EPISODE 675: Show Genuine Interest in Your Customers and the Results Will Be Huge Says Andy Miller

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Today’s show featured an interview with sales expert Andy Miller of Big Swift Kick.

Find Andy on LinkedIn.

ANDY’S TIP:  “It’s really about relationship. And you know, in sales you have to have whatever your service or product is, has to at least meet the minimal acceptable to get the job done. But relationship is everything in sales and RFPs and account management.  People will help you succeed if they know you like you and trust you. Liking you is not enough. Trusting you is not enough. But they need to know you like you, trust you, and they will help you. And some of the components of that is, to me, get curious, get fascinated by people, get to really know them. Stop viewing them as somebody to get you to a transaction or a deal or a close, just get to know them.”


Fred Diamond: All right. Thank you so much.

Welcome to the Sales Story and a Tip Podcast. My name is Fred Diamond. Of course, I’m cofounder of the Institute for Excellence in Sales, and I’m also the host of the Sales Game Changers podcast, we’re over 700 episodes. You can find that show at salesgamechangerspodcast.com. but this is the Sales Story and a Tip podcast.

I bring on sales leaders. I ask them to tell us a great sales story and then give us a tip. If you’re listening to this on Apple Podcasts, please go up, give us a five-star review. We would greatly appreciate it. And if you’re watching this on YouTube, please give us a thumbs up, give us a comment for today’s show, and consider subscribing to the YouTube channel.

I’m excited for today’s Sales Story and a Tip podcast. I have a guest who has been on the Sales Game Changers podcast a couple of times and who has also graced the stage at the Institute for Excellence in Sales. I’m talking about Andy Miller.

Andy, it’s great to see. I’m excited to hear your story. I’ve already heard a bunch of them because you’ve been on our stage many times, and again, you’ve been on the podcast, and you and I also have personally met to talk about sales. And you’ve been very instrumental, as you know, in forming the Institute for Excellence in Sales and helping us Institute for Excellence in Sales and helping us on our direction. Why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience, and then I’m interested for the story you’re going to bring us to day.

Andy Miller: Thanks, Fred. So it’s good to be here. My name is Andy Miller. I’m the CEO of Big Swift Kick. We are a sales consulting firm. We do business all over the world, and I am ready to share one of my favorite stories.

Fred Diamond: All right, Andy Miller, share a great sales story.

Andy Miller: Okay. So this was years ago. I moved to the Netherlands to start a software company. And I didn’t speak the culture. I didn’t know the people. I’d never been over in Europe, but I had an opportunity, and I seized the moment. And, of course, when you move somewhere, what do you do in sales? You start prospecting. So what I quickly discovered, not knowing, what I didn’t know is you can’t buy a list. Lists were not available.

Why were they not available? Because at that time, for whatever reason, which I don’t understand, selling a list was illegal. So, not your typical marketing approach. So what do we have to do, we had to advertise in magazines, you know, the IT magazine for each country. We had to find the trade shows, go to trade show, the IT trade show for each country, you know, fairly expensive, fairly slow to generate prospects, but that’s what we did.

Well, I soon found out that the manufacturer who had the computers that I was targeting had their European headquarters, also in the Netherlands. And I tracked down the product manager and I called him up and found out his name. And I said, hey, I would like to meet you for coffee or lunch. I would like to get your advice.

I don’t know the culture. I don’t speak the language, but I would love your insights. And that’s really all I’m looking for, some coaching because I want to know him. Am I fantasizing or not? So he agreed and he said, let’s go to lunch. I said, then lunch is on me because I’m asking your advice.

So that’s at least the thing I could do to give back. And so we met for lunch, and we spent most of the time just talking and getting to know each other. He was a guy from the UK who had moved over there, and we started having fun comparing notes.

What are you noticing between the UK culture and the Dutch culture or the US culture and the Dutch culture? And we had a big laugh on learning the language, because as everybody knows, you’re going to royally mess up.

And one of the laughs we had was I was calling a prospect by his proper name, but I was mispronouncing it, which was a profane word in Dutch. And the guy was gracious enough not to correct me, but the people around me who heard the call told me afterwards what I was calling him. And trust me, it was not, it was not. It was not a good word. So we had some laughs and we found a lot of commonality.

And then I said to him, here’s where I’d like some coaching or some of your advice or your opinion. Here’s what I have. Here’s what I’m doing. First of all, do you think the product is viable, at least in the Netherlands and in Europe?

And he said, yeah, I think it’s definitely viable. And I said, so I’ve been trying to find a list now, here’s the things I’ve been doing, marketing wise, trade shows, conferences, advertising and magazines, but I can’t find a list.

And he goes, you won’t be able to find a list.

I said, why not?

He said, because it’s illegal in Europe. Again, at that time, I don’t know what it is today. And I said, okay. So we talked a little bit more, had a good lunch. I drove home. Next day, I sent him a handwritten note of appreciation. Thank you for taking your time, and kept doing what I was doing.

And two weeks later, in the mail, large envelope, no return address, no name, postage stamp wasn’t clear. I couldn’t tell where it came from. Open it up. And it was a computer printout of every computer with every contact person, phone number, and address. Now, that could have only come from one place: The product manager.

And had the company known that he sent that to me, he probably could have lost his job. And so I thought, okay, you know what? We really connected. He wanted to see me succeed. He liked me, he trusted me, and he was going to find a way to help, even if it put him at risk.

So that was instrumental. We took that business from zero to $24 million in three years. And that one piece was instrumental in us driving that growth.

Fred Diamond: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. I remember one of my clients when I was consulting was a Microsoft partner, and they sold a chunk of software in the Microsoft server world. And it really would have helped if we had had a list like that. And it wasn’t illegal to get lists. I mean, United States, you get lists all the time. But, you know, someone who worked, may or may Someone who was working at Microsoft wanted to help us. And it wasn’t corporate policy to give their partners lists. And one day something showed up and it helped our company grow, or the company that I was working with at the time significantly grow.

Just curiously, how quickly, you mentioned within three years, you get to $24 million. But how quickly did you get to a place where things were really kicking in?

Andy Miller: It took us nine months to get to a million. So the rest of that kicked in over the next two years.

Fred Diamond: Okay, one other story about the Netherlands, a corporate company that worked for a large software company. They flew me to Europe to meet all of our product marketers across Europe. I was in product marketing for the software team, and our headquarters was in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. And I arranged all these meetings. And the guy who ran the Netherlands operation sent me an email. He said, by the way, it’s a holiday called Queen’s Day. I think it might be called Kings Day now. He said it was called Queen’s day. He said, everybody’s closed. He said, you’re not going to be successful because no one’s going to be working that day, and they’re not going to be working the next day, he said.

FYI for the future, you will probably want to plan your trip. And that’s one of those things with marketing in places like Europe. Even with, you know, some of the commonalities that have occurred over the last couple of years, there’s still unique things to each country.

Andy Miller: Yep, Queen’s birthday is a national holiday and it is called King’s birthday now because they have a king versus a queen. So they had to, had to change the name.

Fred Diamond: The other thing I learned on that particular trip, the only credit card I had was an American Express card, and a lot of places didn’t take American Express. I remember for two days, here I am, this American marketing person on a trip through Europe, and I had no access to cash because it was over the weekend and I finally was able to get some cash.

Anyway, tell us a great tip. Tell us a tip that you took away from that story.

Andy Miller: So the tip, and I think it’s really apropos for today, it’s really about relationship.

And you know, in sales you have to have whatever your service or product is, has to at least meet

the minimal acceptable to get the job done. But relationship is everything in sales and RFPs and account management.

People will help you succeed if they know you like you and trust you. Liking you is not enough. Trusting you is not enough. But they need to know you like you, trust you, and they will help you.

And some of the components of that is, to me, get curious, get fascinated by people, get to really know them. Stop viewing them as somebody to get you to a transaction or a deal or a close, just get to know them.

Find out something you have in common and the research is clear. Dr. Robert Cialdini, who people know on influence, his research shows when you get to know somebody and you have a commonality, if you’re negotiating, you have a 50% chance increase in getting what you want just by finding that commonality. Went to the same school, lived in the same town, member of the same club, they have an autistic kid, you have an autistic kid, but find that common bond. So you’re part of the same tribe.

Take five minutes, get on LinkedIn, do a Google search, but find that commonality. And then when you get on a call, don’t go straight into business. Take the time to get to know them. It’s huge.

If you don’t have that, you didn’t do the research or you can’t find anything, then a real estate friend of mine had a phrase that I loved.

I don’t know where he got it from, but it’s an acronym called Ford. F o r d, like the car. And he said, do a little bit of small talk.

And the F stands for family. Ask them about their family. O is occupation, R is recreation, and D are dreams. Now, do you have to ask them about all four? No, ask about something you’re curious about. I love hearing about kids, what they’re fascinated about, what they got into, what they’re into. I love hearing about people’s vacations. Where did they go? Because maybe they went someplace I’d love to go.

I have a client who I didn’t realize she’s Greek. I figured she grew up here. No, she grew up in Greece. And my wife and I were planning a trip to Greece, and, boy, that just opened up the floodgates.

So get curious, get to know people. Get to know and care about them as a person. Get fascinated. Stop viewing them as a transaction, and then express appreciation. If they help you, show some appreciation. Even if they didn’t help you, but they took time to talk to you, show some appreciation, and to me. That’s it.

If you want a quick primer, I wrote a book called “The Science of Closing the Sale by Winning Relationships.” Go to Amazon, order the book, and It’s an owner’s manual for prospects.

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