I hope you enjoy my August Newsletter
Published: Tue, 08/15/23
In the annals of American business history, few stories are as captivating as the rise of McDonald’s, immortalized in the 2016 biographical drama film “The Founder.” The story of Ray Kroc, a struggling milkshake machine salesman who transformed a local drive-in into a global fast-food empire, is a classic tale of ambition, innovation, and, controversially, ruthless business acumen.
However, behind the gripping narrative lies a valuable lesson for small businesses today. The McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice, were entrepreneurs who envisioned a revolutionary fast-food system. Their only significant flaw? They relied heavily on a single salesperson – Ray Kroc – to sell their franchise concept. This dependency proved to be their Achilles’ heel and resulted in them losing control over their brand.
The McDonald brothers had an excellent product and a promising business model. But the near-total reliance on Kroc as their sole franchise salesperson left them vulnerable. When Kroc’s ambition overstepped the boundaries they were comfortable with, they had no alternative but to endure the adverse outcomes, including the eventual loss of their company.
Small businesses must take this lesson to heart in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. A diverse sales team is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Here’s why:
Control the Message: The Power of Diversity Over Singularity
In the evolving business landscape, the brand message is one of the most pivotal components for success. It is the heartbeat of your organization, resonating with the values, goals, and ethos your company embodies. Yet, when this message is funneled through a singular voice, it often becomes vulnerable to unintentional distortions and personal biases. Imagine an intricate musical piece being played only on one instrument – while it may still carry the tune, it misses the richness and depth that a full orchestra brings.
With a sole salesperson at the helm, there’s a heightened risk of this narrative skew. Their personal experiences, perspectives, or unique communication styles can inadvertently overshadow or drift from the brand’s foundational message. This is not to question the competence or intentions of the salesperson but to understand human nature. We all carry our filters and interpret things based on our lenses. In contrast, a diverse sales team acts as a safeguard. When guided by a unified strategy, multiple voices can reinforce the brand’s core message, iron out anomalies, and present a more rounded, authentic narrative to potential clients.
Moreover, by diversifying the conveyors of your brand message, you’re preserving its integrity and broadening its reach. Different salespeople can resonate differently with a varied clientele, ensuring your brand message is consistent and universally relatable. It’s about striking a balance between consistency and versatility, and in the intricate dance of sales, this balance can make all the difference.
Reduced Dependency: Spreading the Net Wide for Steady Growth
The tale of the McDonald brothers provides a cautionary narrative about the perils of leaning heavily on a singular entity for business advancement. While it seems convenient and efficient in the short term to place the onus of sales on one high-performing individual, this structure is fraught with risks. Over-reliance on a single salesperson can be likened to building a house on a singular pillar – while it might hold for a while, a single crack can bring the entire edifice crashing down.
A broad and diversified sales team acts as a buffer against such risks. Each member brings their strengths to the table, ensuring that the entire operation doesn’t come to a standstill if one cog in the machinery malfunctions. Whether it’s due to changing personal interests, unforeseen circumstances, or the natural evolution of a career, key players might exit the stage at some point. In such scenarios, a well-rounded sales team ensures that the business doesn’t just survive but thrives, adjusting and recalibrating with minimal disruptions.
Furthermore, reduced dependency on a single individual promotes collective growth and shared responsibility. It fosters an environment where team members motivate one another, learn from each other’s successes and setbacks, and drive the business forward as a united front. The lesson is clear: while individual brilliance is always welcome, the future of sustainable growth lies in collective strength and diversity.
Expanded Reach: The Power of Diversity in Scaling New Heights
A homogenous approach can stymie growth in a small company with a single salesperson. Imagine walking into a room where everyone thinks the same, has had the same experiences, and shares the same network. While there might be a comforting familiarity, the scope for fresh insights is limited. Enter a diverse sales team, a veritable melting pot of backgrounds, experiences, and worldviews. The breadth of knowledge and understanding they bring to the table allows businesses to see beyond the obvious and tap into uncharted territories.
Each member of a diverse sales team carries a unique professional, personal history, and distinct network. These networks, spanning various sectors, regions, and demographics, are like numerous doors waiting to be opened. A multicultural salesperson might provide insights into the buying behaviors of a particular community, while someone from a different industry background might spot parallels and opportunities overlooked by others. The cumulative effect is a richer, more nuanced understanding of a broad spectrum of potential clients, leading to more inclusive marketing strategies and products that cater to a broader audience.
Embracing such diversity isn’t just about ticking a box; it’s a strategic move. In a world where businesses vie for every inch of customer attention, a diverse sales team can be the very edge that sets a company apart, enabling it to resonate with a broader audience and ensuring that its message isn’t just heard but truly understood and embraced.
Increased Innovation: The Spark of Diverse Minds
Like any other sector, the world of sales thrives on fresh perspectives and new ideas. When sales teams resemble an echo chamber, echoing the same strategies and views, stagnation is inevitable. However, a diverse group of salespeople, each hailing from varied experiences and backgrounds, becomes a cauldron of creativity. Every pitch, every strategy, and every solution they discuss is a culmination of their unique journeys, a blend of traditional wisdom and avant-garde ideas.
Consider a brainstorming session where a salesperson with a background in tech suggests leveraging a new tool. At the same time, another with experience in the arts offers a storytelling approach. Fusing these distinct perspectives can lead to a groundbreaking strategy that neither could have conceived alone. Such diversity acts as the lifeblood of innovation, pushing boundaries and constantly redefining what’s possible. It instigates challenges to the “that’s how we’ve always done it” mindset, compelling teams to iterate, refine, and reinvent.
Moreover, in a landscape where competition is rife, the companies that stand out are unafraid to think differently, to tread unexplored paths. A diverse sales team becomes an organization’s compass in such scenarios, pointing toward opportunities for innovation, ensuring that the business meets its sales targets and pioneers change, and setting benchmarks for others to follow.
The story of the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc dramatized in “The Founder,” offers an invaluable business lesson. While having an innovative product and a robust business model is essential, having a diverse sales team that can control your brand message, reduce dependency, expand your market reach, and fuel innovation is equally crucial.
Small businesses today must avoid the McDonald brothers’ error of over-reliance on a single salesperson. By investing in a diverse and well-rounded sales team, companies can ensure sustainable growth and maintain control over their brand’s destiny.
In the early stages of a business, budgetary constraints can make it challenging to expand an in-house sales team, even when the glaring perils of relying on a lone salesperson become evident. But, in our interconnected age, physical presence and full-time employment are just some of the means to tap into top-tier talent. Outsourcing has emerged as a powerful strategy to bolster a salesforce without unduly straining the finances.
Outsourced salespeople or fractional sales professionals offer a compelling solution. These are seasoned veterans, adept at navigating the intricacies of the sales realm, who can be brought on board for specific campaigns or durations. Their expertise ensures businesses benefit from their wealth of experience without committing to long-term overheads. Similarly, companies specializing in business-development representation can be goldmines for startups and SMEs. They can rapidly amplify a company’s outreach, bringing in leads and opening doors that an individual salesperson might need help to knock on. Leveraging such services, businesses can enjoy the advantages of a diversified team while maintaining a lean operational structure.
With Fractional Vice President’s of Sales, such as Sean O’Shaughnessey of New Sales Expert, it is possible to manage a diverse group of sellers that are not direct company employees. While a less experienced sales manager or the company owner may balk at this type of challenge, it perfectly aligns with Sean’s skills and expertise. Don’t let the lack of sales management expertise prevent the expansion of your company’s sales dreams.
The modern sales landscape offers various flexible solutions for companies eager to grow beyond a singular sales voice. Whether through fractional sales leadership, fractional sales roles, outsourced professionals, and dedicated BDR firms, businesses can craft a multi-dimensional sales strategy that combines the nimbleness of a small team with the expansive reach of a more significant force.
Crafting Tomorrow’s Sales Strategy with Lessons from the Past
The McDonald’s narrative, as described in the movie, “The Founder,” is a poignant reminder of the intricate dynamics between innovation, ambition, and brand representation. While the ambition to grow is innate in every business, the path to achieving this growth can significantly shape its future. As we stand on the precipice of a rapidly changing global market, with opportunities and challenges alike, businesses must pivot towards a more inclusive and diversified sales strategy. Embracing diversity, harnessing the power of collective networks, and leveraging innovative outsourcing solutions are not mere options—they’re necessities. Small businesses, in particular, have an exciting chance to rewrite their sales script, infusing it with the vigor of varied voices and expertise. The journey from a local idea to a global empire is fraught with decisions; ensuring that these decisions are made through a diverse prism can be the defining factor between mere survival and unparalleled success. Let the lessons from the past illuminate the road ahead, reminding us that in diversity lies immense strength and phenomenal potential.
Welcome to another riveting episode of Two Tall Guys Talking Sales with your dynamic hosts, Sean O’Shaughnessey and Kevin Lawson. In this episode, our duo takes on a subject that stirs strong emotions in the sales world: micromanagement. With a combined experience of several decades in sales, Sean and Kevin delve into their philosophies, personal experiences, and provide actionable insights on transitioning from micromanagement to effective leadership. Whether you’re a salesperson, a manager, or a business leader, you’re going to find value in their candid conversation.
Key Topics Discussed:
- Micromanagement in Sales: Sean’s personal aversion to micromanagement, his challenges, and how he navigated them during his 38-year career.
- Transitioning from Micromanaging to Leadership: Kevin’s insights into the delicate balance between engaging the team and inadvertently falling into micromanagement.
- Differentiating Between Green and Seasoned Salespeople: How to manage new salespeople who need structure versus seasoned reps who require trust.
- The Importance of Trust in a Sales Team: Bad examples of trust violations and the cultivation of a culture of trust within the sales organization.
- Becoming a Leader: Strategies and practical advice for transitioning from a micromanager to a leader, and the value it brings to the sales culture.
- Sean: “I despised anybody who was going to drive me day to day, ask me every single thing, question every single deal just didn’t fit well with my personality.”
- Kevin: “How can I help? That’s how the shift comes in my mind from a micromanager to an effective leader. Instead of asking detail, detail, detail, they’re asking about resource, resource, strategy, that’s the big shift for me.”
In this engaging episode of Two Tall Guys Talking Sales, Sean and Kevin don’t just identify the problems associated with micromanagement but provide actionable insights and solutions for how to evolve into an effective leader. Whether you’re just beginning in sales or leading a team, their candid conversation will offer you strategies to avoid micromanagement, build trust within your team, and create a culture of success. Don’t miss this chance to learn from two seasoned sales veterans – tune in to this episode and take your sales leadership skills to the next level!
Bob Robinson, Jr., and his mechanical-engineer father, Bob Robinson, Sr., came up with the idea for a product the world truly needed 25 years ago: a “no-touch” restroom cleaning machine. Their company, Kaivac, is a Hamilton, OH-based manufacturer of cleaning machines. Hamilton is a suburb of Cincinnati, OH.
“We were on our hands and knees, crawling around the bathroom,” recalls Bob, Jr. “It was disgusting. We said, ‘There’s got to be a better way.'”
Through hard work and dedication, the Robinsons created the KaiVac to help solve that initial problem in public restrooms. Over the years, they grew the idea to create dedicated machines to clean kitchen floors, hallway floors, and grocery displays. Beyond its bathroom cleaning technology, it has expanded into floor cleaning and spill response machines and has 18 patents with 16 pending.
Along with growing their manufacturing capabilities, they also grew their sales capabilities. They adopted a hybrid strategy of selling through distribution and selling directly to key customers. Their direct team, under the leadership of Bob Robinson, Jr., who had taken on the role of VP of Sales, closed many enviable customers with massive deals, including Walmart, Kroger, and Target.
They realized that they needed to step up their sales professionalism after having a down year during COVID after having a record-breaking year the year before. They wanted to grow to $75 million in annual revenue within three years and a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of $1 billion in annual revenue within 20 years.
Bob Jr. says Kaivac is just getting started. “At 20 to 25 years in business, you’re at an inflection point where you’ve got resources, tenure, and history and have been through ‘adolescence,'” he says. “Now is the chance to build a professionalized organization.”
They contacted New Sales Expert LLC as the nation was coming out of the global pandemic, but before all the supply chain problems had paused. New Sales Expert LLC is a fractional vice president of sales consultancy. Sean O’Shaughnessey, the CEO of New Sales Expert, is aligned with SalesXceleration and has 38 years of experience in sales and sales management.
According to Sean, “Kaivac is a joy to work with. They are the shining star of Hamilton, OH, and Butler County. They had so much raw potential when I walked in the door; all I had to do was to focus their energy and enthusiasm on working smarter and just a little harder.”
Building an organization with a heart
Kaivac had a great culture to build on to make a great sales culture. Before Sean showed up, the company leadership had already developed their One-Page Strategic Plan and their “Why?” statement that reflects the owners’ Christian faith: “To glorify God by using KAIVAC as an instrument for Good.”
In addition to the “Why?” statement, they had drafted an acronym called FIGS that conveys the “heart” of the company. FIGS—which appears on signs that hang on the factory floor and in break rooms—stands for
- F: “First shall be last, last shall be first.”
- I: Integrity—as in “The truth shall set you free.”
- G: Golden Rule—meaning “treat others how you want to be treated.”
- S: Servant’s Heart, as in “We are in a race to help people.”
The company uses the first three letters of its name–KAI–to inspire the team’s thinking and actions. These letters stand for inspiring phrases such as: “Keep At It,” “Keep Always Improving,” “Keep Attempting the Impossible,” and “(creates) Kick-Ass Inventions.”
Prioritizing net income and growth
Sean’s first change was to make a compensation plan that motivated the sales team to sell bigger deals and to sell them quickly. Kaivac implemented a 50/50 plan in concert with defined territories to keep the Key Account salespeople focused on the goal of more significant and profitable orders.
After the motivation component was in place, it was time to help the team learn how to sell big deals more repeatedly. The big deals of the past had been challenging to work on and, while very profitable, had been disruptive to close. Sean encouraged the company to read John McMahon’s book, “The Qualified Sales Leader,” and with that tome as inspiration, quickly deployed MEDDPICCC to help them qualify deals.
MEDDPICCC by itself is not enough. The company had already licensed Salesforce, one of the highest-rated CRMs on the market, but Sean put MEDDPICCC into the various stages of the sales process to ensure that the salespeople knew all the required information about a big deal. Sean also created dashboards within Salesforce to track deal progress at the management level. The company implemented Sales Plans for Key Accounts and the Power Matrix to document the most influential people in the customer’s decision-making process.
The very first big deals that the company found after Sean started to help them also benefited from the Decision Timeline. The Decision Timeline is a tool to allow the sales team to walk through the entire decision-making process of the customer to understand all of the steps required to make a significant investment decision. It allowed frank and honest conversations to take place with the prospect as the team worked to close the largest deal in the company’s history to date.
Time to run on their own
As with most of the assignments with New Sales Expert, LLC, the goal is to allow the company to run independently. Bob Robinson Jr. was the company’s VP of Sales. Still, he needed to shed those responsibilities to help run the entire company. To finish the transition, Bob and three of his leaders took SalesXceleration‘s Certified Sales Leadership course delivered by Sean O’Shaughnessey.
The Certified Sales Leader (CSL) designation is the country’s most comprehensive sales leadership certification program offered. CSL leadership training and certification will prepare you with the analytical, tactical, and strategic sales management skills needed to drive revenue growth now…and into the future. CSL training expands the skill set of a Sales Manager by providing coaching, techniques, and tools to lead a successful sales team.
All four Kaivac leaders passed the CSL test. One of them, Mike Perazzo, was tagged to take over as Executive Vice President of Sales. According to Mike, “Sean is a master coach for helping shape sales process and methodology. Following his methods will help grow sales faster, transactionally, and strategically. Often a couple of pieces of the puzzle are missing, and Sean helps quickly identify them.
You have everything to gain by having Sean look at your current approach. He is a change agent and disruptive to the status quo. Pushing the pace and flow of deals is his sweet spot. I am a better sales leader because of my time with him.”
Sean O’Shaughnessey of New Sales Expert, LLC states, “Kaivac is a wonderful company. They have created a line of machines that gives pride to the workers in one of the toughest jobs in America – keeping things clean. They are focused on the success of their customers and their employees. They had all of the raw skills within their sales team to be a great sales organization; they only needed me to focus them on activities and techniques that allowed them to close bigger deals faster and at a higher profit level.”
“If anyone works in a clean building with clean restrooms and hard surface floors, they are either cleaning it with Kaivac technology or paying too much for that cleanliness,” Sean explains.
Revenue and profitability have grown since Sean helped Kaivac develop a higher level of sales professionalism. Recent results have shown a dramatic increase in revenue and profitability. The sales and revenue growth have allowed the entire family of Kaivac to prosper. The Robinsons have always considered their employees an extension of their family. The company’s prosperity is passed along to team members through a bonus structure for the whole company. It all fits into the spirit of Kaivac. Bob Jr. says, “Our organization was built to have heart.”
If you want to learn more about Kaivac, you can head to their website at www.Kaivac.com. You should also check out this video: The Story of Kaivac. Kaivac is on its way to outer space on revenue growth, and everyone should check out their entertaining Q3 kickoff video about the growth of Kaivac.
To learn more about Fractional Sales Management and how it can help your company, go to www.NewSales.Expert.
In this episode of Two Tall Guys Talking Sales, Sean O’Shaughnessey and Kevin Lawson discuss the importance of standing out and differentiating oneself in the competitive world of sales. They explore how salespeople can escape the commodity mindset and become trusted advisors to their clients, ultimately leading to more money and success.
Key takeaways from the episode include:
- The importance of differentiating oneself in the sales process
- Understanding and embracing the role of an expert in your field
- “The Challenger Sale” book’s approach, and its impact on sales success
- The dangers of proposing too early and devaluing your offering
- Creating value for your clients by helping them be successful
- Evaluating and improving your sales pipeline to increase revenue
The hosts also mention insightful books and previous podcast guests, such as Kelly Crandall and Jim Hardwick (both Fractional Sales VPs aligned with Sales Xceleration), who provide valuable perspectives on sales and leadership.
Sean and Kevin encourage our listeners to reach out with any questions or topics they would like to see covered in future episodes.
Don’t miss this episode full of practical advice and insights on improving your sales game, adding value to your clients, and ultimately making more money. Listen now to learn from the experts, and start transforming your sales approach today!
By Sean O’Shaughnessey & Kevin Lawson
As B2B-focused businesses navigate the ever-changing landscape of a post-COVID economy, sales leaders must adopt and institute strategies to meet the demands of a business in growth or recovery mode.
While the goal for a sales organization may be to sustain the growth trajectory aligned with organizational goals, the year-over-year approach to achieving success can vary significantly. Sales leadership styles depend on the current situation, the starting point, and the existing team charged to accomplish the goal. Good sales leaders find a way to achieve the annual goal; great sales leaders find ways to achieve the goal and systemize the process to allow for repeatable growth, pivots, and rapid scale.
Growth Focused Leadership
Sales leaders focused on growth must proactively identify new market opportunities, verticals, geographies, platforms, or sales talent. They must invest in new sales channels and technologies, along with onboarding and training programs to support the growth of their sales teams and the acquisition of new client relationships.
When sales teams are in a breakout stage of growth, it can be challenging to gain the discipline to systems and alignment on processes and approaches due to the nature of managing client expectations on a wildly rising revenue outlook. This situation demands that all of the skills of a sales leader be applied consistently and strategically across the team and sales practices.
Seasoned leaders know that hiring for an increased workload and rapidly scaling teams can be tempting. However, this approach can often lead to problems down the line. Further, we must suppress the desire to hire quickly instead of exercising patience in finding the right candidate to continue to scale teams and culture appropriately. That patience means we must endure the short-term challenges of being under-resourced and under a great deal of pressure to keep performing as if we already had the resources on the team. Instead, it is essential to focus on finding the right candidate who will not only be able to handle the current workload but also contribute to your team’s culture and help your organization achieve long-term success. Take the time to vet candidates carefully and consider not only their skills and experience but also their values and how they fit into your team’s dynamic. By prioritizing quality over speed, you’ll set your team up for success in the long run.
Another important consideration when building a team is to prioritize scalability. It’s easy to get caught up in your organization’s immediate needs and hire for the present moment, but it’s crucial to think about how your team will grow and evolve. Look for candidates with the potential to take on new responsibilities and leadership roles as your organization expands. Consider investing in training and professional development programs to help your team members acquire new skills and stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends. By prioritizing scalability, you’ll be better equipped to adapt to changing business needs and continue to achieve success over the long term.
Discipline to proven systems is essential for leadership and having transparent KPIs and organizational goal communications. The rigor and discipline of a sales leader in a growth cycle are particularly demanding. One primary concern for leaders in this mode is talent loss due to competitive pressures to grab your resources for their growth. It would help if you had experience and discipline for these growth moments.(more…)
In this thought-provoking podcast, hosts Kevin Lawson and Sean O’Shaughnessey dive into the challenges salespeople face when their sales process doesn’t align with the buyer’s journey. Using the example of a beer industry manufacturer, they explore the difficulties encountered when dealing with prospects who are only interested in the price and user count and how this can lead to feeling like a commodity. This insightful discussion underscores the importance of adapting to the buyer’s journey to sell more effectively.
As the conversation continues, Sean and Kevin emphasize the need to understand the buyer’s process, from recognizing the signs of a good prospect to determining the right time to buy. They highlight the importance of asking the right questions, listening to the buyer, and identifying their current position in the evaluation process. The hosts also discuss the concept of commercial teaching, which involves meeting prospects at their level of knowledge about the industry, solution, or product.
In addition, the duo addresses the challenge of long sales cycles and the factors that contribute to them, such as not understanding where the buyer is in their journey or not setting up for success earlier in the sales process. They encourage salespeople to be self-reflective and analyze their pipelines, identifying deals that may be stuck or taking longer than expected due to a lack of alignment with the buyer’s journey.
Furthermore, Kevin and Sean touch upon the importance of knowing the buyer persona, recognizing that different people within an organization have different perspectives and needs. By understanding the type of person you’re speaking with, salespeople can connect more quickly and effectively.
The podcast concludes with a challenge for salespeople to be introspective and consider how they can better align their sales process with the buyer’s journey for improved results.
In this episode of the podcast, Kevin and Sean discuss the necessity for sales leaders to adapt their advice and strategies in today’s ever-changing environment. With the numerous changes and challenges that businesses face daily, sales leaders must constantly evolve and stay ahead of the curve to help their teams succeed.
The discussion touches on how being a trusted advisor to clients is crucial for success regardless of market shifts and economic turmoil. The ability to understand and professionally empathize with clients and their challenges allows salespeople to guide clients and prospects toward solutions effectively. Emphasizing the significance of leading indicators in sales activities and reframing value propositions according to clients’ perspectives is vital.
To achieve enduring success, sales leaders must instill the importance of understanding a prospect’s business, its competitors, and its market value to the sales team. This will ultimately make them trusted advisors to their clients and help them navigate the complex and ever-changing business landscape.
In this inspiring episode of “Two Tall Guys Talking Sales,” the hosts, Sean and Kevin, welcome Jim Hardwick, Chief Community Officer for Sales Xceleration and Fractional VP of Sales.
As a seasoned sales professional with 36 years of experience in healthcare, Jim shares his journey from climbing the corporate ladder to finding purpose and joy in his current role. He attributes his newfound happiness to a paradigm shift towards serving others, a realization sparked by a life-changing trip to Kenya, where he and his wife started a dental clinic.
Discussing the importance of servant leadership in building better sales organizations, Jim emphasizes the impact of serving clients, employees, and the community. He believes that when business owners and sales leaders focus on understanding and helping their employees achieve their goals and aspirations, the entire organization benefits. This approach creates a positive work environment that fosters employee loyalty and drives business growth.
Moreover, Jim stresses the significance of actively listening to employees, valuing their input, and being open to change. Servant leadership, according to Jim, extends beyond grand gestures; it encompasses small acts of kindness and attentiveness, creating a ripple effect that ultimately comes back to the giver tenfold.
In this engaging conversation, Jim Hardwick leaves the audience with the powerful message of giving freely without keeping score and embracing a mentality of service instead of taking. His uplifting stories and passion for serving others will surely inspire listeners to adopt a more intentional and compassionate approach in their personal and professional lives.