Jeb Blount is the founder of Sales Gravy and author of numerous best-selling books like Fanatical Prospecting, which was the winner of ringDNA’s Sales Madness Bracket Challenge for most influential sales book.
Today we talk about, well, pretty much everything. I had read Jeb’s latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Objections: The Art and Science of Getting Past No, I had a ton of questions prepared to ask him, and we didn’t talk about any of it! No worries though, just sit back and enjoy. I had a blast talking with Jeb. You’ll enjoy it too!
Andy Paul: Welcome to the show. Or welcome back to the show.
Jeb Blount: Thanks Andy. And I’m really glad to be back. I’m a, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. You have me on a couple of times, and like your show is so hot that if you can get on here, you’re a, you’re a rock star,
Andy Paul: Well, I think you’re near, near the top of the class. I think that’s going to be number five. Maybe. No parents that’s
Jeb Blount: something like that. Yeah.
Andy Paul: So you’re in elite company as you should be. So, where are you weathering the storm?
Jeb Blount: Well, we’re at the sales gravy headquarters in, in Thompson, Georgia, which is near Augusta, Georgia. And we are, we’re very fortunate that we’re, we have, you know, good, good offices to go to. So we haven’t had to, to lock ourselves down in our houses too much.
Andy Paul: Oh, that’s good. I mean, is your complex right there at your house or?
Jeb Blount: it’s down the road. we’re. We’re about two miles down the road from our house. So we’ve, we sent most of our administrative group home and a couple of our sales people are working from home, but our production crew. And that are running our studios. Cause we run so much virtual, virtual training out of here.
Our production crew comes in every single day. And then Carrie, who is my wife and our CFO, is on every single day. And then, and then I come in when I can. And frankly, this has been the longest stretch. I was calculating a day that I have been home without traveling since 1994.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah, I was, I was calculating that as well. And I think for me, it was, 1985.
Jeb Blount: Wow. That’s amazing.
Andy Paul: There’s this rhythm. I was talking about this with another guest recently. So there’s just this, you feel it in your body, right? It’s like, it’s not that I’m in love with the travel, the business travel and so on, but it’s just, it’s just something I’ve always done and yeah, it’s, it’s hard.
Jeb Blount: It is. Although I did 311 nights last year on the road and, and I’d done that I’ve been 300 nights plus for four years in a row. So prior to that, you know, we were in the 250 day range. And by the time we hit March, and this is the good side and bad side of something so horrific happening.
But by the time we hit March, I mean, I’ve been on the road pretty much every single day since January 1st. And I was. You know, I was just burnt already. And so the slow down for me was, in a lot of ways was just a, it was an opportunity to just catch my breath. And it’s a lot of, it’s just been, because business has just been so good and the economy has been so hot.
It’s been hard not to take every piece of business that came, you know, comes our way. Because as I say, when it’s, you know, when it’s sunshine and you need to make hay and, so we were doing that. So I think that the, I think it’s, it’s been. It’s been an interesting process. Now, the last 60 days I’ve written a 80,000 word book that will be out June 15th, called virtual selling, and that dominated my life.
So I had this little brief period for about three weeks where. I was like, man, I’m off the road. I can think I can work. I can do these things. And then one morning in the shower, I had this grandiose idea to write this brand new book and then off to the races. And you’ve, you know, you’re an author as well.
So you can imagine it usually takes me 12 to 18 months to write a book and compressing that add into 60 days, in the book, the book got turned on Monday, it’s insanity. So I felt like I was traveling at the time because I just had to turn the whole world off around me.
Andy Paul: Well, how’d you do that? Cause you know, obviously you’re still delivering training and other things, so where’d you find the time to write 80,000 words, which is a long book.
Jeb Blount: It’s barely staying married. But it’s, it’s just working. It’s working from, you know, I got up at four o’clock this morning. I, you know, we’re, we’re in the editing stage right now. So the book got turned in on Monday and you, you filled in the spaces and then. If you can get, you know, long periods of time, what you have to do is you have to absolutely completely become myopic and focus on the book, which is that’s where your that’s, where, you know, your relationships get a little bit tense.
And I could tell towards the end, I’m starting to get, you know, these, these, you know, death looks from, from Carrie because she’s talking to me and I’m like, I’m barely paying attention. So it’s a. It there’s, there’s a process to it, obviously, proving that you can do it and then maybe even thinking, and I think this is important for salespeople, as well as you start thinking about selling in the new world order that it took me so long to write books before simply because I was traveling all the time.
And even though I wrote a lot on airplanes, it’s hard to get a rhythm when you can’t string hours together at the same time. But if you aren’t doing all of that travel, suddenly there’s time that that gets freed up. And in that space, you can do amazing things. And one of the things, Andy, that I’ve been working with our clients on and with their salespeople really all over the globe right now, we’re teaching classes in Japan and Beijing and Singapore and India, in Australia, South Africa, of course, in the United States.
We’re so we’re, we’re, we’re able to touch people all over the place because we have the ability through our virtual studios to touch them. Whereas before that we have to get on an airplane and fly 24 hours to go see somebody. Is that the same thing? It happens to you. If you have to drive across town to run an initial meeting, then, then that takes time.
But if you could do the initial meeting over video, now you may have to go in person to do discovery because you sell a piece of equipment or you sell something that requires you to go in and get hands on with a problem.
Andy Paul: Then actually see what’s going on
Jeb Blount: Right. But if you, if you put your effort and you put the time investment in discovery, where most of the sales process should be in complex deals, then on either side of that, your initial call, which is really a qualifying, you know, getting enough interest to move forward, call and your.
In your presentation, those could be moved into virtual. And if you’re doing discovery with a bunch of different stakeholders, maybe they’re spread out, then some of your discovery can be in person and some of your discovery could be virtual. You take all the travel time out and suddenly you can see, you can have more prospects in your pipeline.
You can have more time to, you know, to build more proposals and, and, and, and do more. More be more productive and by the way, shorten the cell cycle. So I think that, I think that there’s gonna be blended by the way, even people, even accounting, we work with it with some of the Saas companies. We deal with a lot of the account executives, right.
Never show their face on, on camera, but what if we could get them to do more virtual calls and get off the phone, they can probably improve their closing rate. So they’re blending in a virtual call, video call into their normal process. So I think that. The lesson that I’ve learned is I can get a lot done if I’m not getting on airplanes and in cars and an Uber is, and in hotels.
And I think the same thing’s going to happen for salespeople when they figure out that in this new world order, people are going to be more, I would say, open to, but more used to communicating on, on a, on a wide array of channels. And if salespeople can blend those channels appropriately, For the customer, the opportunity, the sales cycle and the product that salespeople are gonna find that it’s easier to sell and they can be more productive and they can make more money.
Andy Paul: I agree. And I think you used the right word, which is blend, right? I think that so often people that were traveling were traveling indiscriminately cause they felt like they needed to be out of the office. And yeah, my experience for years selling very complex, expensive equipment overseas is you have to use it judiciously.
To your point. I wanted to be there for discovery for sure, but I could do most everything else remotely. And then I’d show up for the close or, you know, contract negotiation or whatever. But yeah, I could close multimillion dollar deals with only seeing the customer two or three times.
Jeb Blount: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Andy Paul: And part of it was a monetary pressure because we had the constraint cause I was working for startups.
We couldn’t afford the travel. So when you have those constraints, oftentimes they force you to be better at what you’re doing.
Jeb Blount: That’s exactly right. Well that in the new book I talk about when I started Sales Gravy, 13 years ago, I left a big fortune 500 company where I was a senior level executive and I had, you know, all the trappings of being a senior, you know, senior level executive: corner office, a couple of assistants, you know, riding around on a private jet.
And suddenly I’m building a business from scratch using my own bootstrap money. And I couldn’t do that either. Right. There’s no way I could go on, on physical sales calls, but my entire life had been in person and selling. So I was forced, like you said, in a, in a startup situation to figure out a way to sell big deals.
Now that didn’t mean that I didn’t go to some in-person calls because the two biggest enterprise deals sold at the beginning of starting my company that. Put my company on the map, in both of those cases, I went to the closing meetings with the executives I got on the airplane, but I had to, I had to make that bet very carefully because when you’re starting up, you mean even spending $500 on a plane ticket, if it doesn’t work out like that, you’re not getting that money back.
Andy Paul: No, not Not at all. Well, I think that that’s the point I was making is that, and I see it, I see it a lot of times with companies have really embraced inside sales is that they forget the magic of actually showing up in person at the right time. And they think, well, I’ll just do it all remotely. I remember talking to a group of enterprise sellers and I said, well, you know, who’s got average contract value over a quarter million dollars.
And number of people raised their hand. I said, well, how many of you actually go visit your customer? During the sales process and almost none of them did. And my son. Hmm. Well, if I were competing against you, I’d go in all those deals. Cause I’d go visit the customer.
Jeb Blount: And, and that’s what, when we look at, like there was a big move. If we go back, you know, go back 2010, 2008, nine, 10 coming out of the great recession. I mean, we were, there was already a blend of inside and outside and we think this is new, but you know, back in 1993, when I was carrying a briefcase, you know, on the street, I had an inside salesperson in California who set appointments for me.
So it wasn’t, this, isn’t some brilliant new thing that we’ve done. Exactly. So, so, but, but if you, if you go back, what happened was there was this pendulum swing to inside. So, you know, my, my practice we started working with inside sales teams, and I can’t tell you how many companies went all inside and then realized what a strategic mistake that was because they lost contact with their customers and the really forward looking ones did exactly what you said.
They were. They were judicious about where they were going to spend their time. And especially with their larger customers, they made sure that even though a person might work an account executive or an account manager might work inside most of the time that there were, there were customer visitation, there were, there were contact with those folks and, and really big deal that needed to get closed.
You would, you would go, you would go see them. So. I think that it’s, that’s why I go back to blending. I think blending is the name of the game and I think even, even pure inside sales group. So when we’re working with inside sales teams, especially with account executives, and we’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s like show your face on camera when you’re doing a demo.
Let them see you. Like when you start the call, start with you on the camera, stop hiding behind it because you’re a real human being and they need to see you and, and account executives are scared of that. So they hide behind the phone. Nope,
Andy Paul: Why are they afraid of that though?
Jeb Blount: people are afraid of the camera and people are afraid of the camera.
I mean, when you, and one of the things is.
Andy Paul: soul?
Jeb Blount: Well, there is some, there is some good data behind this and the way that the human brain works. But if you think about it, most people spend 30 to 70% of the time on a video called looking at themselves and what they see and the camera makes them disgusted because you look like crap in a camera, a webcam.
You just don’t look good in a webcam, especially when you’re looking at yourself. I mean, but, but imagine this that you. You’re you go out to one of your big enterprise customers, Andy, and you’re going on a sales call. And then you put a mirror on your customer’s desk during the discovery call and you spend the entire time looking at yourself in the mirror while you’re asking them a questions, you would feel the same way you pick out everything that was wrong with yourself, and they would probably kick you out of the office at some point,
Andy Paul: they would stop talking and wait for you to leave.
Jeb Blount: So that’s a, it’s just a natural thing for human beings to do. So I there’s, it’s understandable why that happens and look, you know, I’m, you know, even on this podcast, I ask you, is this a video call because I’m conscious of, I want to be in the best light and the, in the right camera on the right set.
Because that matters. And I think for accounting, cause it’s the same thing, but it’s also helping them understand the consequences of not showing your face. If you show your face and there’s beautiful data on this right now, gong IO did a really nice, survey on the, so he looked at a hundred thousand customer interactions, right?
Purely inside. So this was account executives talking to customers and the account executives who were, you know, were, were, showed their face on a webcam, had a 44% higher close rate than those that did. Those are th that’s. That’s not nothing to laugh at. And. SalesLoft did on at another study with their group on, you know, on virtual calls that is 75% close rate when they showed their face on camera and, and, and their conclusion on that was this, isn’t a joke.
This is, this is, this means something. So for everybody that’s in sales, no matter what your role is or where you fit, what, what. We’re what we’re discovering is that blending matters and it wasn’t that we’re discovering it suddenly. We’ve known this for a long time. You knew this for a long time. I’ve known this for a long time.
It’s just that suddenly there’s a spotlight on it and we’re recognizing that it can work and that like, Like, you know, maybe another way of saying is that I thought the only way to write a book was the way I wrote books until I wrote this last book. And then I realized, you know what, I can, I can, I could pump out three or four books a year if I did it like this.
So we’ve always thought that the only way to sell would be this, or the only way to do training would be this. And. It turns out that it isn’t the only way and human beings, because we’re, you know, we, we don’t, I guess, what do you call it? What is it? And an invention is the, are the necessity is the mother of invention, but we, we figure it out and it’s a good
Andy Paul: think the thing that’s interesting on the video part though, too, is, is. More than ever, you know, this is need to sort of demonstrate your humanity in sales. And I think this idea of, you know, people become so accustomed, I forgot to use zoom. I want to see you, right. If we’re going to use zoom to do a demo, or go to meeting or whatever, we just see people these days.
And so it’s like, well, if you’re not letting me see you, why is that? because there’s been newer research and they want the whole zoom boom, that, that, psychologist saying, look, it’s, it’s actually not as an effective communication, medium as just listening to someone which may be the case, right.
That you miss some nuances. Cause the, the quality of the signal and so on, you don’t get the nuance of the body language fine, but people still want to see you. Right. This is a human business. And I think trying to hide something, people, their walls go up and say, well, why, what are you hiding?
Jeb Blount: Well, I was, if we, if we took a look to the psychologist and said, you know, from a listening standpoint, video is harder, then, then look at it from this side. If you’re the sales person and you are, you’re engaging a prospect on video, it is much harder for you to listen and pay attention. You have to train your brain to use peripheral vision, for instance, to pick up body language and tone of voice.
And it’s hard concentrating on the camera because you need to be making eye contact into the camera. However, You’re there to sell people. You’re there to influence people. And if you want to influence other people, if something called in coding, you need to be able to, to show them bodies language you want to create as great of a close effect similarly to and communication as you can, because there’s no human being, being on earth, except for a moron who would tell you that?
That he, you know, in person, us talking to each other is the worst type of communication. It is the absolute best type of communication. It’s just not the most efficient communication is sometimes it can be dangerous and a pandemic. However, if you can get as close as you possibly can to that, then you can win.
So as a sales person, I think that the psychologists are absolutely right. It’s much harder to listen and really take in the whole message. Deep listening on a video call. But it doesn’t matter because if, if the, if the people on the other side, the call can see your face and they can see your body language, and we teach people to make sure that their torso up and you can see your hands, they can see your face, see your body language.
They can hear your tone of voice. They can, you know, they can, they can respond to your pace and they can see that there’s congruence between the words that you use and your, and your body language and your voice. They’re going to trust you. When, when people trust you, they have a tendency to buy from you.
So for the sales person, Being on screen is the best thing you can do. And by the way, I get on a lot of calls where stakeholders are all, they have just their name up on the black screen of death on, you know, on zoom. I don’t care. I stand there in my suit and I deliver like, they’re all looking at me cause I have to assume that they can all see me and, and, and the very next time I do it, everybody gets on video. Because, you know, but, but I think that that’s, I think that it’s that important. And you know, when we start thinking about negotiation, for example, you know, one of the things in the, in an inc we talk about is, you know, as being selected as the vendor of choice, this is a big piece of that, right? So if they see you and they trust you and they know you, and as you take them through the process, they see you even more and they become familiar with your face.
And it means something to them. We know that in sales, the most consistent predictor of outcome is the emotional experience that people have with you, all things being equal. And if, if that is the case, then yeah, greater emotional experience. And there’s more motivation to do business with you. Then you’re going to be in a much better position from a negotiating standpoint than you are if you were a faceless human being with just a voice.
Andy Paul: Well, but you also make the point in the book and which was one that I brought out in one of my books too, is that yeah. If you can see somebody, you can then actually use your intuition and your instinct to say, yeah, we are the vendor of choice. So you call it the implicit vendor of choice. Right? This is.
That’s if you have any experience at all. I mean, in my career, I knew the moment that happened. Right. And I developed the instincts and experience. It could be six months before I want to deal, but I knew at that point I was the vendor of choice. oftentimes you could want to reinforce that being in person.
And I think there’s, I don’t call it a generational issue, but yeah, a lot of people have grown up in sort of the inside sales environment. This is a big challenge for them to understand that. Yeah, she can do a better job if you can actually see someone. And I think this could lead. I hope cause I’m seeing some companies are tiptoeing.
This direction is to start using more judicious use of actually going and meeting people once I get back to normal. And so you have that blends are coming out. Cause they’re seeing through video that, Oh, if I do this, well, just think I want you better be in
Jeb Blount: Yes. That’s exactly right. And so if you’re a leader right now, what you should be doing is mapping your sales process. And this is, this is going to shift based on the size of the customer, based on the geography. All of those things is there’s no or white here, but I would be mapping the sales process and I would be looking at it and trying to figure out where I can put in video versus in person.
And if I’m inside, where do I need to go outside versus in person, that’s going to give me, been wind probability in my favor, in that particular situation, you, you want to start doing that. And the idea here is. The same reason why there was such a move into inside sales was if we took a group of, of say Saas sales representatives, and we put them out geographically, let’s say you have an office in Chicago and office in Tampa.
And all of a sudden Atlanta and those SAS sales people went out and met with clients face to face and did demos face to face. The close ratios would be much higher than they are on inside sales because the human, the human would, would move it. The problem is, is that you just, it limits the number of people that you can, that you can close.
And when you have a SAS program that can, you know, that 16 million businesses can use, that’s our a long way, you know, a LA very expensive in a, you know, a really long time to ramp up and you need to ramp up growth fast. So if you’re inside, you can get a lot more velocity. Cause you can talk to a lot more people, even though your close ratios are going to be lower.
And when you look at the trade off. It makes sense to do that. And if you just look at blending and your whole Salesforce, what you want to do is you want to blend the, the, the right communication channel, whether it’s in person or a virtual channel, which should be phone or email or text or video or whatever, and the right way.
Hey, so that you have the house probability of closing more deals faster at the lowest cost. And. All of that comes from it. It’s a, it’s a complete algorithm. It’s not just one thing. Can I, can I close, you know, can I close business and do it as cheap as I possibly can? Well, yeah, you can do that, but you’re not going to close a lot of business.
So it’s the, it’s the, it’s all of those things together. And in the middle of that, what gives you the highest probability and which is, which is why I’m a student of probability, not methodology. The methodology to me needs to match the moment. So I’m not an evangelist. I love all the people that I’m an evangelist for this.
I’m not an evangelist for anything other than talking with people and having conversations and probability because nothing is nothing is right. Nothing is wrong. Everything in sales works and you can, you could say, I could sell, you know, I can sell seven figure deals all day long on the phone.
Sure. You can, you know, but you can also second sales sell seven days, seven figure deals all day long in person. So you can, the question is what’s what methodology or what blend of methodologies or communication channels is going to increase the probability that when you engage customers that you win those deals.
At the, at a, at a cost level that, that, that lets you drop it to the bottom line.
So, so I thin k
Andy Paul: you’re talking about being deliberate though. And this is, this is a part where I think many sales organizations miss these days is yeah. They want to scale the pipeline, but they’re doing such a way. They’re basically just playing the odds. And as I believe, I don’t wanna speak for you.
But I mean, from my perspective, it’s like, well, no, I want to shape the odds in my favor. Right as I
Jeb Blount: That’s exactly right.
Andy Paul: And so, yeah, I’m a big fan of probability too. I know he’s not, my numbers are, I always figured there’s way to make my numbers better, those ratios better. And so I just not going to say, look, I’m gonna put all this crap on the top of the funnel.
And I know if I do that, I’ll get a certain percentage of it, which is the way most, not most, but a good, good share of the SAS companies operate as opposed to saying, well, how do I take that 20% win ratio and make it 25%.
Jeb Blount: Well, you know, one of the things you said earlier that we skipped over, but I think it’s important because it’s, it’s, there’s an art form that, that some of this is just experience. Some of it is just pure talent. When I first started off in sales, I had a sales manager, the greatest sales leader I’ve ever worked for a guy named Bob Blackwell.
Amazing. And in an incredible strategist, like. Dude got enterprise level complex cells at a level that I’ve never seen anybody else understand. He just got it. And it was like a Wayne Gretzky kind of dang. Like he, he just could see everything in a deal slowed down in front of him. But the very first day I worked for him he got on a whiteboard and he drew through this image that looked like a set of stairs. So I started at the bottom and went to the top and he said, this is where you start in a sale and a large deal. And this is where you went and he drew a dollar sign. He said, someplace in the middle, you close the deal.
You don’t always know, but you close it here. It’s not closed there and it’s not closed here. So if you want to win the deal, start at the end and work your way backwards and pick the steps that you’re going to have to go through with this particular prospect based on what you know about them and build your process that way step by step by step by step.
And when you said like I, you would be in a deal and you, you just knew when you had it, like that’s a level of instinct that I think I’m not sure that that it’s something that we can even like give people. I don’t think you can write a book about it. I think that there are just some people who get it.
And I also think that experience, like there’s a period of time when you start picking up on patterns, like you can see the patterns in your head and you don’t even know it. It’s just happening at the subconscious level and you start putting those together and then you say, this is the deal that I’m going to win.
And then what you do, and this is where, you know, we’re, you know, we’re Andy where you are like, know, like in the top 2%. Cause I, I, and I may be wrong about this, but within what you do is just like you get myopically focused on those deals in your pipeline, that your subconscious tells you, your brain tells you all the evidence tells you this deal’s going to close and all the other stuff you don’t spend any time with.
And, you know, if, if one of those lottery tickets come through, that’s good, but you then move that way. So what happens is a lot of the deals in your pipeline that are never going to close, they just automatically fall to the wayside. And then you just, and you start refilling the funnel with new opportunities.
But it’s sort of a natural progression because of the way that you focus, whereas a salesperson who has doesn’t have that much experience or isn’t able to, to pull out those different patterns. And by the way, this, I think some of this is part of negotiation too, is when you, when you don’t see those patterns, what happens is you start treating every single deal or opportunity in your pipeline.
Like it’s exactly the same. So you put the same amount of effort on those, on those issues. Yeah.
Andy Paul: Well, that’s something that I think experience teaches you is to your point is yeah. You recognize patterns, but you also understand the context, which is, this is a unique situation, right? This is this, person’s not the same as the other person and things are sort of happening in the same.
So yeah, I can, I can just follow this pattern, which I think is what too many sales people do, as opposed to saying, is this going to go the same way to the next step as it did before, and be deliberate about analyzing that.
Jeb Blount: So I know that you work with a lot of sales leaders and that’s, that’s your, one of the things that you’re mature a master at is helping leaders help their salespeople. The way that I learned how to do this was because I had this great mentor, Bob Blackwell, and then I had other leaders after that. So it wasn’t, I, you know, when I got experience.
The way that I describe it. As you compress experience, you can compress experience. If you have a good leader and a good coach and someone who can see those clues and is asking you questions and making you find those things. So, what, what Bob would do is we would put us in these murder board sessions where we would take our deals and we would have to kill the deal.
Like he would, you have to find all of the things that would kill your deal and then solve for those issues. And, and most of those things never transpired, but it was through that process that you began to become aware of the, of the, of the patterns. So someone was teaching me the patterns. It wasn’t that I was learning them.
And I think that’s also an issue that we face, especially in inside sales. That I’ve seen is that you’ve got, you know, you’ve got a lot of really young managers that are sitting on these big open office floors, by the way, that are all gonna go away. There’s no open office concept is dead.
Andy Paul: A lot of plexiglass coming into the office near you?
Jeb Blount: Which is going to be the best damn thing that ever happened as inside salespeople, because they’re not going to be distracted by the person next to them, but these, but these leaders there, they’ve got, they’ve got spans of control that are way too wide. And they didn’t go through some of the crucibles that a lot of, you know, a lot of leaders have had to go through to move into those jobs.
And I don’t know that they always understand strategy. I think what they’ve learned is look at a dashboard, like you said, Put this much into the pipe. If the pipe is this big, this much is going to come out of it. Oh, by the way, they missed forecast every single freaking month, every month, because that’s not how you build a forecast because that’s not a forecast.
That’s just a pipe dream, but they do those things. And so I’m not, I’m not casting aspersions on leaders. But I am saying that great salespeople almost always come from great leaders. They have a great coach or a great mentor. And by the way, not always the nicest people like, Bob man, he would put his foot up your rear end so fast and he would hurt your feelings so fast, but you learn from him and all of the great sales leaders that I had were that way, like they were challenging you all the time on what you thought was true.
And I think that we’re totally off the subject now, but I think that there needs to be an awakening in sales, leadership, understanding the role that you play and how important you are. Not only to making yourself people better, but to their livelihoods, their careers and their families, and understanding that if you understand that role that you play.
Get deeper into the deals that they’re running. Get side by side with them, understand what they’re working on. Ask really hard questions, put them on the spot, let them fail from time to time, let them, let them lose a deal that they told you they were going to win and you knew they were going to lose it so they can learn from it and then come back and help them learn from it versus, you know, just being so data-driven and you know, and velocity driven that you never take time to develop the people that are going to have your job tomorrow.
Andy Paul: Well, so let me ask you this question cause you you’re one of the most prominent sales trainers around and, and yeah, I’m wondering whether what impact sales training really has in a relative sense is, you know, we spend these. Billions of dollars a year, $20 billion, I think in the U S on sales training. And it’s not really clear, it’s moving the needle. Broad, broad picture of sellers is like, but to your point, precisely is, yeah, the impact comes from the bosses and we’re in this performance based profession and the managers, the bosses, the coaches don’t know how to coach performance.
So what if we sort of flipped that expenditure on its head and said, well, let’s, let’s go spend the bulk of that $20 billion. On training the managers, the coaches, how to do their job, to be these people that the teach and inspire closely bestsellers.
Jeb Blount: I think that we’ve been, I mean, we’ve been talking about this for 30 years, so, I mean, this is not, this is not a new conversation and you know, there’s not, there’s not a company or client that we engage that, that we, that that’s not where we begin, which is. If we teach yourselves people, this and the leaders aren’t engaged, or they’re not there, or we don’t teach them how to coach.
Then there’s a certain amount of what we teach. That’s going to just disappear into, you know, into nowhere because the leaders weren’t there. And so it’s one of the reasons as a training organization, because we are focused on outcome. We want, we want measurable outcomes from the training that we do now.
Some of it is measurable. Some of it isn’t measurable some ways, just because of the nature of training. But I was on a, on a call this morning with one of my clients in Hong Kong. And we were walking through the metrics that matter. We were walking through, you know, we have, you know, five different groups of leaders that were running through 10 different set of metrics.
We’re training the leaders, we’re training to sales people, and we’ve been working with them for three years and we’ve moved the needle greatly. And we see a lot of our company, our customers, where we’re doubling sales. Are tripling sales companies are growing because of what we’re teaching. And there’s two things that drive that.
One, the training is not an event. So when, when we’re working with clients in our vernacular at sales gravy, we call it integrated partnerships where we’re integrated into their world. They’ve given us a certain segment of their training. So typically we they’ve. They’ve come to the conclusion that the tree, the way I say traditional, because it’s new, but the way sales enablement is working is sales enablement are a bunch of administrators who really don’t know how to teach salespeople, people how to sell.
So we’re practitioners, everybody on my team is a practitioner. So we’re not like coming in and like dumping training on a sales organization at an event we’re teaching the sales organization over a long period of time. One of those requirements is that right? The leaders all go through our coaching program and that they’re, the leaders are connected and that when we do training, the leaders are in the training like leaders don’t get to go someplace else.
And Oh, by the way, the other rule, and this is, I mean, we’re just, we just dictate this. We’re not asking for permission. The leaders can’t be in the back of the room on a laptop. And I’ve, I’ve had this conversation with how many vice presidents of sales. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve had this conversation.
I’m like they can’t be on the back of the room about top and you need to tell them, and if you don’t tell them, I’m going to call them out and I’m gonna tell them, get off their laptop because they send the wrong message to the salespeople. This is an important, so it is a, you know, it is a connect the dots.
And the reason why there is, you know, like you use the word, a performance driven, you know, process sales is performance. It is, it is a skill. It is no different than being an athlete. And it, and I. Believe that sales professionals are the elite athletes in the business world. I believe at my core, because if you don’t have salespeople, nothing else happens.
So you have to train people, you have to train them and train them and train them. And then you have to coach them and coach them and coach them. So if you just look at the, if you look at the continuum, it’s really simple. You train, you observe, you coach and you give feedback and you run that play over and over and over again.
Right. Everything else is academic. So my message to a sales leader is if you are not standing in front of your salespeople, you are not doing your job. I don’t care how many reports. I don’t care about the email. I don’t care about anything that you’re doing in your office. You are unemployed unless you’re in front of your people, right?
By the way, the same thing for salespeople, salespeople, you are unemployed unless you we’re standing in front of a customer, either physically or virtually, it doesn’t make a difference to me where it is. That’s where the job is. So I think that as you know, from, from a company standpoint, It’s the, it’s the managerial courage to hold their sales leaders accountable for being in front of their people, whether it’s an, a training or whether it’s on the floor during a night in a, in a normal day.
And whether those leaders, by the way, are gifted at coaching or have been trained to coach their presence alone matters because when the leader is on the floor, the floor gets better. And I’ll give you an example. This is with a group of leaders and I’ve been working with this group for eight years now.
The first time I met them, it was an inside sales team, 200 salespeople on the floor, and they had 12 leaders managing those 200 people. So pretty wide span of control. And the first time I came in, I just came in and observed. That’s how I, when I, when I engage a company, I’d go there and I sit, so I got myself a chair.
I sat right in the middle of the sales floor and I watched, never saw a leader come onto the floor all day long. So the next day I got with the leaders and said or asked, the question, what were you doing all day? And so we’ll, we’re listening to recordings of calls. I said, really? Like, why are you listening to recordings of calls?
Well, we’re listening to see what people are doing wrong so we can coach them. I said, well, one of the calls that you’re listening to, how, how old are those calls? Well, usually they’re about two weeks old, but we’re, you know, sometimes they’re sooner than that. And I said, so let me guess. So you listen to the call, you write down all the things that sales person did wrong.
And then you call the sales person and they sit down and you’re in your big cube. And then you say, listen to this call with me and you, and then you go through your quality control sheet and then you tell them what they did wrong. And they tell you, Oh, that was just a call that I did two weeks ago. That was a one off.
I’m not doing that anymore. And they all looked at me and nodded their heads. And I said, I said, so, so you’re in your office listening to calls that have happened instead of being on the floor with people who are calling right now, that you could coach in the moment and make them better. And they said, well, if we go on the floor, they don’t make any mistakes. And I just sat there and looked at them for a minute. And I said, okay, I said, so you want your people do better. Yes. They all nodded their head and when you’re with them, they do better. And they went yes. And nod their head. So what’s the answer to making them do better. And it was so hard for them to compute that what they were just there.
It all got better. And that’s exactly what happened. We, the first thing we did is just move them out there and just sit on the floor and suddenly all the performance metrics went up easy. Then if you teach people how to coach and you teach them how to ask the right questions and you teach them the same instincts to know.
Like the patterns that are deal’s going to close or that, that you’re in the right place. It’s the same thing with a coach, the pattern, and know that this is what I need to focus on right now versus this. And that’s going to have the greatest impact, some of that stuff that you have to learn through experience and through coaching yourself.
But, but essentially. When we work with, especially with inside sales teams, when my trainers or my consultants go out and they’re working with them, the very first thing they do is run everybody out of an office, get on the floor. And it’s surprising how many companies that we, that we do business with and help where part of the engagement is just having one of my folks come in and get on the floor with the salespeople and the sales leaders and just like, get, get that habit back, you know, back.
On track again, because it is easy for people to drift, especially in a skill position. So, so, so to answer your question, I think that, and I’m from the South, that’s why this was a long answer. I don’t think it’s a, I don’t think it’s a zero sum train leaders are trained
Andy Paul: Oh, I don’t either, but.
Jeb Blount: I think it’s a, I think it’s a connect the dots.
And I also think that there’s a lot of really, really, really bad ad sales training out there and it bores people to death and it’s not practical it’s pie in the sky. And it’s training built by. I met an HR manager on a plane who was building the prospecting training for the sales team. And I asked her, have you ever made an outbound prospecting call?
And she goes, no, I would never do that. I’m like, okay, good luck. You know, so I think that, you know, so I think that some, you know, some of that issue is we just, it’s, it’s just such a big issue, although I’m, I’m happy that there’s a $20 billion market. Cause I like to have a little bit of, a little bit of piece of that.
Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, I think it’s, it’s, you know, we see all these signs when you see the data, is that. Certainly there are exceptions and, you know, you’ve got this integrated program. You, you teach that, that brings all the pieces together that forces the managers to be there and be present and coach, which doesn’t happen a lot.
Right. And it’s like, well, how do we, how do we change? Just the mindset around what the purpose of the training is, to help people improve. And because, you know, the number one reason is, you know, sellers leave a job is they’re not getting anything of value from their managers.
Jeb Blount: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And you know, in our, in our world, if, if the company won’t get the managers involved and won’t put them in the, in the training with us, we won’t do the training. So we have a, you know, our, our, our. Sample of the world is a little bit skewed because we’re very careful with the companies that we want to work with because we do this because we have a passion for it and we love it.
And we want, and we love salespeople. And like you said, we want them to improve. We want them to make more money and we want them to love their job. And that’s why we do this. So if we’re working with an organization that is unwilling to two, the things that are required for those things to happen, we’re not going to engage because we, first of all, we don’t want.
It’s our reputation muddied, and we’re not gonna, we’re not gonna make an impact. And if we’re not making an impact, life is just way too short to do stuff just for money.
Andy Paul: Right. Alright, well, Jeff, unfortunately run out of time and we’ve concluded our great bait and some bait and switch episode on negotiation forever. Everybody who joined in thinking they’re going to hear that. Now come back next time we have Jeb, I promise. Cause I’ve got a whole interview prepared on your book, which I, I enjoyed reading and, and we’ll have to get your back soon because it’s it’s yeah.
Jeb Blount: Well, we can just, just, just name the date and the date. I’m not traveling right now, so I can pretty much pick a day and I’m sure I can show up for you.
Andy Paul: do that. So great conversation anyway. So in case people aren’t familiar with you, how can they connect with you and find out more about what you do?
Jeb Blount: The the best way of getting in touch with me are to, to check me out is go to sales, gravy.com, or Jeb blunt.com. And my last name is spelled B L O U N T. Although it was pronounced blunt, you can catch me in those places. And of course, my podcast is on anywhere you get podcasts and I’m on Instagram, Twitter, you to LinkedIn.
I don’t know where else Facebook. So,
Andy Paul: I used to follow your travels on Instagram. So that
Jeb Blount: Yes.
Andy Paul: always entertaining. So. Alright, well, Jeb, great to talk to you and yeah, we will do this again very shortly.
Jeb Blount: Sounds good. Thanks, Andy.