Top Sales Influencer Jim Keenan's Blog


#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!



#heykeenan Take 3 — What’s An Acceptable Level Of Employee Churn

In this #heykeenan I share my take on what an acceptable level of churn is for a sales organization.

Some level of churn is expected, but what’s acceptable, that’s an entirely different question.

We’re having fun with #heykeenan. So ask your question on Twitter or FB using the hashtag #heykeenan and I’ll answer your questions.

Check out all the Takes on Youtube and until next time,

You shout out, I’ll shout back!

Wisdom Goes Out The Window When Emotion Comes Through The Door

You ever wonder why deals can go south so quick, for no apparent reason?  Have you ever had a deal that seemed like it was cruising along perfectly when boom, it falls apart. Objections start flying from leftfield; the prospect becomes erratic, they stop meeting commitments, they keep changing their mind and deadlines start slipping.

This craziness is usually the result of too much emotion getting into the sales cycle. When emotion comes through the door, wisdom goes out the window.

When emotion comes through the door, wisdom goes out the window.

Most people suck at making good decisions when they are emotional. Emotion impacts our ability to see things clearly. We can become anxious and unpredictable when too much emotion enters our decision process.

In the world of selling, emotion affects the sale in two ways, when you become too emotional and when the customer becomes too emotional.

When you become too emotional, you push too hard afraid the deal could be crumbling. You negotiate a shitty deal, with a super low price. Salespeople do crazy things when too much emotion enters the sales process.  For salespeople, fear is usually the emotion that comes into play, fear of losing the deal, fear of missing quota, fear of not making a commission.  Fear is a nasty emotion for sales people to contend with.

To prevent fear from coming in the door, the best thing salespeople can do is build a solid pipeline. The more deals you have in the pipe, the more active deals you have, the less fear there is you won’t make quota, you don’t get the deal or that you won’t make enough money.  The best salve for the ailment of fear in sales is the pipeline. The bigger your pipeline, the less room for emotion to come through the door.

When it comes to your customers or prospects emotion is part of the game. Change, by nature, is emotional. Remember, sales is all about change and change is scary. Therefore, the key with your customers and prospects isn’t to keep emotion from coming through the door; it’s to ensure it’s the appropriate emotion. The key is to keep out fear, anger, frustration and sadness and let in happiness, excitement, optimism, calm, and confidence. These emotions work in your favor. Wisdom goes out the door no matter which emotion comes through the door, so the key is to ensure it’s positive emotion.

To get your prospects or customers feeling good and not scared requires you get down and dirty in their business. You need to understand their motivations and the impact of change to them personally. It’s about creating a compelling vision of what could be or a future state and fear and frustration towards the current state. When we anchor our prospects and clients in fear or frustration in the current state we’re using emotion to our advantage. Remember, emotion is inherent to sales because change is inherent to sales. If prospects and customers are going to make emotional decisions, it’s best to have them make emotional decisions in your favor.

Wisdom goes out the window when emotion comes through the door. It’s the way of the world. Therefore, the best salespeople prepare for emotion and know how to keep it from entering their world and how to ensure the positive enters their buyers.


I’m Going To Learn How To Do A Mute Grab 360 #mysummerproject

I decided to spend my summer learning something I’ve never done before. Summers are great for this kind of thing. We seem to have a bit more time than the rest of the year. Summers are time boxed. For some reason, we look at summer different than all the other seasons. We’re obsessed with the beginning and the end of the summer season.

Therefore, I made the commitment to learn to do a Mute Grab 360. (Watch the video and see what a Mute Grab 360 is)

I’m excited about this. It’s gonna be fun, and hard.

I’m going to be working on this all summer at an indoor free ride park here in Colorado, and then I will Meerkat or Periscope my first on snow attempt, for the entire world to see.

I’ll be updating you on my progress all summer long.

So, what’s your summer project?

Find one and share it at hashtag #mysummerproject and let’s make this summer epic.

The Great Create, The Good Consume and The Poor Ignore

I was reading this killer post the other day, and it got me thinking.  The post addressed what we do in our free time, but it was this quote that got my synapses firing:

Decide when you are consuming and when you are creating

As I read it, I was struck by the simplicity of the statement, but even more by the power of its implication. It implies that everyone creates or consumes, and it’s this assertion that had my mind going crazy.

I do not believe everyone consumes and even fewer create.

I think only the great create. I think the good consume and the poor ignore.

The Poor Ignore

Unfortunately, this group represents too many people Those who are poor at what they do, or underperformers are underperformers because they ignore much of the world around them. Not only do they NOT create, they don’t’ even consume. Poor performers don’t consume information on a regular basis. They don’t look to learn. Deliberate learning is not part of their agenda. Poor performers do only what’s required if that. They don’t focus on value but rather on taking. They ignore advice, lessons, insights and more. Poor performers follow the letter to the law and do just enough to keep their head above water, which in turn never works out and they ultimately underdeliver and fail.

Underperformers ignore their short comings. The have substantial blind spots and can not be relied on to own or correct their behavior. Poor performers ignore the rules and the cultural norms. Poor performers ignore much of what’s around them, to their demise and that of the organizations in which they are involved.

Poor performers are poor performers precisely because the do little consuming and almost NO creating.

The Good Consume

The good consume, they are committed to growth and learning. The good understand the importance of information and knowledge. The good are committed to improvement. They appreciate the world is dynamic and in order to keep up they must constantly be growing, and that growth comes from the consumption of knowledge.

The good aren’t prodigious creators. They spend more time absorbing and consuming information than they do creating. The good are your social media lurkers. They don’t create much content, but they absorb a lot of it. The good consume stuff, they just don’t create much.

The good consume the creations of the great. They recognize the value of the new process, the new product, the new software, the new music, the new movie, the new website, the new accounting method, the new blog, the new . . . whatever. But they aren’t going to be the one to create it.

The good consume and use what the great create.

The Great Create

Great people create; that’s what makes them great. The great create ideas, books, movies, stories, approaches, methodologies, theorems, buildings, gardens, cars, computers, software, companies, clothes, math, discoveries, workflows, processes and more. The great are great because they are creators and the more they create, the bigger their creations and the more impact of their creations the greater they are.

Lemme drop it to you straight. You can’t be great if you don’t create.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Marting Luther King, The Founding Fathers, Warren Buffet, Henry Ford, Gandhi, Einstein, The Beatles (Paul McCartney and John Lennon), Charles Darwin, DaVinci, Michael Angelo, Mozart, Monet, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson,  are/were all creators. Each and every one of these people has created something big.

Greatness is the result of creation, and the only way to be great at what you do is to create. If you’re not creating, you’re not on the path to greatness.

Don’t confuse greatness with fame. Fame isn’t reserved for those who create and creating isn’t always a path to fame. But creating almost always leads to some form of greatness.

If you’ve ever wondered if you’re great, ask yourself, “What have I created lately?”  Your answer rests within that question. Have you created a new process for your job? Have created a new product? Have you created a new tool? Have you created new content? What have you created and how often do you create?

If you want to be great, you need to turn up your creation machine and start producing because greatness is only achieved through creation.

Creation is at the heart of everything. Therefore, those who create are giving back. They are adding value. The creators are improving, growing, fixing, shaping, curing, building, eradicating, helping, and saving the world and if you’re gonna be here shouldn’t that be the goal.

If success and greatness are what you want to achieve then start creating. If it’s not, my simple retort is, WHY?

Be a creator!

People Buy From People They Like Is A Myth

If another person marches out the tired old phrase “people buy from people they like.” I’m going to throw up in my mouth.  This phrase is the dumbest and most detrimental phrase to selling. It’s a shallow, stupid, simplistic thesis. A thesis one too many people use as the basis for their own selling philosophy.

Ya, ya, ya, people buy from people they like, no shit.  But what this phrase doesn’t say is people buy from people they don’t like and they DON’T buy from people they like.  The world is not zero sum. Just because someone likes you doesn’t mean they are gonna buy from you AND just because someone doesn’t like you, doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you.

When it comes to sales, buyers are not in the friend business. They have enough friends. Buyers are in the improvement, growth, and opportunity business. Buyers need solutions that increase their ability to exceed their goals and crush it. Therefore, what buyers care more about than liking you is how much value can you and your product or service bring?

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Buyers want value and they don’t need to like you to see the value. Without value, there is no scenario where a buyer buys from you simply because they like you.

Spending time getting your prospect to like you is wasting valuable time you could spend demonstrating the value you and your organization can bring.

The objective of selling is to deliver value. That’s it. The more value you can bring, the more you will sell.

If people like you, great. It makes it easier. It gets you access. If you can’t deliver value, then it doesn’t matter if they think you’re the coolest person on the planet. They’ll have a beer with you. They will take your call. But, they ain’t buying shit.

If your buyer doesn’t like you, it’s OK. If you’re product or service delivers more value than the competition, if it can solve a pressing pain in the ass problem, then buyers will buy from you — period.  The majority of the things I’ve purchased over they years, I’ve purchased from people I don’t like.

Now,  before you get all worked up defending this long-held belief you’ve had, let me say, you can’t be an asshole.  You can’t be a dick. There is a difference between not being liked and being an asshole.  No one wants to be around an asshole and if you’re an asshole stop it. If you’re an asshole, buyers will look for reasons not to do business with you, even if your product has value. But being a dick is different than just not being liked.

The premise that says, people buy from people they like is a myth. People buy from people who deliver the most value and if they happen to like you on top of that, it is gravy.

Stop worrying about whether or not your buyer likes you and focus your attention on value. Ask yourself how much value are you bringing to this person and make sure it’s a lot.

Value trumps likability EVERY time — be valuable, not liked.

#heykeenan Is In The House – My Take, On Your Questions


It’s here. #heykeenan

It’s my new show where I take your questions via the hashtag #heykeenan and answer them on video.

In Take 1 of our inaugural show we tackle the challenge of dealing with a prospect that won’t work with you, but they are stringing you along.

I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile.  I’m sure many of you remember when I had office hours. I would leave one hour a week open to anyone to who wanted to talk to me and ask questions. I loved office hours. Three twenty minute slots open to anyone with a sales, business, marketing, or leadership question.

I stopped doing them when the platform I was using O-hours shut down. But now I’m back answer questions, just on a larger scale, so more people can learn and grow.

Will I start up office hours again? I don’t know. But until then I’ll be giving you my take on your questions on #heykeenan.

Enjoy peeps!

Death By A One Mile Run And My Crazy Inspiration

My friend and sales guru Dan Waldschmidt inspired me. He ran a 100-mile ultimate marathon recently, so I woke up this morning and decided to go for a run.

Seemed liked a good idea at the time.

Here’s the problem. I haven’t run in over 10 years, at least.

No, I’m not joking.

I haven’t run more than 40 yards in over 10 years.

Realizing how long it’s been, I set a very low goal — 1 mile.

Yup, that’s it. I was gonna run one mile.

So, up out of bed I get. I drop a pin on Google maps a half mile out from my house. I put on my sneakers and off I go.

First 200 yards, I’m feeling great. Next 200 yards, I’m starting to feel it. Another quarter mile and I’m ready to turn around. I was dying at the half mile mark.

It took every ounce of my mental strength to push through. I was dying.

One-mile and you would have thought I ran a marathon.

My inspiration got waaaay ahead of my capabilities.

Too often, we’re inspired by others. I was inspired by Dan. The problem is, that’s them, not us. It’s good to be inspired, but we need to know what our capabilities are. We need to know what we’re capable of and start there.

I have no desire to run 100 miles. But I do need to get back in shape. I thought I was capable of running a mile. I wasn’t.

Tomorrow I’m going to run just shy of a mile. I’m going to find out what I’m capable of, then look to expand my capabilities.

It’s not what you can’t do that matters, it’s what you can do. Once you know what you can do, set realist goals to get better and go from there.

Don’t let your inspirations get ahead of your capabilities. It gets ugly, I promise you.