SPECIAL EPISODE 004: The Reason Why Marketing Automation Disrupter Zeev Wexler Says Sales Professionals Must Know Their Value
ZEEV’s CLOSING TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “What I want you to do is plan. Do not leave time for wasting time in the morning, in the afternoon, have a plan. Before you leave your desk today, have a plan of what you’re going to do tomorrow. Put the six top things you are going to do and put them right on top of your desk, the first thing you see when you walk in. That will eliminate all the guessing game and the coffee and the wasting of time, you will make more sales.“
Zeev Wexler is a digital industry leader, marketing automation disrupter, and CEO of a rapidly growing marketing firm – Wexler.
He is also the founder of Linkboost.
Zeev’s reputation as a trusted advisor for CEOs across many industries internationally has led to high demand as a speaker.
Find Zeev on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Tell us what you sell with Wexler and tell us what excites you about that?
Zeev Wexler: We sell a marketing arm, so we will make your marketing work. I love it because I get to work with so many different products, industries, experts and I get to give them what I know and what we do every day and together we tend to really find a winning formula for growing their business.
When we’re looking at a company that does a great product of service, that wants to grow, to us that’s the best challenge. We really want to help them, bolster them where they do not know what to do and listen to them where they’re the expert and together, we really make results. Being a marketing arm for these exciting businesses and amazing experts excites me every day to get up.
Fred Diamond: Who do you sell to? Do you sell to growing entrepreneurs, do you sell to CEO’s, do you sell to marketing directors?
Zeev Wexler: We really sell to the companies and it depends on the size of it whether it’s the CEO or the marketing director. The bigger the company, usually a marketing director or a VP. A smaller company up to 50 people we usually deal with the CEO himself and it really depends on how much they need and want from us.
Fred Diamond: I liked the way you described how you moved into marketing, you said you were a sales guy who moved into marketing to help sales, to help companies generate revenue. Tell us a little bit about how you first got into sales as a career.
Zeev Wexler: I always loved people, always loved talking to people and it felt like the best thing in life will always come to me from people, so why not choose a profession that puts me in front of people as much as I could? I don’t think there was anything better than sales. I sold my way from door to door, from the lowest kind of sales which taught me everything I know today – I call it sales 101 – to selling to governments and much bigger organizations.
What I understood very shortly was what you need in order to sell to a big organization, a small organization is very much the same thing just put in a different way. I also understood that when I was a salesperson 20 years ago, I had a control over the sale. If you wanted something, you needed me. You needed to come to me, I had product knowledge, you really needed me in order to get what you want.
Today you don’t, you can get all the information from yourself, you buy in spite of your salesperson so I wanted to be a part of figuring out what a person wants before he came to me because when the person came to me, I found it was too late a lot of times. Their mind was already set, they knew what they wanted and I was a challenge they needed to go through, and I did not want to be that challenge. I wanted to help them create the right decision and that was why I made the shift to marketing.
I wanted to be involved in the 80% of their mind to make their mind instead of just having that 10% left when they come to see me as the salesperson.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the things that you learned in some of those first few sales jobs that have continued to be a part of who you are today, running a very successful and growing marketing agency?
Zeev Wexler: People buy from who they like, and a lot of times from people that can really make them laugh. I do not like when a salesperson is a yes man. I believe people respect people who challenge them in an intelligent way and show them another way. If you can create someone who likes you as a person, you can make them laugh and also you’re confident enough to not agree with what they say but show them another point of view, I believe that’s the perfect relationship between salesperson that is a consultant and an expert to his client.
Fred Diamond: Tell us specifically what you’re an expert in, tell us a little more about your specific area of brilliance.
Zeev Wexler: Communications and sales is something that I’ve always had a talent in. I’m very good in giving messages to people and explaining things in ways that would make sense to them. All of us, all the salespeople that really have been beating the streets all these years, we’ve developed talents. We understand when someone is ready or not. We understand a lot of times – and please, correct me guys, if you think I’m wrong – but we know when people lie to us or give us an excuse that’s not real.
We’ve done this so many times that we instinctually know when someone is telling the truth or not, and I’m very good if someone is not being honest to make sure that they are. I’m very good at not being intimidated when someone is just putting obstacles in front of me. If there’s a way that I can help them, I will pursue it. If I can’t help them, that’s completely fine and they should go on their own way but if I know I can help a client really grow, I will pursue that even if he doesn’t agree with me at that point, and most of those relationships became lifelong relationships.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you tell us about an impactful sales career mentor and how they impacted your career?
Zeev Wexler: Very early on in my sales career, I had a financial securities company and I wanted to get into real estate. I wanted to invest in real estate, I wanted to understand real estate and I didn’t. I started making some calls and one of them was for my father and I told him I’m really looking for someone to bring me in to this real estate game, teach me. My father started making calls and found a friend of his from the university 35 years ago that was a broker of real estate in LA. I reached out to that person, told him who I was, that person took me in like his own son. He taught me everything that I know about real estate, I’m an avid real estate investor for myself, I don’t do it as a business anymore but that’s how I build my wealth and my pension.
This amazing gentleman took my under his wing, taught me everything that he knew, spent hours, gave me – I didn’t have anything, I was an immigrant without a lot of money, just starting out and he helped me build my sales career. He taught me, he brought me into meetings and I could not be more grateful for him. Today, we still are in touch. I just had an MNA deal, I called him right away and told him, “Hey, guess what?” I don’t take so much advice from him anymore but I have learned so much from him and I would not be where I am today if he did not take the time and invest in me.
Fred Diamond: What are the two biggest challenges you face today as a sales leader?
Zeev Wexler: Too many options. I feel today we are competing with everybody. Big, small, local, international, internet based, brick and mortar. There’s so much competition and there’s so much saturation so in a lot of ways that’s a big challenge. I can also see a positive in it, most companies don’t really know what they’re doing and most can’t really produce what they’re promising so you can really stand above the competition but when they come to you, almost everybody’s burnt from a bad marketing deal. Somebody promised me to be first on Google, somebody promised me this, somebody promised me that.
When my clients ask me, “What can you promise me?” I tell them, “If I do, turn around and run. I won’t promise you anything but learning and growing and putting together everything we know in order to grow your services and your company.” So the biggest challenge is just competition and also what I talked about before. If back in the day, the sales person had the product knowledge and they needed us, today they don’t. People can Google your product just as well as you can, they can look at all the benefits and all the little exciting things that that product has, so you don’t have those cards anymore.
You really need to understand what the value is that you’re bringing to the client and build a relationship.
Fred Diamond: Zeev, you’ve sold a lot of things in your career. Of course, right now you’re selling marketing services but you mentioned that you were in the real estate space for a little bit and you’ve probably been in a couple dozen other spaces of things that I don’t even know and I’ve known you for a couple years now, but take us back to the #1 specific sale success or win from your career that you’re most proud of. Take us back to that moment.
Zeev Wexler: I was in a bad place in my career, it was after 2007 and 2008 and I lost a lot of money in a financial business and an investment business. It wasn’t too much because I did any wrong 2007 kind of wiped us all out and I got to a point where I didn’t know where the next mortgage payment’s going to come, how I’m going to do things and a little bit after that, I don’t know if you guys remember but there was the influenza outbreak and I just saw an opportunity.
I found a place that manufactured these medicine and found a connection to a government in Europe and did a deal that funded me for the next 6 to 8 months and allowed me to find myself and allow myself to find my feet, find my hands, figure out what I was going to do without really being in need. That was my proudest moment, in a moment of weakness I look for creativity and I asked for some help from the people around me and closed a multi-million dollar deal between governments that funded me for a long time.
Fred Diamond: Did you ever question being in sales? Was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself, “It’s just too hard, it’s just not for me?”
Zeev Wexler: I think any salesperson that would tell you no to this is a bit not honest. Sales is a tough profession. Most of the day, we’re like a balloon that darts are thrown at, it’s not easy. The success would make it worth it, but there were many times in my young career I was going door to door and I was asking myself, “What the heck am I doing?”. I was an immigrant in a foreign company getting stuck on security elevators and I was asking myself, “Is this really… You’re too smart for this. You’re too good for this” so it did happen, I must admit.
It doesn’t happen anymore, I’m very happy, I’m excited to get up every morning. There are hard days, there are difficult clients, but my worst clients taught me the best lessons in life so I try to live my life looking for the silver lining anywhere. It’s a much easier way to live, I try my best to look for a silver lining even when it’s difficult.
Fred Diamond: What’s the most important thing you want to get across to junior selling professionals to help them improve their career?
Zeev Wexler: This is my biggest tip: Do not be a yes man. Understand your value, understand that you represent value. Do not be too apologetic, there’s a saying, “If something goes wrong, the first person that gets cancelled on the calendar is the salesperson.” Don’t be too understanding, don’t be too giving, show your value. Again, be nice, you need your clients and you need to be cordial. Again, we said that people buy from friends, but people buy from friends who have a value, who deliver value in their lives so understand where is the value that you’re bringing and be very proud of that.
Don’t sell yourself short, what you’re doing is needed, positive, sales moves everything. If it wasn’t for salespeople, none of us would have jobs. So be very proud, every morning understand that you’re moving an entire industry and just know that you are valuable and you’re not a yes man, you’re not there just to please the client, you’re there to create solutions and sometimes figure out what the problem is because at time the client does not know what the problem is even if they’re convinced they are so be smart enough not just to listen to your client, listen but then understand what is the real problem.
Those are my tips, don’t be a yes man, give value.
Fred Diamond: Zeev, you’ve mentioned the word value frequently throughout this podcast including in the last question. Help us understand what that means in your world. Again, you’re the president of a growing marketing agency, Wexler. You do a whole slew of marketing services for companies of all sizes. Tell us how you might bring more value to your customers in what you do today with Wexler, just to give us an example of what value means and looks like.
Zeev Wexler: I look at every client as a partner, and I’m not just saying that, I do. If there’s anybody that can do something better than I do, I’ll bring them to the table. If I can make an introduction that has nothing to do with anything that I will make or create, I will make their introduction. When I go into a company, I envision that I own that company. What would I do if I owned the Institute of Excellence in Sales? How would I act? And that’s the advice that I give to my clients and they value that very much. I don’t look at Wexler or my pockets, I don’t look at how can I up sell you more. I look at your ROI, I know for a fact that if I can help you grow, we will never part and if we do, you’re probably not the kind of person I want to work with anyways so bring extra value.
You’re knowledgeable, you bring something from home, you bring a network, you bring a personality. Be there for your clients, my clients ask me questions that are completely non marketing related. My clients ask me things because they value my opinion and more than that they know I’ll be honest with them. They know if I think it’s a bad idea – even if it will make me money – I will tell them, “Sir, no, I would not do that if I were you”. So that’s what I mean about value and really bringing yourself into the relationship.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the things that you do to sharpen your saw and stay fresh?
Zeev Wexler: Great question, I think that’s one of the most important things. First of all, I listen to great podcasts like yours. Second, I try to read 30 minutes a day. A confession: I do not like reading. A bigger confession: English is my third language, I do not like reading in English. It takes more time for me but I force myself for 30 minutes a day to read. I love listening to audio programs, audio books, I call it car university, you will never find me in my car without a book, a podcast, a series.
Back in the day, you needed to go to libraries and get CD’s, today with a smartphone you don’t need anything else. Audible or one of those apps that just continuously has good information and I love fiction, but I do not listen to it. Nonfiction, learning what’s out there in technology, in marketing, continuously grow because if not, you’re dying. Subscribe to leading newspapers of your industry. Subscribe to leading experts of your industry. Read some good blogs, understand who are the experts and see what they put out there.
That’s how we keep our saw sharpened and I really recommend to everybody to take the time and read and listen and see what’s out there. Content is being released in record speed these days and there’s so much to learn.
Fred Diamond: What’s a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Zeev Wexler: Great question.We’re doing a podcast where we’re going to mix sales and marketing and we’re very excited about it, I’m very excited to do it with Matt. He’s smart and the banter between us is really great. We’re going to bring two experts: one, humbly myself on marketing, the other, Matt on sales and we’re really going to talk about how to make sales and marketing a better unit.
Fred Diamond: Great. Speaking of sales, sales is hard. You alluded to it a couple of times, you had some calls that you were stuck on elevators and you’re knocking on doors and you’re wondering why are you having to go through some of this process. Even today, you mentioned there’s so much noise or so much options for the consumer so they don’t have to return your calls, they don’t have to return your emails, they can self-serve. Why have you continued? What is it about sales as a career that keeps you going?
Zeev Wexler: This is not mine, someone else said, I read it somewhere but sales is the worst easy job and the best hard job in the world. If you’re not doing anything, sales is not for you but if you sit in a cubicle, you do three times more than the guy next to you and you wonder why the heck you’re getting the same 50 thousand dollars, your place is in sales because sales is the only profession I know of that does not limit you. I can outwork everybody and it’s going to show on the bottom line, that’s the only reason why I’m still in sales – not the only. Another reason is every day is new. I used to make a lot of money and then I lost it all. It was a waking experience.
Today, being a salesperson I just closed 120 thousand dollar deal yesterday, it means nothing for today. I’m starting today from zero so it’s a negative but also a positive, it keeps you on the ground, you have to continue. I cannot walk into this office without creating business, I’m not going to stay in business. Every day is a battle of doing better for our clients, creating more business and teaching our team to be better.
Fred Diamond: Zeev, I want to thank you for all the great insights today. Why don’t you give us one final thought to the Sales Game Changers listening to today’s podcast around the globe?
Zeev Wexler: What I want you to do is plan. Do not leave time for wasting time in the morning, in the afternoon, have a plan. Before you leave your desk today, have a plan of what you’re going to do tomorrow. Put the six top things you are going to do and put them right on top of your desk, the first thing you see when you walk in. That will eliminate all the guessing game and the coffee and the wasting of time, you will make more sales.