Top Sales Influencer Jim Keenan's Blog - Part 2


Tell Your Customer NO!

Can you tell your customer or prospect no?

You better.

When a prospect says; “Just send over a proposal.” But won’t give you any information about their company, what they are looking for, or what they want to accomplish. Say “No!”

When a customer asks you to reduce the price, but won’t have a discussion about why they want a lower price, the value they’ve received, or even offer what they’d like to pay. Say “No!”

If a prospect wants a demo, but won’t spend time to do a discovery call. Say “No!”

Here’s the deal. Customers and prospects can be demanding, They will ask for a lot, but it doesn’t mean you have to say yes every time.

Part of sales is telling your customer and prospects no. You’re not the customer’s bitch. You need to learn to say no.

The key is to position yourself as a peer and build a selling approach that increases your clients and customers ability to be successful. It’s not to be their gopher, their yes person or a pushover.

Some customers and clients see themselves in the driver’s seat and feel it’s their job to beat up salespeople. It makes them feel as if they are getting a good deal or taking control. Unfortunately, these people are misinformed and you don’t have to be the victim of their ignorance.

Good selling is helping. When people WON’T let you help them. Tell them “No!”, and move on.

Learn to say No! It’s one of the best tools salespeople have; if they learn how to use it.

Do You Have The Guts To Wear Red Suede Pumas?



These are my red, suede Pumas. They are my speaking shoes. I wear them on stage when I speak. These are my red, suede Pumas. In them are white fat laces. I lace them in a bar pattern. These are my red, suede Pumas. I wear them when I speak. I like my red, suede Pumas. My red suede Pumas accompany my jeans from Buckle and my red checkered shirt. This is what I wear when I speak.

In this blog is my content. I started writing it before I started wearing my red suede Pumas. I acquired the knowledge, insight, and expertise in this blog over years and years of practice, reading, implementing, experiencing and creation. In spite of how much I like my red, suede Pumas, they had nothing to do with the acquisition of my knowledge, nor did my jeans from Buckle or my red checkered shirts. My knowledge and expertise came from hard work and commitment.

Recently, I was asked to speak at a company sales kick-off. We hit it off. They were excited about me speaking; I was excited about speaking for them.  I loved the passion and enthusiasm of the team I was working with.  Towards the end of the negotiation, they asked a final question. They explained that they are a very conservative and formal organization and asked if I’d be willing to wear a suit or something more “business” attire like. They asked me NOT to wear my red, suede Pumas.

For a fleeting moment, my mind processed the idea of meeting their request, but before all the synapses finished firing my mouth blurted out NO!  And I meant it.

As it was coming out of my mouth, I realized that it could submarine the entire deal, and I’d lose the speaking engagement. But, I was OK with that. If they didn’t want to move forward, that was on them, and I couldn’t allow it to affect me. I’ve been in this situation before, and I say no every time. It gets’s easier and easier with each no. And this time was no different.

Here’s the deal. When you hire a speaker, you’re getting the speaker’s content, knowledge, insight, and expertise. You’re also getting the speaker –the person.  Asking a speaker to be someone different to fit your corporate culture is undermining the point of hiring a speaker.

I wear red, suede Pumas when I speak. They are my speaking shoes. I wear them on stage when I speak. In them are white fat laces. I lace them in a bar pattern. I wear my red, suede Pumas when I speak, and I like them. My red suede Pumas accompany my jeans from Buckle and my red checkered shirt. This is what I wear when I speak. It’s what I wear when I’m on stage — they have nothing to do with the value of my content.

If you want someone to wear a suit. Hire someone who wears a suit and not red, suede Pumas.

If you’re a speaker and have a brand you’ve built and managed, have the balls to stick to it. ‘Cause, if you’re not willing to fight in order to preserve your brand, why have a brand in the first place.

In the end, we came to terms, and I will be wearing my red, suede Pumas when I speak. I’m excited, and so are they. With that said, they made it clear they have other, larger, corporate events and if I wanted to participate in further events, I’d have to consider wearing a suit.

I said; “No!”

(But I do hope they change their mind. I like them!)

Women Need To Stop Trying To Balance Work And Home Life

For years, the idea of work-life balance has been the buzzword of the workforce, particularly for women.  It’s based on the idea that women need to figure out how to take care of their professional life and their home life.  They had to get the big presentation done, meet with clients, deliver the quarterly report AND chaperone the kids field trip, make dinner, clean the house, go on date night with their husband and more.  It seemed daunting and, therefore “work-life balance” became the motto women used to get control of their careening lives.

Teresa Taylor author of The Balance Myth has a different outlook. She argues work-life balance is a myth and she does a wonderful job of describing why in this video.

If you’re a woman battling the challenges of family and career, you’ll find this video emancipating.  Teresa tells a wonderful, yet emotional story about how she discovered that work-life balance was a myth and what she decided to do about it.

Teresa is going to be tackling the challenges and benefits of being a women in sales on The Word: A Jolt of Sales 411 w/Keenan this week. If you found her Ted Talk to be good, you’re not going to want to miss this live Google Hangout and Twitter chat.

Save your spot for The Word here.


Why You Should Hire An Idiot When Ever You Can

It was my high school graduation. I was sitting in the last row, seat 276 or something like that.  There were roughly 300 white wooden folding chairs on the football field lawn. It was a hot May day and the sun was extra hot in our graduation gowns. We were seated in the chairs according to our GPA ranking, first to last.  My GPA was one of the lowest in my H.S. graduation class.  I remember several empty chairs to my left. They were the chairs of the kids with higher GPA’s who hadn’t earned enough credits to graduate. Yes, there were kids who had higher GPAs than me who didn’t have enough credits to graduate — classic!

I graduated H.S. with a 1.5 GPA.  Fucking brilliant uh? From the outside I was an idiot.

I don’t recall caring much about my GPA.  I was more devastated that my Dad didn’t show up to graduation, despite having told me just hours before that he would be there.  After the ceremony I asked him why he didn’t come and he said, “I wasn’t going to some fake graduation ceremony where the only reason you graduated was because the teachers just wanted to get you out of their hair.” I’m sure you pseudo psych folks could have  field day with that. But, I digress.

Other than my Dad not coming, I didn’t give a shit about my GPA or my H.S. experience.  I had this unsubstantiated belief that I was a smart kid and when I was ready, I would be just fine and the school, my teachers, my dad, and everyone else who thought I was a fuck up, could go fuck themselves.  When I was ready, I would be just fine.

I didn’t apply myself in in H.S. It was that simple.  I was more interested in partying with my friends and chasing girls.  In spite of my immature behavior, for the most part, I had the sense not do drugs, and kept my stupidity to the least damaging choices possible. I excelled in sports and hung out with some pretty grounded and cool kids.

What I did know in H.S. was that I was smart.  I knew that when I committed to something I would be good at it. I wasn’t going to let the outside world get me down, ’cause I wasn’t playing there game at their speed. I just wasn’t ready.

The challenge for me was finding what I was good at (besides sports) and what it is I wanted to do.

It took me a little while to find what I was good at, but it did. I learned that I was good at selling and influencing people.

Once I found what I wanted to do, success never became an issue again. I became completely committed to making my goals, to being the top sales person in every job and crushing quota.  When it came to sales and selling, I wanted to be in the valedictorian seat, and often times I was.

What this life experience taught me is that there are a lot of smart people out there who are underperforming because they aren’t doing what they love. They haven’t found their “thing.”  Just because someone isn’t killing it in their current role, doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. It could mean they’re just bored. To crush it, it takes interest, love and heart too. I don’t care how smart you are, if you don’t like what you’re doing, if it’s not a passion, you’re not going to be good at it. Smarts and intelligence can only take you so far. Passion and love of what you’re doing are the true fuel to success.

When I’m hiring I look for smart people who love sales.  I want people who get a rush out of selling. I look for people who see the inherent greatness of helping people get more out of their organizations. I want people who are obsessed with solving problems. I’m drawn to the super smart people who are students of sales, and are driven by a passion for getting better. I do the same thing for our recruiting division.  I frickin’ love super smart people who are engaged in their passion.

Two hundred and seventy five people in my high school graduated with a higher GPA than I did.  Two hundred and seventy five people ostensibly were supposed to fair better in life than I was, but it didn’t turn out that way.

GPA, the college one attended, test scores etc. don’t tell the entire story.  Smarts, in a real world setting, are not quantitative. As much as we want them to be,  they’re not. They are qualitative and learning to find those smart people who don’t have the quantitative stats, but will crush it for you, is an art few possess.

I owe my career to a few really fuckin’ smart and progressive leaders (Particularly Mike Sexe) who saw in me what I saw in myself.  They hired me when others wouldn’t. They knew what I knew, and that was I could get it done and that I was super passionate about sales.

Here’s the takeaway from this post —

If you’re really frickin’ smart and aren’t crushing it in life, you haven’t found what you’re meant to do. Stop wasting your time and go find it. When you combine smarts with passion, the sky’s the limit.

If it’s your job to look for talent, find really, really, frickin’ smart people who are fanatical about what it is they are doing or want do and hire them right away. Hire the idiot. They are game changers.



How Not Being Professional Can Increase Sales

We’ve all been brain-washed. We’ve been duped. We’ve been indoctrinated by this hollow concept we call professionalism, and it’s sucking the life out of us. This concept called professionalism has killed one of the most important requirements for sales — passion!

Passion is critical to selling. It takes the sale to an entirely new level. I’m not talking just about traditional B2B selling either. I’m talking about all kinds of sales, the interview, the sales cold call, fund-raising, asking someone out, promoting an idea, college application, etc. You name it, if you’re trying to influence someone to do something, passion is by FAR the most critical soft skill. When we’re passionate, we are far more believable. Our commitment to the cause becomes apparent. Passion captures our audience. It lures them in. Passion is emotion and emotions are memorable. Emotion connects people to one another. Connection creates trust and camaraderie, all key elements of establishing great relationships.

Unfortunately,  professionalism squashes passion in many cases. With this expectation of “professionalism,” we’ve come to accept and in many cases demand, watered down versions of our messages, our stories and our presentations. In an attempt to be “professional” and not isolate anyone, we sacrifice a little bit and some cases a LOT of our passion and with that our unique selves.

Fuck “professionalism!”

What does professionalism mean anyway? In today’s world it’s come to mean watered down, conforming, politically correct, unprovoking, white-washed, unoffending,  boring, stiff don’t offend anyone, communication designed to ensure that you are not seen as being different or offensive.  Let’s keep it real, professionalism is playing not to lose. There is no benefit or upside to being professional. It’s a play not to lose strategy.

I see people being “professional” lose every day. At A Sales Guy Recruiting, we use a video hiring tool called Hirevue to evaluate candidates. It can be painful to watch. We see people we’ve talked to on the phone with crazy personality and enthusiasm just come across as duds the minute they have to go “public.” Their answers are boring, canned and carefully crafted to appear professional and clean, and they suck. There is no passion, enthusiasm or excitement in their answers. They just crash and burn. All in an attempt to look and act professionally.

I see it all the time on sales calls too. The sales person walks through the sales call like a stiff piece of cardboard, lacking any passion, enthusiasm or connection to their product and the audience. They’re doing a demo or asking discovery questions, and they just can’t connect with their audience. Why? Because they are trying too hard to be professional. They are using big words; they are overly formal with the prospect or client. They are giving way too much reverence to the situation and the audience, and the entire presentation is a train wreck. In spite of what would otherwise have been a good fit, the sale was painful.

Professionalism is a passion killer. I’m going on record as saying that right now.  We need to stop demanding professionalism and demand more passion and heart. We need to stop questioning clothes, tone, grammar, and posture and start focusing on heart, passion, enthusiasm, and engagement. We need stop worrying about how professional someone is and worry about how much passion they have.

For those of you who are getting your panties in a wad about the idea of not being professional, cool your jets. I’m not talking about being “unprofessional.”  It’s not OK to be unprofessional. Unprofessional is being disrespectful. It’s calling people names. It’s being disrespectful towards people’s beliefs, race, or gender. It’s inappropriate jokes. Being unprofessional is being disrespectful, and that’s not OK. But, it’s not disrespectful when someone doesn’t wear a tie, or a dress to an interview. It’s not disrespectful to get excited and passionate about your product. It’s not disrespectful to use slang in an interview. Being disrespectful takes a lot and so I think it’s time we widen the gap between being “professional” and being “unprofessional.” Just because someone isn’t “professional” doesn’t mean they are unprofessional.

Sales needs more heart, more passion, more excitement, more enthusiasm and less formality. Sales needs fewer rules about formally presenting and more rules about capturing imagination through stories. Sales needs fewer professionalism critics and more engagement critics.  Sales needs more people passionately engaging their clients and prospects and fewer stiff robots towing the professional line. Sales needs more people who aren’t afraid to say fuck professionalism; I’ve got something you need to hear, and I’m damn excited about it. That’s what we need more of. It’s time we give people permission to push the limits, to kick “professionalism” in the ass and get better at telling good stories that excite and enchant. Let’s give them permission to engage informally and connect on a human level. Let’s give salespeople permission to be themselves and shed the mask of “professionalism.” Professionalism has shackled us for too long, and we’re all losing because of it.

You wanna increase sales? Don’t let “professionalism” squash your passion. It’s not worth it.

The Word Episode 3 #Social Selling with @kokasesxton and @isocialfanz

The Word: A Jolt of Sales 411 w/Keenan is awesome, the shows are getting better and more engaging.  We’re having a blast.

This Thursday’s Episode 3 was all about social selling. Our rock star guests were Koka Sexton and Brian Fanzo. They are some of the best in social and social selling and they dropped some serious truth bombs.  Things really get going about 2/3rds of the way through. The energy starts to pick up as the passion starts coming out.

We also had Jack Kasakowski, killer social sales rep with ActOne on. Jack makes half the cold calls his team does, yet he’s one of the top reps.  Jack shares his tips on how he’s killin’ it with social.

I loved doing this show. The guests were awesome and the passion was palpable.

If you’re not using social media to sell, this is worth a watch. If you are leveraging social media and you want to get better, check out the show.

Social selling is changing the way we’re selling and Brian, Koka and Jack are leading the way. If there is ever a time to be a follower, now is it.


A New And Surprising Way To Improve Email Response Rates

Getting people to open emails and then respond to them is the biggest challenge in sales today. With so much communication being done via email, increasing response rates is the holy grail.

I wrote a post a while back that contained an infographic outlining the best subject lines for emails.  It was one of my most popular posts in 2014. It’s clear that getting increased response to emails is important to salespeople.

Humans prefer to engage with authentic, personal communication much more than “email blasts”

-Sean Mitchell bombbomb

If email open rates are important to you, you’re going to like what I’m about to share.

Have you heard of BombBomb?

BombBomb is a video email service that allows you to create video emails directly in Gmail. It’s frickin’ awesome. All you have to do is open Gmail, click the BombBomb icon and record your video directly from Gmail. It’s super easy to use.

We love BombBomb. It works. We use it here at A Sales Guy Recruiting.  We see a better open rate and response rates to emails when we use video. Video allows us to be more personal. It creates a more engaged correspondence. It allows recipients to see and feel who we are and the passion we have. We think visual cues are critical to connecting and establishing rapport at A Sales Guy. We use video for everything and BombBomb is another critical video tool for us.

I asked BombBombs head of business development Sean Mitchelle what the open rates are for BombBomb, and his answer surprised me. He said BombBomb clients see anywhere from 50% to 90% open rates.  Max, our biz development guy, tells me our open rate is slightly lower than that at 40% but that the quality of the response rates for him has been phenomenal. Just this weekend, we had a very prominent CEO of a super hyped start-up respond to a BombBomb. This start-up has been all over the news lately. We knew getting through to him was going to be a challenge. We used regular email, Twitter, and BombBomb. BombBomb got it done.

If you’re serious about making things happen and improving your numbers. It’s time to start changing the way you communicate. The written word has been the key medium for 1000’s of years.  Now video is changing things. It’s creating a new space between the written word and the live face to face. There is a lot of noise out there. You need to get through it all and doing what you’ve always done, isn’t going to make a difference.





Why There Is No Room For “IF” In Selling

I received this email the other day and it started like this;

If you work in sales enablement you should —

Well, I don’t and I suspect most of the other recipients didn’t either. The email then went on to talk about the value proposition of the podcast they were promoting. After a decent list of benefits the email ended like this:

If you are in sales enablement, and need to scale, you will benefit from listening to this podcast.

The email was short, targeted and offered a decent  value proposition. It wasn’t a bad email, except, it started and ended with “If” and that was the problem.

Recently I was on a demo and the rep continued to move through the demo by saying;

If your people post to XYZ then this feature will bring a lot of value. If your company does ABC then . . .

It was driving me crazy. More than 50% of the time, we didn’t do things that way, our people wouldn’t require the feature I was being shown or our company had little value in the feature being shown.

As sales people, when we ask  a client or prospect, “if,” what we’re basically saying is, we don’t know what they do, who they are or how they run their business. That’s not good.

There is nothing worse than advertising to prospects and clients that you are unprepared and not schooled in their business or company. As sales people, it’s our job to know who we’re talking to, what their issues are and how they run their business. If you don’t know something, ask.  But whatever you do, don’t go with “if.”

The good news is, although this is a terrible habit, it can be fixed rather quickly by simply paying attention and being aware of how you engage prospects. Pay attention to how you deliver information. Listen for the times when you’re about to say something that you don’t know the answer to. One of the best ways to avoid this mistake is to know exactly what issues or challenges you’re going to address for your customer before the meeting starts.  Take the time to know your buyer before you engage with them. If you don’t know enough, then don’t pitch. Use the meeting as a discovery meeting to get more information about their business. If it’s an email, know who you’re sending the email to before you send it. Don’t waste their time by sending them an email that isn’t germane to them. I promise you, it was irritating getting an email for a sales enablement person when I’m not.

Rather than sending out bulk emails to your entire list, consider creating lists by title. Have your sales leadership list. Have your sales enablement list, sales operation list, have your sale people list, etc. This doesn’t prevent you from doing bulk emails, but when bulk isn’t appropriate, you can send targeted emails that matter and tells your prospcet you know who you’re talking to.

When you use “if” when referring to your client or their environment you’re telling everyone within earshot you don’t have a fuckin’ clue. Yes, it’s that bad.  Clueless sales people are the worst. The entire value of sales people is steeped in knowledge, don’t tip your hat and let everyone know you don’t have any.

There is no room for “if” when selling. It’s that simple.