One of the greatest things I’ve really grown to appreciate over the last few years has been reading. I used to hate it in most cases. For the longest time it felt like, “a chore” or “studying” and worst of all I had what I refer to as a typical Gen-X mentality of, “I already know it all.”
I have since changed my tune and have read a ton of great books over the last few years. Many I discover on my own, some are recommendations from peers, and some from rock stars like Duff McKagan of GNR fame.
As such here are a list of the books I read in 2018 and maybe you will find something of interest to you. Of course, please add your list in the comments as well as I am always looking for something new to read myself.
Yes, you will note that I am not reading as many “business books”. The reason for this is based on some of my own projects where I want to make sure my thoughts and ideas are authentically my own.
In no particular order:
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen – Ok, I lied, this one is my favorite. If you don’t know, I’m a huge Springsteen fan and have been for years. I highly recommend the audio version of this book as Bruce reads this one himself. He’s an amazing story teller. From his early days in NJ and living in a surfboard factory to how he made millions but never paid his taxes in the 70’s after his success of Born To Run because as he puts it, “nobody he knew in New Jersey ever paid taxes” to how he was able to make peace with his father, and how he himself has dealt with depression.
Grant by Ron Chernow – Fascinating book about Ulysses S. Grant our 18th President. As a kid I was always fascinated by US History, growing up in the south I certainly was very aware of the Civil War. This book paints an interesting portait of him as he grew up, went to West Point, hated slavery but married a woman from the south whose father disagreed with him. It shows his poor business skills, his lack of desire for the limelight, and the type of soldier he was. It absolutely shows how alcoholism one of his many weaknesses. It’s long but if you like the subject you may find it interesting.
It’s So Easy and Other Lies/ How to Be a Man by Duff “Rose – The King of Beers” McKagan – Outstanding books from the bass player of Guns-N-Roses which talks about everything you wanted to know, at least from his point of view about what it means to party like a rock star, be an alcoholic, falling down and getting back up again. Amazing insights into how he “earned his way into a solid college and got his degree.
As he said you have no idea what it means to “party like a rock star” until you are such an alcoholic that you drink so much, throw up, pass out, only to try to drink the alcohol back up. Or the moment when he was throwing a birthday party for his 13 year old daughter, (who badgered him, “you and mom are staying upstairs for the party, right?” Only to turn the corner at one point and find his daughter kissing a 13 year old boy. Great travel tips How to Be a Man as well.
The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx – Pure and utter debauchery during the year of making Girls, Girls, Girls. You will never want to do this drug or any others after reading this book.
A Poloroid Guy in a Snapchat World – David Spade – After all the rock-n-roll craziness I needed something “light” to mellow me out. Funny, quick read,
The Truth by Neil Strauss – From the world’s greatest “pick-up” artist and author of “The Game” as he throws his entire life into turmoil of trying to have his cake and eat it too as it relates to relationships, monogamy, polyamory, and true love. He tries it all from poly-relationships to sex addiction therapy where he ends up on the floor crying, to having to “remove” his relationship with his mother for a while he finds his true self. He holds nothing back, so not for the faint of heart.
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman – On recommendation from Duff McKagan – An outstanding long term story of the war in Afghanistan. Explaining not only the history of the country but our involvement or lack there of through out the US presidencies all the way back to Reagan. There is no easy answer for this part of the world and this book explains why.
The Brave Ones by Michale J. McCloud – A 40 year old reporter decides to enlist in the Army and becomes a paratrooper and writes about his experiences. From seeing the “boys” in his troops who could be his sons to explaining what its like to hold down double duty of being a reporter and a paratrooper.
Endurance by Scott Kelly – The story of the first American to spend a year in space on the international space station. Fascinating insights that explores the joy and loneliness of space. Not to mention he was a self-proclaimed “fuck-up” as a kid with no real college or job prospects until he stumbled upon the adventure of being an astronaut.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – A good book by all accounts but got a little dry and truthfully have not finished. If someone else can share their thoughts on this book please feel free to do so.
Shoe Dog – Phil Knight – Amazing story of Nike and how it all started in his garage. The battles he had to have with his bank who never wanted to loan him money even after he could prove he could pay it back over and over again. The politics and shenanigans of the early sneaker wars, and some amazing insights into how he mentally handled all of it.
Bad Blood – John Carreyrou – The story of one of the greatest rise and falls of the unicorns of Silicon Valley and the founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. Her goal of being able to run a litany of tests to help people from a simple pin prick on the finger instead of drawing from the arm is more than admirable. If it ever happens it will be amazing. However, that’s not what happened here. What could possibly go wrong with these folks on your board? Apparently, everything! Previous board included Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Senators Sam Nunn and Bill Frist, former Navy Admiral Gary Roughead, former Marine Corps General James Mattis, and former CEOs Dick Kovacevich of Wells Fargo and Riley Bechtel of Bechtel.
You Just Can’t Win by Jack Black – Another recommendation by Duff McKagan Not the Hollywood Jack Black. This is a fascinating story and period piece from the turn of the century 1800’s-1900’s. Where as a young man Jack chooses a life as a “bum and a hobo” hopping the trains from town to town and how he became a theif to support himself and his own drug habits. What it meant to be in thief before electricity, the amount of planning it took to break into someone’s home, how to slowly open the door for hours, literally, because the world was so quiet.
Just had a great pre-SKO meeting with the sales management team from a successful start-up. One of the topics that came up was holding sales reps accountable. Whether you manage SDR teams, Inside Sales Teams, Customer Success, or Field Sales Teams this is one of the most important topics in sales management.
Truthfully, it’s equally important in all aspects of business leadership. And ultimately if you want to be successful at anything in life, in any career, being accountable will be the most determining factor.
So we decided to discuss, “how to make sales reps more accountable”?
For me, as a Gen-Xer, one of the most insightful parts of this conversation was the fact this was a group of highly intelligent men and women millennials. So I was eager to hear their thoughts on the topic.
Reps have a great month, then a down month, then a great month.
They don’t work as hard as I did when I first started. I stayed late until I got my first ______ (appointment, sale, etc.)
How do we make them want to be more accountable?
Define Accountability in your onboarding program. Meaning at the end of onboarding we expect the reps to be accountable for ______ and _____. Then make sure that is covered in onboarding.
Ask the team leads(ers) to meet independent of managers and come up with 3 things they think it means to be accountable as an inside sales rep or sales development rep.
Ask the managers to meet independent of team leads and come up with 3 things they think it means to be accountable as an inside sales rep or sales development rep.
Compare #2 and #3. Somewhere in there will be your definition of accountable.
Fire someone good for cause. Yeah, this is always a bit controversial but nothing lights a fire under someone’s ass like watching someone leave. Now, this should be done in an appropriate manner of course. Here is where it gets very controversial. It cannot just be someone who is at the bottom of the list. In many cases you have to set an example with a veteran. Typically this is a high performer however they are the “lone wolf”. They operate outside the boundaries of the team and others. They think they can come and go as they please, and often do. What you will find is that others will rise to the occasion. The team will be happier and overall performance will increase.
How I define accountability. I cannot remember where I read this, but it has stuck with me ever since. Accountability is defined by making sure everyone knows their own job and that I finish my tasks in such a way that nobody else needs to come after me and clean up my mess. If you can build this into your culture and onboarding, I think it will set the right tone across the board.
So there you have it, a few simple tips to help you better manage accountability on your team. Would love to hear your experiences for building a culture of accountability. #YouControlYou
So tired of the “we should meet for coffee or a drink” requests from people who clearly have not looked at each of our profiles to recognize the obvious… the only reason you want to meet with me is to try and leverage my network.
Come on, stop wasting our time.
Truthfully I see very little value in meeting. My intent is not to come off rude but be directly honest instead of making up some lame “I’m too busy” excuse. If you claim to value transparency then you should most likely agree.
I wish you well but I just don’t see the value and feel you deserve an honest answer.
Seriously if we tried to meet with everyone no real work would get done.
Inside sales has come a long way in recent years. One of the fastest growing trends in inside sales is having a team of both inbound and outbound sales development reps (SDRs) handle things at the top of the funnel. The SDR’s primary responsibility is to make sure that anyone who talks to a sales rep is actually worth everyone’s time, both the potential buyer and the seller. In short: qualifying the person.
We acknowledge that the topic of what makes someone qualified and whether or not an SDR is qualifying a person or an opportunity is important. That is not, however, the purpose of this post. This post is designed to describe how the SDR conducts the handoff to an Account Executive (AE).
So let’s define the following: SDR establishes communications with someone who wants to speak to an AE, or sales rep. The AE may be in the same physical location as the SDR or be a remote field sales rep. Often times, we see the SDR merely send out a calendar invite to the sales rep and prospect that includes dialing instructions. Then the SDR moves to the next prospect. Here is what usually happens: The prospect and sales rep make the call and all is well or the prospect misses the call and tells nobody.
Here are two options for making sure to promote success, teamwork, and accountability for all parties. I believe there are two main handoffs: the Email Handoff and the Meeting Handoff.
Option 1 – The Email Handoff
In the email handoff, the SDR typically sets a calendar appointment with the AE and prospect; however, this is not the first thing the SDR should do. Here is what s/he should do after the call with the prospect ends.
Put together an email that provides the following:
Thank the prospect(s) for their time.
Confirm date and time of appointment and that a calendar invite is coming shortly.
Ask the prospect to review the notes below and correct anything that may have been misunderstood.
Provide introduction to AE (who is copied and include a direct #).
Indicate who will now be main point of contact for the prospect (SDR or AE). Will vary based on your organization.
Provide a list of next steps, prospect’s challenges/pains, potential solutions, resources, and other interesting notes from the call.
Thank the prospect(s) again for their time.
Send calendar invite with everyone’s email addresses and direct line numbers just in case there is an issue with the conference line.
Option 2 – The Meeting Handoff
In the meeting handoff the SDR does the exact same steps as the email handoff with a very important distinction. The SDR attends the first meeting with the sales AE. See #4 below. After the call with prospect ends, the SDR should:
Put together an email that provides the following:
A ‘thank you’ for the prospect’s time.
Confirmation of date and time of appointment and that a calendar invite is coming shortly.
Asks the prospect to review the notes below and correct anything that may have been misunderstood.
An introduction to AE (who is copied and include a direct #).
Indication that they (the SDR) will still be main point of contact.
A list of next steps, prospect’s challenges/pains, potential solutions, resources, and other interesting notes from the call.
Thanks the prospect(s) again for their time.
Send calendar invite with everyone’s email addresses and direct line numbers just in case there is an issue with the conference line.
Handle the front end of the call including:
Once this has been agreed to, the SDR should politely confirm the AE is ready to take over, and sit back and listen. It is my opinion that the Meeting Handoff should be the standard. Everyone running an inside sales team says the SDR team is their “bench” for sales and that they provide a career path into closing roles. However, when push comes to shove there is not enough real world sales experience happening to help that SDR really understand the closing aspects of an inside sales role.
Additionally, the benefits of the Meeting Handoff include:
Building trust and rapport with the prospect through a professional buying experience
Greater teamwork between the SDR and AE on accounts and territory planning
Allowing AE and SDR to be accountable to each other with no ability to point fingers
Allowing AE and SDR to learn from each other – often times an SDR will hear something different but equally valuable to the sales cycle
Watch out for the following:
AE starts treating SDR like a secretary
AE tells the SDR the SDR has to put all notes in the CRM (this is a no-no, this is the sales rep’s job)
AE complains they don’t like the SDR on their calls (this is a management issue)
One of the best parts of inside sales is the greater ability to understand and know which parts of the sales cycle you can control. Some parts will always be harder than others. Other parts of the sales cycle, like the handoff, will be simple to understand, modify, and improve.
A lot of people may and probably will disagree with me, which is fine, I think it’s a healthy debate.
It used to be, and in some circles still is, that the sales reps are known for having “the gift for gab”, being a “conversational Cyrano de Bergerac”, or a “connoisseur of conversation”, whatever.
But ultimately that “art” is 100% rooted in science. That science is called psychology or psychiatry.
How people make decisions is not an art, it’s a psychology that has been talked about for decades. Understanding the science of human behavior and decision making is what’s behind this artificial art form people call sales.
Whether we are inside sales reps, field reps or customer success reps, one thing I have noticed consistently, we tend to be behind the curve a bit.
Marketing has always been ahead of us when it comes to research and data (the science of sales) to drive customers’ behaviors. Fortunately, over the last few years sales teams and sales operations, and some very smart sales entrepreneurs teams have helped us crack the science of sales code with the sales stack.
We are just now beginning to better track and measure the “science” of what makes someone respond via email, phone call, text message, swiping left or right, etc…
Remember, the essence of sales is not to convince someone to buy your product or service, its to help them realize their life will be easier, better, etc. by utilizing your product or service, and that my friends, is psychology.
Share your thoughts below. Is sales a science or an art?
One cannot coach the concept of accountability without first speaking to awareness.
Awareness of yourself as an individual first. Understanding you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, you are not your emotions. You are just you.
Only then can you speak as a leader to help others become self-aware. Helping them to understand they are not their thoughts, they are not their feelings or emotions. They are just themselves.
Once you can understand the concept of awareness, you don’t even have to agree with this definition, just understand we must be aware.
Then you can start to teach accountability. At best you can encourage people to be more accountable based on their own awareness. You cannot force awareness or accountability, you can only encourage it. It’s up to each individual to decide how to interpret this.
Whether you are a #millennial that grew up with loving parents encouraging every moment or a #GenXer like me who grew up as a latch-key kid and a part of the “slacker” generation, it doesn’t really matter.
There is — and always will be — a certain level of selfishness that is required to be successful and happy. But there is another part too. It’s the selfless part of you.
What I have recently learned through reading a few books and engaging in mediation is so easy to understand, yet it seems to escape many of us due to the “hustling” and “side-gigging” we are focusing on.
Specifically, it’s not about all my use cases, what I am knowledgeable about. It’s about my usefulness.
Am I useful in life?
Am I useful to my family?
Am I useful to my friends?
Am I useful to my work, organization, upper management, peers or direct reports?
I am not suggesting being submissive. I am suggesting making sure that I provide value to myself, and most importantly, to others. For me, this has become the essence of a Work / Life Balance. Engaging and encouraging myself to be better, act better, and provide support. This is what makes me a special-fucking-snowflake.
I work with a lot of sales teams, especially inside sales teams, and very often people early in their sales careers.
One of the most common questions I get is how do I approach someone on LinkedIn who I know would be a great fit for our service? So here is what I tell everyone. And by all means if you have data to support something different please share in the comments below, I’d love to learn from others as I am sure others would love to hear your approach as well.
It’s not a best practice to request a meeting in an invite request.
It’s not a best practice to request a meeting in a first InMail.
If someone is a total stranger, your best bet is to request an intro from someone who is connected with them on LinkedIn.
Now here’s what we all know. We have tons of LinkedIn connections, in many cases we don’t know them all. However, we have connected with people in the hopes of networking and sharing when appropriate. That is the frame of reference we are talking about when you try this approach.
In short, this is how you leverage the “you never know” mentality and ask for help without you or the person you are asking having to feel slimy or cheesy. It respects the person I am contacting, it’s direct, it’s honest, and allows them total control of the process.
While my data set is small, 100 attempts, 55% of the people I’ve contacted have taken a meeting. 95% of all people actually responded even if they don’t want to have a meeting.
Whether I am an inside sales rep, outside sales rep, SDR, or seasoned sales veteran, this is the message I would be asking my senior leadership team or someone I do know who is connected to my desired contact and sent on my behalf via LinkedIn.
Rep to Richard —-
Hey Richard, hope all is well, I see you are connected to _____ on LinkedIn. I was wondering if you’d be open to sending the following message to them on my behalf. It’s ok if you don’t know them because this message addresses that in a way that I think is respectful of you and them.
Sales Rep Sara
Subject Line: Request for intro
We connected on LinkedIn for sharing information and mutual networking. This could be one of those moments, but I will let you decide. I currently work with _________ at ______ and they are helping organizations solve the following problems.
They have asked me to see if you’d be interested in a conversation. If so let me know and I will gladly facilitate. If not, that’s ok, I can politely tell them you are not interested.
There is no commission or payout for me on this, it’s just me putting some good karma out in the world.
Let me know how you’d like to proceed.
PS – If I can ever do this type of messaging for you and your team to a contact let me know, I am happy to do so on your behalf.
There you have it. Simple, honest, sincere, respectful, and most importantly not slimy.
One final tip. If you are going to send a request to someone like me or an exec in your office please write the email so its merely a copy/paste. Folks are always happy to help but making it easier for them to help you, is always a nice touch.
Curious how others handle the “cold-outreach” via #LinkedIn?
#SalesTips, #SalesTraining, #ColdCalling #InsideSales
Feel free to share your comments below on your successes with this or other techniques.
Sports analogies are to sales as urinal troughs are to baseball. They go hand in hand, glove on hand because a baseball game is straightforward. A basketball game is simple. Team A competes against team B. Whoever scores the most points wins.
Is it a sales playbook or a cookbook?
We compare inside sales to sports because we want sales to be as straightforward as a sports game, with a defined “winner and loser.” It’s easier for us to think of selling as a game, and selling strategies as plays in a playbook. But inside sales isn’t a sport, and treating it as such won’t get you very far in today’s sales climate, because with that mindset, it means if you win, the other person loses and that is why your buyer hates dealing with you.
Now don’t get us wrong, we believe there is a winning element to sales. And no, not a win-win, everyone gets a trophy scenario. This winning is about succeeding in your mission. Sales is not about outplaying your prospect, it’s about making sure your prospect understands the real value your product or service brings to their daily work and personal life.”
“Sales is not about outplaying your prospect, it’s about making sure your prospect understands the real value your product or service brings to their daily work AND personal life.”
Rather than a straightforward A to B structure, selling is a complex brew of variables. And it’s only getting brothier. If you’ve been paying attention to the industry, you’ve probably noticed that sales cycles are getting longer. More stakeholders are involved in a consensus buying process. There’s more competition, a bigger concern for ROI, and almost an expectation for customization. What was easy is nowcomplicated. And when things get complicated, salespeople need to get creative. They need to learn how to improvise. From our perspective, plays from a sales playbook don’t allow for enough improvisation.
But cookbooks do.
Most recipes in a cookbook serve as a jumping off point. When followed to a T, these recipes (usually) produce good food. But the more familiar you are with the recipes, the better you become at playing with the ingredients to adjust the outcome. That’s what good cooks do. That’s what chefs do. They start with a basic recipe, then extrapolate, revise and modify. Experiment. That’s when stuff gets tasty!
Good inside salespeople are like chefs. They know that no matter how many sales tactics and sales strategies they memorize, there will always be a selling situation that just doesn’t fit, and they’re going to need the flexibility to experiment with different spices and flavors.
So what are these ingredients? What the absolute heck am I really talking about? Let’s get specific. As a salesperson, your ingredients are your information–information about the prospect and their industry. Information about competitors and industry trends. And let’s not forget your secret sauce, the real value your solution brings to the table, the Why and How factor, not the What factor. Ingredients equal the information necessary to do your job at peak effectiveness.
And where do those ingredients come from? The sales enablement process–The official 2017 Sales Buzz Word of The Year! Sales Enablement is the process of gathering, organizing, and delivering salespeople the most pertinent information, data, and tools to help them sell at peak effectiveness.If done well, sales enablement supplies you with enough relevant ingredients to cook something amazing in multiple ways.
And if ingredients are information, then recipe directions are our sales strategies. Combine them and you should be able to adjust to, and overcome, any sales situation you encounter.
Sales Secret Sauce – Calm Confidence
Let’s put this idea into practice. First, a cooking scenario:
You’re making your favorite pasta dish for a dinner party. Among other ingredients, the original recipe calls for cheese and cream. You’ve already started cooking when you remember that some of your guests are vegan. People are arriving. Everyone’s hungry. But you’re good at this. You know enough recipes, and enough about food to tinker with it in the moment. Suddenly cream becomes pureed tofu. Parmesan becomes a blend of cashews, salt, and garlic powder. Problem. Solution. Happiness.
Now let’s look at the sales version of that scenario.
You’ve got a second meeting set up with your prospect. You were told it’s going to be you and your two prospects, a VP of Sales and a Director of Sales, both of whom were on the first call. You get to the office, they show you to the conference room, and suddenly three people walk in. In addition to your two prospects, they have brought the CRO. What do you do?
Because you’ve gone through solid sales enablement training, you know your ingredients well, so you take this in stride, already prepared. Having done your homework, you know your prospects pains based on their titles. More importantly, you’ve also done your research on the CRO, and know her unique pains well enough to be able to address them. You’re calm, confident, and to your surprise, excited, because you now have a major decision maker in the room. All you need to do is adjust your ingredients. It might be a good idea to sprinkle some topics that directly relate to the CRO’s pain perspectives, onto the agenda. Based on her role, perhaps you can modify a few discovery questions to confirm her pains.
See, compared to a sales cookbook, a sales playbook just isn’t as adaptable to such a situation. A playbook tends to offer very specific, guided instructions focused a specific process. Got an SLA between SDRs and AE’s? There’s a play for that. Trying to sell to folks in New York City and Birmingham, Alabama? That’s more a cookbook’s territory.
Here’s another way to think about it: Want to know why The Rock is the definitive people’s champion? Because he didn’t just stick to the book, he improvised. He played to the crowd. He was dynamic. You could even say he …. cooks. And it smells delicious.
My wife thinks I’m crazy for saying this, but I love the sales job interview process. And no, I don’t mean interviewing candidates, I mean interviewing as a candidate. I love it so much that a close friend, Scott Leese, SVP of Sales at Qualia Labs, and I often joke about how if we could make money just by landing job interviews, we would do it full time.
Landing, and of course, nailing job interviews is an invaluable life skill, and if you’ve ever had to wade through the job market, you probably know that your single greatest point of leverage is securing multiple job offers simultaneously. This puts pressure on employers to take you more seriously and make hiring decisions more swiftly. Therefore, the purpose of this post is not only to help score a job, but to help you score more job offers.
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’m all about harsh truths. My experience in the sales industry has taught me that when someone or something is underperforming, excuses get tossed around like confetti in a hurricane. Sales trainers blame inside sales teams, inside sales teams blame sales trainers for poor sales training and negotiation training, sales execs blame sales trainers who blame inside sales teams who blame sales execs. And of course, everyone tries to blame marketing. And on and on and on.
Movies are often wildly unrealistic, but there is one cinematic gaff that sticks in my craw more than all the others combined. Two people meet cute, perhaps at a bar, or an ice rink, or whatever the kids are doing these days. And they talk. They flirt. They laugh. And then one of them asks the other out.
It’s that time of year. That time when everything you’ve been planning for either happens or it doesn’t. And on top of that, it’s time to start planning for next year, which for many businesses means planning a sales kickoff event (SKO).
I will be presenting my own session on November 15th, 2016 at the Crush Q4 Sales Event. I’ll share my tips for closing more revenue in Q4 with NEAT SellingTM. In this session you will walk away with specific strategies for navigating the sale as well as tactical strategize to implement immediately in every sales conversation you have in the future.
Over the last few years, we’ve talked sales with more people than I can count, and while our conversations run the gamut of sales topics, a select few never fail to make an appearance: BANT, ANUM, and AN.
For the uninitiated,
BANT is a sales qualification process based on a prospect’s Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe.
ANUM is a sales qualification process based on a prospect’s Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money.
AN, which was inspired by ANUM, focuses on the top of the sales funnel, where Authority and Need are discussed first.