less than glamorous.  Often, it’s not just the SDR’s who feel this way; it often pervades an entire organization’s culture, perpetuated by management.

For many SDRs, the role of setting appointments and being the first line for prospect qualification is less than glamorous.  Often, it’s not just the SDR’s who feel this way; it often pervades an entire organization’s culture, perpetuated by management.

SDRs are seen as the grunts too often, and that’s a shame, it needs to stop.

The world of sales has changed dramatically in the past ten years and at the center of this shift is the addition of sales development reps. These reps are responsible for picking the good from the bad AND teeing up the good.

It’s this latter part that I focus on most and use to differentiate great SDRs from average SDRs.

Whether from a marketing download or a from a cold call, the job of the SDR is to convince a prospect to have a meeting, to sit through a demo, etc.  It’s the SDR’s job to create demand, enough demand that the prospect is not only willing to meet with a salesperson but wants to meet with a salesperson.  There is a big difference between willing to meet and wants to meet and the best SDRs get prospects to want to meet with your sales people.

Ya don’t think there is a big difference between wants and willing?  How different do you think the call is gonna go if the prospect was willing to meet with you vs. wants to meet with you. Yeah, I thought so. I’ll take wants to any day of the week.

Getting prospects or buyers to want to meet starts with recognizing that the meeting, the demo or whatever action you want the buyer to take IS the sale.  Great SDR’s understand that the meeting they are trying to get the prospect to take is their closed deal. It’s their sale and therefore, like any other sale, they have to provide enough value that the prospects says; yes, I will trade my time for your information, demo, or whatever it is you’re offering for their time.

Don’t think this is a small effort. In today’s world time is just as valuable and in many cases more valuable than money.  Unlike money, time is finite. In some organizations, it’s easier for a buyer to get budget than it is for them to prioritize the time to pay attention to you.

Make no mistake, sales development reps are sales people. Instead of product or service and dollars being the consideration, it’s time and information.

Great SDRs have to figure out how to create a large enough value proposition to get buyers to trade their highly guarded, highly in demand time for your information.  Give that some thought for a second. Don’t just brush right over that.  People’s time is so highly guarded these days. If an SDR is unable to demonstrate why the information your Account Executive has, or the demo will highlight or . . . is worth 15, 30, 45, 60 minutes of the prospects time, they’re not gonna give it the SDR or Account Executive and that my friends is a lost sale.

SDR’s are legit sales people, with a legitimate sales cycle. It may not result in ultimately winning the business, but the business can’t be won without that first sale — getting that first meeting.

SDRs, if you’re feeling like you’re not a real salesperson cut it out, because getting people to give up their time, is the real deal. Get good at the fundamentals and learn how to get prospects to want to meet with your account executives, not just be willing to. Get good at knowing what questions to ask to uncover opportunities. Get good at positioning the value of the meeting. Get good at positioning yourself as an expert, the first line of expertise in solving the pressing business problem your company can solve. Get good at these things and you’ll quickly realize there is nothing remedial or entry-level about being and SDR.

Selling is selling, and whether you’re selling a $500,00 SaaS solution or a 45-minute demo, the rules still apply.

Is there enough value in what you’re offering your prospect for them to give up their time? There should be!

Remember my SDR friends, there is no sale without you, stand tall, be proud and get damn good. You are worth your weight in gold.




#heykeenan Take 25 — Does Gender Matter in Sales?

In Take 25 of #heykeenan I take on gender in sales and why great salespeople don’t become great sales leaders.

I have a passion for woman’s issues in the workplace, so I loved it when I got this question.


Women in sales is a real issue, and so is promoting the right people into the right roles.  This Take was a fun one. I also share a little-known fact about the Brexit, enjoy!!


Check out this episode of The Word with former Qwest COO Teresa Tayor and Sales Author Jill Konrath.  We talk all about women in sales.  It’s very informative.




Budget vs Affordability – There Is a Difference

NOw only $55,000


af.ford.a.bil.i.ty – noun — the fact of being cheap enough that people can afford to buy it or pay it

budg.et – noun — an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time

Notice, the definitions are not the same, but yet too many sales people treat them like they are.

It’s not uncommon for a salesperson or even the entire sales organization to accept a customer can’t afford their product or service because a customer or prospect says they don’t have the budget.  This is a HUGE mistake because not having the budget is not the same a being able to afford something.

Yes, not having the budget is tough. I get it. When an organization doesn’t have the budget, it makes the sale more difficult. You have to bring your A-game. You have to show tremendous value. Getting a buyer to exceed budget or reallocate budget to buy is legit selling, mastered by but a few truly bad ass sales people.

Making this happen requires a keen and powerful expression of the value proposition and its impact on the buyer’s organization.  Without it, buyers will wait or just not buy.  The risk or concern for exceeding the budget does not exceed the value proposition.

Let me say that again.

When a buyer doesn’t have the budget, if you want to get the sale the solution no only has to provide enough value to be worth the price, it has to provide enough value to be worth the price PLUS exceeding budget or stealing budget from another line item.

Affordability, on the other hand, has nothing to do with the budget. Affordability simply means the buyer does or doesn’t have the money.  It either exists, or it doesn’t. Affordability doesn’t address a willingness to spend money, or not. Affordability only addresses the availability of money for an organization to pay. When it comes to sales, this is a substantial differentiation.

When an organization can’t afford something, when they say they don’t have the money, move on.  The phrase you can’t get blood from a turnip applies. They can’t give what they don’t have.

When an organization doesn’t have the budget, well that’s a very different situation. When an organization says they don’t have the budget, what they are saying is the weren’t planning on spending money at this time, on this type of solution. It doesn’t mean they don’t have it.

When a customer or prospect says they don’t have the budget, that’s not the same as saying they can’t afford it.

When a customer can’t afford it. The sale is over, walk away.

When a customer doesn’t have the budget, the deal just gets more complicated.  It’s time to hone in on the value proposition and the impact to the organization. When lack of budget is present, that’s the time to show ROI calculations or address opportunity costs. This is the time to demonstrate that sticking to the budget costs MORE than sticking to the budget.  If the return is there, the budget will be found. You just have to work a little harder.

People WILL find “the budget” if the value is there.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming budget and affordability are the same. They’re NOT!!!  Thinking they are is the sign of a rookie sales person. Don’t sell like a rookie.




What You Really Mean When You Say; “I Didn’t Have the Time.”

Ask yourself how many times in a day, a week or month you say, “I didn’t have time.”

We all do it.  It’s a common default phrase we are all guilty of.

The truth is, however, our inability to get things done or commit to things has nothing to do with time. In Spazz Out 4, I break down why time is NOT your problem.


What are you prioritizing?  How are you using your time? Is it on the right things?

Stop blaming time, it’s not “times” fault.



Why America Will Never Be Great!



Happy 4th of July or is it Happy Independence Day?  I didn’t think it mattered, as I figured they were interchangeable, however apparently according to a friend of mine, they are not.  I learned this because he posted so on his Facebook page.

He posted this:

If you wish American citizens “Happy 4th of July” instead of “Happy Independence Day” you’re a Canadian
Go back to your own country you Hoser

This seems like a terribly hostile post for a day that should be about coming together and being united. I just don’t get it. It seems division and hostility are the tools of choice today and that we’re becoming more and more divided than we have ever been. Facebook for all its wonders in connecting us, is doing a masterful job in dividing us. I mean who hasn’t woken up, read a post and was like; Holy shit! My friend, my Uncle, my daughter, my neighbor, my boss, my coworker believes WHAT????  They are crazy.

Facebook and social media have had an interesting effect on our society. They’ve given voice to our inside voice. You know the inside voice, the voice we’re not supposed to let out. The voice where we keep our thoughts and opinions to ourselves as not to be perceived as offensive or disrespectful. You know the inside voice, the one your mother taught you should never be mistaken for your outside voice.

Well, they’re out now! We can’t put them back. I think that’s why they called them our inside voices, and we weren’t supposed to let them out. ‘Cause once they’re out, you can’t put them back.

So now that our collective inside voices are out, what are they saying? What are our collective inside voices saying?

Here’s my take.

They’re saying America isn’t who she should be; they’re saying America isn’t great. Regardless of what side of the isle the voice is coming from, they are all saying America isn’t great. One side wants to go back to some arbitrary time in the past when we were great. I’m not sure exactly when that is, but they seem terribly excited to get there. The other side is saying America needs to move forward; again I’m not sure to “where” but they are pretty frickin’ certain that we need to get there in a hurry.  And you know what, both sides are right. America isn’t a great country. We weren’t great yesterday, we aren’t great today, and we won’t be great tomorrow.

Now before you get your panties too wadded up, let me explain.

America’s greatness or lack thereof has little to do with where we are today, and it never has. America’s greatness isn’t steeped in where are today and what amazing things we’ve accomplished, nor is our lack of greatness steeped in the ills and pains we’ve yet to resolve.  America’s greatness isn’t, nor should it be measured in where we are or what we’ve attained but rather in our ability to improve and grow.

America was formed with the most amazing idea ever conceived by man for its governance; that everyone is created equal, that all men (people) are endowed with inalienable rights, and the right to freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  In spite of the greatness of these ideas, America did not represent them upon its birth. Actually, far from it. Our greatness was not cemented on that day, but in all the subsequent days, years, and generations where we acted on those principles inching the country closer to those ideals. Our greatness is our constant, on going desire and ability to embrace and strive toward the ideals of our forefathers, little by little, step by step, from generation to generation we’ve grown. Our greatness is in our commitment to be closer to living to the principles.

America’s greatness is NOT and can not be in what we achieved because there is always work to be done. There will always be the disenfranchised. There will always be injustice. There will always be more work, and that is why we will never be finished, the dream will never be reached.

Our history’s greatness is marked in strides; strides in equality, justice, and freedom. Starting with the bill of rights, America has enjoyed monumental leaps, while other times baby steps, but in the end, progress has always been the hallmark of our greatness. Every generation has had more freedom and more opportunity than the generation before it.

Every one of these strides has had its detractors.  Americans, who, with all the best intentions and led by the belief that our greatness was in the moment, have battled progress and stood in the path of our growth. From our independence to slavery, to Native American rights, to women’s suffrage, to civil rights, to gay rights, and more, a large swath of our nation have stood steadfast against our mission to bestow the American ideals on all its citizens. They chose instead, to defend the America they knew as the America that should be. They argued America was done, that we were already great, that growth or change was not needed. Thank God, they lost.

They didn’t understand what makes America great. The didn’t understand what we are about. They saw America as a destination and felt we had arrived. We hadn’t.

You see,  America isn’t the greatest country in the world for who we are today, who we were yesterday or who we will be tomorrow. America is great for who we CAN BE! 

It’s this idea of an America that is never at rest, an America that always seeks out injustice, not safety that defines us. It’s an America that continually seeks to create opportunity, not suppress it that defines us. It’s an America that committed greater and greater inclusion that defines us.

Fear has become a guiding force, and we now find ourselves fighting among ourselves about how messed up America is, whose fault it is and why we have to fix it right away. Sorry people, I have a message for you. America is not messed up.  By no means is America broken, not yet anyway.  Yes, we have tons of problems. Yes, people are hurting. Yes, we appear divided, but the truth is there has NEVER been a better time for EVERYONE to be American than today. There is more opportunity today than ever before, for everyone. We are living to our creed more today than at any time in our history. However, there is more work to be done, and that is where our greatness rests, in our pursuit of that work.

If you’re looking for the day that America is great “again.” You are looking at it all wrong. America’s greatness is not behind us.  If you’re complaining that America is not great and that we are not living to our creed, you too are looking at it all wrong. We will never achieve our creed. We are humans, and therefore so is the soul of this country we call America and we will always have flaws. So if you’re looking for the day we achieve that greatness, you will be waiting a long time.

Where we should be celebrating and cementing our thoughts is on our ability and commitment to evolve, to grow and embrace, one small victory at a time. We should be embracing the idea that the forefathers laid out, that our greatness rests not in who we are, but who we can be. America is not a destination. America is a vision, one that can never be truly achieved. America is an idea, an endless journey of commitment towards an infinite, unreachable goal. America is not, nor can we be a destination and that is where our greatness lies. The minute we accept America as a destination, the light will be snuffed out. We are an idea constantly being strived for. America is a vision of what could be, not what is and that vision is what we must allow to endure.

On this Independence Day or 4th of July, whatever version floats your boat, ask yourself, in addition to our independence, what are you celebrating? Are you celebrating who we are or who we could be? Because, unlike the moniker Happy Independence Day or Happy 4th of July, it matters.

America is not great because of who we are; we are great because of who we can be and our commitment to that American ideal.

We’ve always been great and we must keep striving FORWARD to remain great!

(Oh yeah, on the topic or Happy Independence Day or Happy 4th of July, if you give shit about what OTHER people call it, you are entirely missing the point. Call it what you want, and enjoy the day!)

Jon of All Trades Podcast

I did this podcast last week with Jon Ekstrom.  He’s a fantastic interviewer.  I really liked this interview.  He pulled some good personal stuff out of me.  I go off on a couple of rants.

I really enjoyed doing this podcast.


I think you guys will like this. It’s a great, casual conversation about sales, business norms, expectations, authenticity and more.

Be sure to check out Jon’s other Podcasts as well.  He’s talented.