Leadership is one of the most powerful skillsets a salesperson can master, as it promotes confidence in any conversation. Join Doug C. Brown and world-renowned sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer as they discuss what it really takes to be a great sales leader.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 15 best-selling books on selling. He’s a creative, on-the-edge, writer and speaker whose expertise on sales, customer loyalty, and personal development is world renowned. Known for presentations, seminars, and keynote addresses that are funny, insightful, in your face, real world, off the wall, and on the money.
Visit his website: www.gitomer.com
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I’ve got an illustrious guest. His name is Mr. Jeffrey Gitomer. A lot of people know Jeffrey as one of the foremost sales trainers or training companies in the world. He’s been all over the globe. We had a very interesting conversation on and around identification and leadership. That is going to help you farewell and your pursuit of growing your revenues. A little disclaimer, there is a small amount of profanity there in the interview. If that would be something that would offend you, please don’t read the interview. It’s not bad words. Something that’s important that we talked about is to be yourself. On this show, I don’t regulate how people want to speak or what they necessarily want to speak about as long as it’s helpful to you, people.
That is that. Jeffrey’s books are worldwide famous. The Little Red Book of Sales is probably one of his forerunners of recognition. We talk about positioning and how to sell on value and how do you position that value because not a lot of companies are great at doing that. Without further ado, I could tell you all the companies, go to his website, Gitomer.com. You’ll see all the companies. He’s got a very impressive resume of people that he served. He’s done probably hundreds of thousands to millions of books over time. Well-known guy. Let’s go to the interview.
Jeffrey, it’s nice to have you here on the show.
We put it off enough. This is the day.
For those of you who don’t know what Jeffrey’s talking about, we’ve been trying to connect now for a couple of months and between health issues for both of us. It delayed our interview but we’re here and we have a great topic to talk about. Jeffrey, do you want to introduce the topic?
Yes, I do. I’m asked why CEOs universally, “Please improve my sales. Please grow my sales.” You show me a CEO, a CFO, a chief sales officer, chief revenue officer and they all want the same thing. More sales. How do you do that? It is not more Facebook Ads that I can promise you, but it is, in my opinion, better salespeople with deeper relationships.
Better salespeople, being people who are more rapport–building type salespeople. Would that be the better type of salesperson?
Relationship building salespeople, because if you sell me something and it’s the lowest price and somebody comes in for a nickel less, you lose that business. You have no loyalty other than loyalty to a nickel. This is what I discovered over the COVID.
The thing is that relationship selling has always been important but I don’t think people have placed the importance on it as they are or shouldn’t right now. The old adage, it’s always easier to resell somebody you already have a good relationship with and far less costly to do so, always was the truth before and even now. I’m dealing with a very similar audience. I found a lot of companies that come to me and say the same thing, “I want to increase my sales. I don’t know how. We used to do this all face-to-face. I was a whatever type of company, but now we’re a virtual company. How do we build that relationship virtually?”
The first answer is, look at yourself. Look at me. I’m virtual. I’m in Wild Dunes, South Carolina. There are palm trees in the background. My hands don’t disappear when I go up and down. I have a background if I need one called Anyvoo.com. I presented myself in a way that’s not tacky. If I talk to an audience of 200 people, half of them look like shit.
When you’re talking about relationships, it’s everything that touches the census of the other individual. That’s how I view it.
You make a value judgment and it is yes or no. It’s not even a maybe. “I’m going to do what’s comfortable for me. I’m going to do what feels good for me.” Here’s the secret, go to any company that you have a relationship with. I only want half your fee if you do this successfully. I don’t want any more than anybody else. I don’t want any less than anybody else. Give me your top five sales guys and identify their top ten characteristics of what makes them successful. They may not know what makes them successful. They may think, “I’m a good people person. I get up early in the morning.” That has nothing to do with what makes them sell. Maybe what drives them but it’s not what makes them sell.
It’s what they do in the heat of the battle when there’s an issue, to deliver when nobody else can deliver, to follow through when nobody else is following through, to communicate in advance, to fight for their customer, to earn that friendship. Beyond relationship, friendship, all things being equal. People want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people still want to do business with their friends. That’s the challenge that salespeople don’t get. They think it’s transactional. “This guy only takes the lowest price.” Screw that guy. Why are you selling that guy? Let your competitor go there and make no money over there. Let them go broke selling a cheap bastard.
It’s difficult to sell on value if we’re selling into a commoditized scenario. It’s a price or whatever figure.
What would you call commoditized?
Anything that somebody sees another person and sees the other competition there as completely equal or equalized. They’re going to revert most of the time to either price or convenience because there’s an absence of perceived value or service that they’re looking for.
Keyword, perceived. If I’m selling home siding, there’s a shortage of home siding and I can get you product and the other guy cannot. It doesn’t matter what my price is. I’ll sell it for another $1 a foot because I can get it. It’s a matter of, “Do you trust me to be your vendor, supplier, supply chain? If you do, put your faith in me and I’ll find the product even if I have to buy it from a competitor. I’m your guy. If you got to shop me, I am not your guy. I’m your price guy.”
The statement you made was very interesting for a lot of people who are selling. They don’t think about it this way but you and I always have. “Put your faith in me.”
“I’m your guy. They don’t buy aluminum siding. They buy Doug F. Brown. Doug F. Brown happens to convey it but I’m putting my faith in you because you’re my guy.”
Is it fair to say from your perspective that they have to put their faith in us, we’re going to ask that but we also have to put our faith in them that we’re building a win-win buying relationship?
We’re helping them. We have to help them build their business. If we only dumped products on their lawn, we haven’t helped them at all. My feeling is, if you don’t help your customer make a profit, you’ve got a big problem. That separates and differentiates you from everybody else but that’s a characteristic of a leading salesperson. A leading salesperson will help and fight for their customer. If the sales VP says, “Grow my sales,” that’s the wrong silo. That’s the wrong stack. “Identify my strengths and build on those within the framework of my organization and I’ll grow sales like crazy.” If you’re trying to do the same thing and upping my quota by 11% because you pulled the number out of your ass, it’s not going to happen. “Where’d you get that 11.4% growth?” “We sat around a room and pulled it out of our ass.”
How meaningful is it to the company and the salesperson? How important is it to the end consumer that might purchase that? Companies are pulling out of the air for whatever reason, “I’m going to grow my sales by X.” Where’s the plan around this? How is it affects the customer’s journey all the way around? I talk with so many companies. “I want to double my sales.” The questions that come down are, “Are they set up operationally? Are they set up customer service–wise? All the other facets in order, if they have rapid growth, a doubling of the company. Are they able to deliver on that?”
“Do your salespeople believe in their hearts that each one of them can double their sales? If they don’t, there’s no sense in going on the journey.”
What are you doing in that situation? Let’s say they don’t have the belief in that. Do you train them? Do you replace them? How do you handle it?
The answer is very delicate. The first thing I would do is replace the senior officer. That will light a fire under anybody without having to go through a bunch of shit, like, “Bob is a great guy but all he did was a demand of you. We’re going to coach you to become better.” “It sounds brutal but how can I best double my sales? Probably the answer is to fire you, Bob. That’s probably the best answer I can give you. It’s cheaper. I can put new leadership in. It’ll inspire all of your people to get better. I’m going to identify who your great guys are. I’m going to build a program around them and we’re going to march to success. Am I going to double my sales the first year? No. Am I going to double them the second year? You bet your butt.”
It’s interesting because you and I were talking about hockey and different sports before. Pro sports teams do that a lot. When something’s not going and they want to grow.
Whether the manager is the real cause or not but it starts to drive some shockwave momentum through the organization, through the players, that wakes people up.
The people, I don’t want to mention any cities like Dallas that keep their leadership even though it sucks. They wonder why they struggle from year to year and can’t make any headway. The answer is because the team doesn’t believe in leadership.
If we have a team that won’t believe in the leadership, the team is either A, going to make it up on their own or B, avoid the confrontation that’s going to come out of that lack of belief.
They’ll take their $9 million a year and play mediocre.
This is an important lesson for all CEOs running a company. You want to feed the strong, not the weak. If we don’t feed the strong in sales, nothing kicks off a salesperson more. I know I’ve had this happen when I’ve been the number one guy in the company. They get a couple of leads to come in and who do they pass them to? The weakest guys. It’s like, “I’m four times over quota every single month consistently and you’re not rewarding me at all.” That to me, is a lack of leadership in a sales–driven organization because it’s not about propping the week up. It’s about feeding the strong.
You can tell the weak guy, say, “We’re identifying the characteristics of our strong guys and expect you to emulate them. If you can’t, you’re going to need to be weak someplace else.”
That in itself, a lot of times, is a great motivating factor to get people in or out.
You’re not doing something that’s off the chart. You’re saying, “I’m going to identify the strengths of our best guys and ask me to match them. There’s no rocket science program here that’s going to catapult me to a brand new height. I’m simply going to maximize my internal down. I’m going to do it in a way where anybody can get it but if you don’t want to hustle, please tell me now because it’s going to save you and me a lot of heartaches.”
One of the questions that CEOs often ask when I’m speaking with them is like, “I’m frustrated with my sales team. What do I do with them? Can you come in and train them?” My first question out of the gate is, “Are they open to be trained? Are they trainable?”
I have a standard answer, “Counting them all by dues and shoot the warrants. You’ll have a lot of motivated dues. Your payroll will be touching half.” It goes deeper than that. The first thing I’d look at is leadership. I looked to see if these guys are willing to go to the mat for the leader.
Readers, if you are not remembering who we’re talking with, speaking with Mr. Jeffrey Gitomer, he is a world–renowned author. You can find him at Gitomer.com. Pick up his books for sure. Probably one of his most famous ones that people identify with is the Little Red Book of Sales. Jeffrey, I remember you telling me an interesting story about that particular cover at one time because you write a lot of books, so you used to go to France. That cover came out of inspiration from somewhere. Do you find a different book?
I went to Writers’ Weekend there. I teach people how to finish their books. This was given to me in 1996 by my friend Mitchell Kearney. It’s called Paris Out of Hand. I knew what this book was going to look like the minute I saw this book.
I love this topic about leadership and identification, getting very clear on this. When it comes to leadership, usually a lack of leadership, does it come from usually a skillset that they don’t possess or do you find that mostly 80% is between the years and they have their own personal challenges going on that’s affecting their ability to lead?
They get bogged down in the minutia of bullshit and they lose their vision of what it’s like to be a leader. The leader is the visionary, not the floor mopper. Not that the leaders shouldn’t mop the floors every once in a while, but it’s not your daily job.
It’s to show the people the endpoint of the vision and constantly be navigating the ship toward that particular endpoint.
There’s a secret. If the sales leader cannot go out on a sales call with your best guy and make the sale where your best sales guy cannot, your leader is worthless.
Not to toot my own horn too much but in any team I’ve ever led, I’ve always been the number one producer regardless. What I’ve learned from doing that which I teach my clients to do as well is, “You drive it,” because what they want to do is knock the guy off the top of the hill. If it’s the owner, be out there selling because they’re looking. Complaints don’t exist. They may be there but they don’t exist like they would in the absence of that because as the owner, as the leader of that company, that leader can look at that sales team and go, “I’m doing it.”
The leader has to be in a meeting and looks at your beat as a shit sales guy and go, “What’s the issue?” “I can’t get people on the phone.” “Can you give me the name and number of one guy?” “Can I talk to Bob? It’s a business matter of a personal nature. Bob, Hang on.” Hand the guy on the phone. I need to shut that guy up forever. It’ll be a story that everyone will retell forever but you got to get your balls. If you have no sales balls, no business being in sales leadership.
If the leader allows that type of thought process to infiltrate through the organization, then what ends up happening is it lowers the overall performance of the whole team.
Energy and belief.
Conversely, if you have somebody who is a top performer on the team but they’re so disruptive to that particular team.
Get rid of them.
A lot of people running companies, they don’t do that because they’re afraid that they let this top guy go that they’re not going to be able to replace them. What I have found is moving the top guy to a different venue. Moving she or he out of there improves the performance of the overall organization. Does it come back to weekly leadership and identification?
I’m going to identify the strengths of my best guys and the leader is going to put all that into a game plan and deliver it to the rest of my people. It is not complicated. I don’t need the challenger sale and the new strategic selling. I need to identify the qualities of my best guys and teach the other guys the same qualities and done. Everything else is bullshit.
For owners out there, I’ve always found that struggle is inevitable but success is not guaranteed. It’s what we do with that struggle. If we have those challenges within the organization, what we do whether or not we become successful or not in our endeavors to grow our revenues?
If you quantify the situation, you have a chance at winning. If you don’t, you never will and you’ll wonder why. You’re not going to increase sales by raising the quota.
Quantification is a huge part of this. I’m so grateful you brought that up because a lot of people don’t look at their numbers like they’re supposed to. They’re being honest but not being truthful. Truthful being objective, “Let’s measure what’s going on.” Every time we measure, it shows a story. It reveals a story. A lot of times, measuring by the numbers itself will improve sales in a company because they haven’t been holding accountability. People aren’t respecting what’s not being inspected. Quantification is a key element for growing sales and consistently growing sales. If people want to get a hold of you or get a hold of something of yours, I know you had something like the Insider’s Club.
Go to Gitomer.com. You’ll find all my stuff is there. I do a live show on Facebook or on my Insider’s Club. I’ve been doing it since March of 2020, giving free advice and being there for salespeople around the world. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, I’m on for everybody. Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday, only for the Insider’s Club but if you snoop around my website, you’ll find all kinds of stuff.
There is a lot on that website. I’ve been through it several times. There’s a lot of great stuff on the website as well. We’ve talked several times in the past. You’re the type of guy that likes to debunk things. What’s one area that we haven’t talked about that our profession, professional selling, growing revenue for companies, one myth that you’d like to debunk?
Cold calling works.
99 out of 100 people were either hanging their phone up on you or worse. Why would you take those numbers when if you went out and earned 1 or 2 referrals, you’d have a 50% to 100% closing ratio instead of a 1% begging ratio?
The positioning is different.
You take your best customers and win them to a point where they’re willing to refer you to somebody else. That’s how you grow your business.
If you have dormant or past clients and if you’re like many companies who don’t pay attention to them, you could go back and garner referrals from those people as well. If you knew what you knew now, what would you have wished that you would have known right now that would have made you more successful in selling or the career that people choose in the world of sales or growing their revenues?
I would have started writing and posting earlier because everything I write turns into some kind of money or wealth. It makes my phone ring. Keep in mind, “I love you. Didn’t call you. Don’t call anybody.” Two thousand five hundred speeches in the last several years, no sales calls because I’m a value provider in a marketplace that’s hungry for value. I put myself out there and in front of people that can say yes to me. I deliver value first. That’s not understood in any marketing, anything for formula, it’s advertising in Facebook, it’s none of that. You give me something as a salesperson that I believe I can run with and succeed with and I’ll go back to who you are and tell all my friends to come look at you. Plain and simple.
It was about creating that value perception and the positioning around that, which is what a lot of people don’t seem to do. They do it poorly. Some people do it well. People, I want to urge you to go to Gitomer.com. Check it all out. You will learn a lot. If you could go back in time and become anyone back in time and you could take those skill sets forward and into the world now, who would that person be? What would you do to better out the world even more than you’re doing already?
I’d have to look at my heroes. My heroes are the personal development guys that I hang my hat on, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Charlie Tremendous Jones or earlier people than that, Samuel Smiles or Orison Swett Marden. I would have written more. I would have also bet the farm more often. Steve Jobs bet the farm on the iPad and the iPhone. How’d that work out?
He was willing to risk everything to win, not like, “I’m going to put half of it up and see what happens.” He didn’t ask anybody. He didn’t talk to anybody. He said, “I got this idea. It’s a winner. Everybody else is full of soup. I’m going to show it to the world. If they buy it, cool. He built the largest company in the history of mankind with no market research.”
That in itself is a great feat. Betting the farm is the old analogy of, “Burn the boats and take the beach.” A lot of people get afraid of doing that but what I have found is it’s a lack of commitment or lack of faith within the individual. If they go and explore that and push forward then they’ll start building the confidence level. That itself will increase sales. Jeffrey Gitomer, thank you for being here. I appreciate you being here on the show. People, go to Gitomer.com. Pick up resources there, join the classes, learn something new and take your sales to the next level.
It’s my pleasure, Doug.
That was a pretty cool interview with Mr. Jeffrey Gitomer. Remember to go to Gitomer.com and go to some of his classes. The gentleman is smart. He has practical information. I remember there was a quote in Atlanta Times. It was called years ago. It said, “Salespeople don’t peddle. They solve problems while making others laugh.” That was a quote that they did from Mr. Jeffrey Gitomer. He’s a smart guy. He’s been on the street a long time, selling. He’s been in companies helping people be on the street, whether it’s physically or virtually, to improve their sales. I liked the part about identification. Identifying who in your company is either constraining factors, who is the people that can take you to the next level, and identifying the leadership strengths that are required and removing those impediments within the organization or within your sales team.
A lot of times, especially when the companies are smaller and they’re reliant on their sales team, they have these top–performing salespeople but they’re disrupting the organization like crazy. As a leader owning the company or a leader driving the sales division, those people have to be dealt with accordingly. Otherwise, they start poisoning the abilities of others. Especially if they’re that type of grumpy or gruff person that insults people throughout the day, this interview here, when we focus it on the leadership aspect, on the position, on the identification, are three key components in growing your sales. There’s a lot of other tidbits in there as well. If you liked this episode, please go up and give it a five–star review. Tell your friends and let me know what you’d like me to talk about on future episodes by commenting and/or sending direct messages to myself or my teams that will answer your questions. Go out, sell something, make it a great day and to your success.
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