Top Sales Influencer Jim Keenan's Blog - Part 2


Chris Brogan on Personal Branding for Sales People

The Word Google Hangout this week, was one of the best yet. Our guest was Chris Brogan. Chris was an early adopter of social media, and blogging (actually it was called journaling back then). He’s also the New York Times Best-Selling Author of Trust Agents. Chris has been a pioneer in the world of social and understands the power of developing a unique and valuable personal brand.

Chris drops some serious #truthbombs on personal branding, the changes in today’s world and what it takes to be successful.  His stories are priceless.

Chris is one of my favorite new friends. Anthony Iannarino introduced us and I’ve enjoyed getting to know Chris. He’s amazingly giving and thoughtful and tells great stories.

I had a blast on this Hangout! You don’t want to miss this.

(For some reason, Chris’s video did not display and we didn’t notice until after the show, as we could see him. We don’t know what happened, but the audio is just fine)

Check out all The Word episodes. 


The Difference Between What You Do And How You Do It

Everyone is a salesperson, or a teacher, or a doctor or a truck driver, or mechanic, or a waiter, or a recruiter, or a Vice President, or a developer or a something. Everyone is something. That’s obvious.  When we first meet people, one of the first questions we’re often asked is; “What do you do for a living?”

We always seem answer it right too.

What we don’t often get right is what makes us different at what we do.  Too many of us don’t know how we bring our job to life. We don’t know how we do the job differently.

Yes, you’re a sales person. But what is it about YOU that makes your selling different than everyone else? Yes, you’re a mechanic, but what is it about how you fix cars that is different than every other mechanic. Yes, you’re Vice President of Customer Service, but what is it about YOU that makes you better than all the other V.P.’s of Customer Service?

A job is a static description of tasks, decisions, and action in a particular field or area of knowledge. (Man, that sounded boring. LOL). What brings a job to life however, is how the person doing the job attacks it. A job is a result of how the person doing the job approaches it and that my friends is where the power is.

At A Sales Guy Recruiting (the recruiting division of A Sales Guy), we interview 100’s of applicants and one of the most common questions we ask and our clients ask is, “What makes you a badass sales person?”  Inevitably, few people answer it well. We get the same bullshit, answers. I work hard. I’m detailed oriented. I’m passionate. Yadda, yadda, yadda, yawn!

What we’re looking for and so is the client is, what do you bring to the job that no one else does. How do you do the job in a way that makes it distinctly you? What is it about you that makes your selling different, better, more valuable?

The only way to answer this question is to have tremendous self-awareness. You have to know a lot about yourself and what you’re good at doing. You also have to know how you deliberately apply what you’re good at to your job and why.  It’s the deliberate nature of performing your job and leveraging your strengths as an individual that matters.

How would you answer the question, “What makes you a badass (fill in job here)?

Do you know what distinctly separates you from everyone else who does what you do? What strengths do you bring to the table that you leverage differently than everyone else?  You have to know.

The litmus test is being able to answer the question, “What makes you great at what you do?” And you’re answer could not be able to work for any other person.

If it does, try again.

This Is The Only Thing Sales Leaders Need To Coach

When I teach skiing, one of the most difficult expectations I have to set with my clients is, Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is only so much they can learn in a day or a week. In spite of my efforts to set their expectations, they almost always want  massive gains. They want to ski moguls like a pro. They want to control their speed on blacks. They want to ski powder. The want to ski like “that girl.” The one the just flew past them down the hill. That want to get really good, really fast.

Because of these experiences, I adopted a very simple coaching philosophy. I only teach one thing at a time.

Skiing is one of the most difficult things anyone can do. It takes years and years to be good and almost a lifetime to be amazing.  I have over 4,000 on snow hours and I’m still not as good as I’d like to be. Skiing is hard.

Respecting the complexity, when I teach, I always apply the same approach. I only teach the one or MAYBE two things that will create the greatest and fastest improvement in their skiing.  That’s it. I don’t worry about all the other shit you’re doing wrong. If I did, you’d never get better.

My goal is to get them as good as I possibly can, as FAST as I can.

Skiing is supposed to be fun, even when you’re learning. If I’m throwing all kinds of shit at you, like twist your foot, tip your ankle, put your shin into the tongue of your boot, bend your knees, don’t rotate at the shoulders, tap your poles, don’t bend at the waste, etc. You’re going to be overwhelmed. You’re not going to learn anything and worse, you’re not going to have fun.

Everyone who skis, beginner, intermediate or expert has a something that if they focus on can deliver tremendous progress. That’s what I seek out and focus on — nothing else.

Sale coaching is no different. Every sales person has  a myriad of deficiencies. There is always all kinds of stuff they can work on.  Your job as a manager is to zero in on the one thing that will help them progress the fastest and provide the greatest return. Like skiing, if you try coaching a salesperson on a shit load of stuff, you’re gonna burn em out and they aren’t going to get better.

Here’s what you should do as a sales leader. Watch those you’re coaching and make a list of all the things you see they could improve.  Pay close attention, be thorough. Focus on all aspects of the job, the selling, the team play, the personal skills, the leadership, all of it. Make a list of all the things you see they do well and where they need improvement.

Then, find the one thing that if they improved would provide them the greatest return. The one thing that would make them substantially better and then coach the shit out of it. Don’t focus on anything else. Just focus on that one thing. Do what every it takes to help them improve in that area. Provide as much training, information, role playing, insight, support and guidance you can and don’t stop until they’ve nailed it.

When you focus on only one thing, progress is accelerated. The person learning can focus on perfecting the skill and not become overwhelmed with ten other things.

The most important thing a sales leader can do isn’t coach, it’s to know what to coach. Pick one, make them the best at it, then repeat.


Why Organizations Aren’t Giving Their Sales Teams Enough Time

Predictable Revenue author Aaron Ross says companies have unrealistic expectations that are “evil” when it comes to achieving goals.  He calls it the entrepreneurs-journey. He says companies need to have more patience and give sales more time.

Aaron also talks about he new book, which doesn’t have a title yet. He shares a couple of his title ideas and asks us what we think?

Episode 8 was a killer episode. It offered some of the best 411 for entrepreneurs and sales leaders yet.

You can download the eBook he references here:

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Aaron also has a great Predictable Revenue sales tool bundle you an find here.

The next episode, episode 8 is Chris Brogan. They just keep getting better.

You can see all past episodes on our The Word page here.

Register for Episode 8 now! 


Are You Asking Enough Of The Right Questions

Make a list of all the questions you ask a prospect. Try to be as exhaustive as you can, but make it at least 10. Now, take a look at your questions and remove all the questions that aren’t “business” questions. Questions like, who are the decision makers? When are you looking to have the solution in place, etc?  Once you’ve removed the non-business questions, scratch off all the non-business process questions. Remove all questions like, what solution are you using today?  Are you using xyz product? What problems are you struggling with? What are the goals of your organizations? Take them all out.

How many questions do you have left?  Do you have any left?

If so, remove any remaining question that’s not a process question.  Process questions are, How do you manage your recruiting process? Can you share with us how you manage your payroll process? Would you mind walking us through your return process? How do you manage social media listening across all fifteen divisions?  Process questions are designed to uncover how an organization runs their business, how they execute.

Now that you’ve removed all of the questions that aren’t process questions, how many questions are left? How many of your original list of questions are process oriented.  If the answer isn’t more than half, you’re leaving money on the table.

Here’s the deal when it comes to process questions. In B2B sales the opportunity for the sale rests in how an organization is doing something.

If you’re selling marketing automation tools, then the fastest way to the sale is understanding HOW they are managing their current inbound marketing today. How are they developing landing pages? How are they managing drip campaigns? How are they building nurture programs? How are they tracking visitors and downloads? How are they managing email? How are they . . .

Every one of these questions provides you more and more insight into how an organization is running their business. It’s also the best opportunity to position your product or service. By understanding how your prospect is doing something, you now have the insight required to improve what they are currently doing for the better.

If they are developing landing pages themselves, you can now show them how you can automate that process and save tens of thousands of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by automating their creation with your product. If you learn they are unable to deliver reliable, consistent nurture campaigns, then guess what you’re going to talk about — exactly!

Process questions allow salespeople to get to the heart of the matter. It allows them to assess not only what their clients are doing but how they are doing it. How is the execution and opportunity is ALWAYS present when execution is not optimized.

Companies are rarely optimized and it’s the salesperson’s job to find the inefficiencies and highlight them to the client.

Find out what processes your product or service affects at your target customers. Then, build a list of process questions designed to help you get better visibility into HOW your prospects are doing what you and your product or service can do better.

Let’s start your list over. Now, how many questions do you have?  How many are process questions? Good, I think I heard you say at least half.

That’s better!

Do You Have This Key Skill For Selling?

The best sales people have an unbelievable ability to climb into the skin of others. They have an uncanny ability to feel what others are feeling. The can sense and feel what someone is experiencing when they’re happy, sad, angry, scared, frustrated, etc. The best salespeople know when others are feeling apprehensive and how it’s affecting them. They can feel a prospects exuberance over a new product launch as much as they can feel the fear over a failed effort. Empathetic sales people can climb into the emotional suits of their customers. Great salespeople have an amazing amount of empathy.

Does empathy make someone a good salesperson, or does selling makes someone empathetic?  I’m going with empathy makes someone a good salesperson.  Empathy isn’t a trait used only for selling. It’s a life skill. Therefore, if you’re not empathetic in other aspects of your life, learning to sell isn’t going to move you up the empathy scale. However, if you’re empathetic in other parts of your life, then it will serve you well in selling.

Selling is about change. Change makes us nervous, anxious, and unsettled.  Change is emotional. When we are emotional, we can be unpredictable, stubborn, combative, irrational, aggressive, and more. These emotional responses to change rear their ugly head in sales. Therefore, the salespeople who can empathize with their clients, those who can truly feel and embrace the challenge, severity, difficulty, risk, complexity and impact of the change to their buyers are far better able to respond to it, than those who aren’t.

Selling is helping. The more we can relate, understand, and empathize with the world of our buyers the better support we can provide during the sales process.

Umempathetic salespeople ask for the sale before it’s time. Unempathetic salespeople try to push additional products when there is clearly NO need. Unempathetic sales people rush the sale. Unempathetic salespeople offer the wrong solutions. Unempathetic salespeople sell on price. Unempathetic sales people can’t forecast. Unempathetic salespeople can’t sell as well as empathetic salespeople.

Can you feel what I’m sayin’?


How Marketing Is Screwing Up Social Marketing

Hey, marketers, I have a suggestion. Reach out to some of the best social sellers in the world like, Koka Sexton, Brian Fanzo, Jack Kosakowski, Jill Rowley, Eric Mitchell, Carlos Gil, etc. and take notes. You need to learn how to social market because you’re making a mess out of it.

Social marketing is just like social selling. It’s about giving, not taking. It’s about sharing, and engaging, not about asking. Social marketing operates from the same principles that social selling does, yet for some reason too many marketers just don’t get it.

I got this email this morning;

Hi Keenan,

I am part of a great new software start-up company called, “We Don’t Know Social Marketing” Technologies. We are creating a mobile application that will breathe dramatic improvement into the lives of sales professionals. Basically, transforming great salespeople into legendary salespeople.

I have been reading and enjoying your blog, and wanted to talk to you about partnering up and having the opportunity to be a guest writer on your site.   I found your New Hiring post from the beginning of May particularly interesting, as we posted about LinkedIn and social profiles back in November.  Surprising that some people still don’t have public profiles in the sales world. You can read our post here, and the comments are a good read as well: “link to their post.” 

On our sales blog, we write about everything from “Bad Sales Habits to Avoid” to “Repairing your Customer Relationship” to polling and discussing if texting prospects is appropriate. We’d love to have the opportunity to be a guest blogger, as I think our posts would be of interest to your readers, and our company has the same edgy that you do.  Please let me know if this is a possibility we can discuss further.

Here is a link to the blog: “link to their blog.” 

I must get at two or three of these emails a week.  It drives me insane because 90% of the time, I’ve never heard of these people or met them before.

I get it. In today’s world links, retweets, blogger networks, thought leaders and more are critical to your success. You need links back to your site for SEO. You need popular bloggers, like traditional media of the past, to talk about you. You need thought leaders to know who you are and share your stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter. I get it, trust me. I know how important these things are to your job.  But, the way you’re going about it, is embarrassing and irritating.

Emails like the one above are annoying. They are invasive and selfish. Here’s what the email is really saying;
Check us out,! We’re a cool company and we’re gonna take over the world.
I know you’re a thought leader in the space were trying to compete in and therefore we need access to your audience. The audience you’ve meticuloulsy built up over the years, yeah we want access to that one.  We don’t follow you on Twitter. We’ve never shared your stuff. We’ve never commented on your blog. We’ve never connected with you LinkedIn so you probably don’t know who we are, but to soften that awkward fact, I’m going to reference a recent post you wrote to at least appear to be part of your community.
Now that I’ve gratitously said I like your work that I’m a “long-time” follower, even though I know you don’t know who we are. I’m now going to ask you to give me access to your community and brand so we can forward our own selfish agenda of growing our business.  But, knowing how selfish that sounds, we’re going to tell you how good our content is and how our request to access your community is really for your benefit, not ours, because our content is SO good your readers will just eat it up.
Now that I’ve wasted your time, trying to shamelessly get access to your communtiy and network, I’m going to prove to you how good our content really is and why were so good that saying yes is to a no brainer, by pointing you to a bunch of stuff on our website.
Thanks Keenan for letting us selfishly use you for our own gain.  You’re such a great guy!
I know it feels kinda creepy uh?  Well, that is exactly what is happening when marketers make these types of requests. It’s insulting to the recipient.
Social marketing is no different than social selling. You have to build relationships. You have to engage. You have to give. You have to share. You have to help. You have to earn the right to ask for access to someone’s community.
Social media makes it very, very, very easy to earn the right to ask, you just have to put in the work.
If you need someone to learn from, follow @PipelinerCRM on Twitter.  They are masters of how to social market. Recently they asked me to do a webinar with them. When I got the direct tweet, they required NO introduction. They had been retweeting my stuff, sharing, and engaging for months. I knew who they were, and they had built up tremendous social capital.  It was easy to say yes.
Do you want more links? Do you want access to thought leaders in your space? Do you want be a guest blogger? Then EARN IT . . . Please!!!!

What Are You Really Saying?

One of my favorite quotes is;

Your actions are speaking so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying!

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been saying this a lot lately.

It’s easy for us to say something. It’s easy to commit to an idea, an action, a movement.

What’s hard, is doing it. It’s hard putting in the work, the time, effort, taking action. Yet, that’s what everyone is watching.

What are you doing?

Being authentic with our voice means saying it with our actions. When our actions AND our voice are aligned, we’re being authentic and great things happen.

Our actions tell the true story. Our actions either quell our voice or expand it. When our voice and actions don’t align our ability to lead, influence, inspire, and support are jeopardized. We become inauthentic. When our voice and actions align our voice is magnified. We’re authentic. The vision is inspiring, our support is trusted, our influence amplified.

It’s not enough to say it, we have to do it, and that’s when it gets hard. It’s easy to speak, but hard to do.

What are you really saying? Don’t listen to yourself, watch yourself!

That’s what everyone else is doing.

How to Deal With Difficult Customers and Prospects

This week’s show The Word was one of the best. It tackled a subject I think many sales people struggle with and that’s the difficult customer or climate. It can seem cliche, but it’s not. Customers and prospects need to work with sales people in order for a good sale to take place and when they won’t everything goes south.

This episode of The Word tackles this challenge with Anthony Iannarino and Tim Ohai.  Anthony and Tim are brilliant and hit this subject exactly how I had hoped, directly and with fire.

They hit on it all. When to tell a customer to beat it. Why difficult customers exist. (This part may surprise you. Anthony’s answer was the shit.) How sales managers and sales organizations put the sales people in positions to have to deal with difficult customers and prospects and more.

This episode of The Word was awesome and we had a blast. These guys rock.

If you haven’t seen the other episodes of the word, you can see them here; The Word: A Jolt of Sales 411 w/Keenan


Why High Performance Sales Teams Are a Myth

This past week I had the absolute pleasure of hangin’ with two true sales badasses, Mike Wienberg author of New Sales Simplified and Kelly Riggs author of Quit Whining and Start Selling. These guys know selling and how to build world class sales organizations. So it was a blast spending 45 minutes freestylin’ on why sales teams aren’t performing and what it takes to get them there.

Anyone in sales knows how hard it is to build and maintain a highly functioning team so, breaking it down with them and sharing notes made for a great 45 minutes.

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As you would expect, many of the common issues plaguing sales teams came up, but so did some that I think will surprise you including, fear, bureaucracy and, believe it or not, the pressure to grow.  This was a great conversation. Mike and Kelly offered some straight-up truth bombs and some killer insight.

As I said in during the podcast, I high performing sales teams are a myth. I don’t believe a high performing sales team is a destination or something that can be achieved, but rather a constant journey or commitment. Too many factors change too frequently to ever reach the nirvana of a truly high performing team. Sales people quit, products change, competitors drop their pants on price, the industry shifts, etc., for there to be a destination called a high-performance sales team.  However, constantly pursuing a high-performance team gets you pretty damn close a lot more often and this session of Biz Lockeroom Radio does a great job breaking down what companies and sales leaders need to do to successfully kill it in the pursuit of a high-performing sales team.

Enjoy and if you’re not already be sure to follow Mike and Kelly on Twitter, they’ve always got good stuff to share.