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Key lessons from your first few sales jobs: 09:03
Name an impactful sales mentor: 16:34
Two biggest challenges you face today as a sales leader: 18:48
Most important tip: 32:04
How do you sharpen your saw and stay fresh: 39:21
Inspiring thought: 42:12
EPISODE 095: Find Out the Sales Lessons Entrepreneur Jere Simpson Learned that Helped Him Become a Self-Made Millionaire in His 20’s
JERE’S CLOSING TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Be 100% human, genuine and honest with everybody that you’re talking to because people connect with humans. You might be honest with someone in a way that blows the sale in the moment, but you’ll be amazed how often they’ll come back to you when the competitors that lied to them didn’t work out for them. That happens a lot.”
Jere Simpson became a self-made millionaire in his 20’s after starting his first company at 18.
He’s the founder and CEO of Kitewire Mobility, one of America’s fastest growing companies 3 years in a row according to the Inc. 500.
Jere’s been featured in countless national media outlets including CNBC, ABC Fox and the Associated Press and is a former adviser to the executive Office of the President, the FBI, the Navy Seals and the Pentagon.
He was also named one of the best entrepreneurs in the country by Entrepreneur Magazine.
Find Jere on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: We were introduced to you by our Sales Game Changer episode #4, that was Will Fuentes at Maestro. He said, “You need to talk to Jere, Jere has a unique perspective as an entrepreneur on the value of the sales process.” Again, as you know, in the Sales Game Changers podcast we typically talk to sales leaders about their careers and get some tips for how people listening in can take their sales career to the next level so I’m very excited with your background and getting deep into how entrepreneurs need to be conscious of the sales process and how they can take their business to the next level by understanding that. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you sell today and tell us what excites you about that?
Jere Simpson: Sure. We sell Kitewire Mobility which is a mobile device management security and compliance software, it’s software as a service. We’ve been deep into the national security and intelligence community for 6 years now. For those that don’t know what the intelligence community is, the FBI, CIA, NSA. Our concept was to ease the sale cycle, we needed to prove that we could do cyber security for the people that have the strictest requirements like the FBI knowing that if we could go to Bank of America, Caterpillar or any small business and say, “This is secure enough for the FBI 6 years in a row, that it should be good enough for you”, that they can rely on that diligence.
It’s the old nobody gets fired for buying IBM in this realm, nobody gets fired for buying the security that national security agencies use.
What I get excited about as far as it comes to that is everybody else in this space – we call them the “no” people – they say, “it’s not secure to plug in your phone into an Uber’s charger and we won’t let it happen and you shouldn’t connect to a Wi Fi that’s unknown, we’ll stop it from happening.” We see that all of our customers are giving out these phones paying a pretty penny to their employees that have them or putting the bill because they’re enabling tools and the idea that you would then slap something on top of it that makes it not enabling it turns into a tin can and a string versus a real enabling tool.
We take the mindset of finding the yes, we will allow you to plug in your phone into an Uber and know if that Uber is sucking the data off of your phone or know if the Wi Fi is not secure so that you can get that data whenever you need, you can get that power whenever you need, you can connect to the Bluetooth of your rental car so that you can go and be at that speed and we take real pride in being the yes guys in the mobile space.
Fred Diamond: We talked about how this is your fourth business, Kitewire Mobility. We also talked about how you as an entrepreneur understand how critical sales can be. First of all, do you consider yourself to be a sales guy?
Jere Simpson: I do. I think every CEO, every executive in some way, even our CTO who probably begrudgingly is part of the sale cycle is, because a lot of times their CTO, their CIO, their SISO wants to talk to ours especially if they’re a big company like I mentioned a Caterpillar or one of these Fortune 50 companies, Johnson and Johnson because they want to talk the same talk and I don’t see any way that the CEO isn’t part of sales in their culture but also sets the tone downwards for their sales force.
Fred Diamond: At this point usually I ask how did you first get into sales a career but I’m going to ask it slightly different: How did you first get conscious of that? Again, we mentioned in the introduction that you’ve been an entrepreneur since you’ve been 18 years old, this is your fourth company, you’ve had some great success as recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a very successful entrepreneur. How did you first get conscious of the fact that you’re in sales and sales as such a critical part of the business?
Jere Simpson: Actually, I’m going to answer the question you normally ask because it is relevant. I started my very first job, I worked at a sunglass kiosk in Springfield Mall, in Springfield, Virginia like a competitor to a Sunglass Hut and I loved it. You would think this isn’t a job that people love. The only month that I wasn’t the top sales person there was the first month I was there and I became very competitive about it, really loved honing the craft of sales. To me, I loved that we were beating the Sunglass Hut that was in that mall and getting to dialogue and form relationships and test and tweak what worked and what didn’t and what people respond to and what they don’t and it really gave me just a feel – I didn’t care about sunglasses that much but I grew a deep knowledge about how they were all made which once really had something to them and which ones didn’t and so much so that my mother thought I was selling drugs because I was bringing home such big paycheck in high school!
I had to show her my W2’s o convince her it was legitimate earnings.
That being said, to answer your second question, in the businesses that I’ve created I’ve just met so many companies that were excellent at product creation and died a miserable, tragic death because they couldn’t get sales accomplished in any way. Sometimes it’s more complicated, as you know. It’s, “Well, they can sell, they just can’t sell at a reasonable cost” but I’ve seen so many that just didn’t even put together something to refine. To me, it’s a critical half of every business, product and sales. There’s a lot of other components that matter but those are the two absolute vital components.
Fred Diamond: Yeah, a lot of times when you hear about some of the great entrepreneurial stories in tech and other businesses, there was the tech visionary and then there was also the sales guy. The guy who understood why corporate America would be using the technology and how to grow. I want to go back to your sunglasses example, it’s a great example. We’ve all been in malls, we’ve all passed by those kiosks. What are some of the things that you learned from selling those sunglasses to people who didn’t want to be stopped in the malls that have led you throughout your career?
Jere Simpson: Actually I heard one of your other podcast members say something similar so I appreciated that they had an interesting experience or the same experience. I found that if I could build trust, I could build connection and I could then accelerate the sale, ensure the sale, get a repeat customer and more importantly get what we call raving fans, somebody that would preach about their experience with us. We’d have somebody that would come in, they’re trying on Versace sunglasses and initially I’d just started saying, “Oh, those are neat but they’re really $500 for a $10 pair of sunglasses with a brand name on it. Why don’t you look at these Maui Jims?” and I’d get deep into the technology of how they were built, how the lenses are made, how the ear pieces are made to absorb your sweat, how the fitting’s on the nose and they’re still very expensive, they’re $250 sunglasses but they’re much better.
I learned that some people just want a brand, so then I got better at asking, “OK, what is your objective? Let’s just brass tacks you and me, what are we talking about? Are you wanting to show status?” And I learned how to finesse that question more and more because a lot of people that are wanting to show status don’t want to say it like that. I get to their objective, what is it really, and many people I’d find they’re just looking for the best pair of sunglasses and I’d sell them down.
But I would say, I probably increased the chance of the sale threefold because it was going to be something they were going to have to think about quite a bit at a $500 pair of sunglasses. $250 was something they could just do, sometimes I’d sell them down to an $89 pair. There’s a company called Arnette, they have amazing warrant, you can stomp on the sunglasses in front of them and they’ll replace them for you. If I could get at what they really needed and have an honest connection with them then I could ensure the sale, get a repeat customer – they’d bring their wife back in, their kids need some sunglasses, then they’d trust me and we could have a good, long relationship.
Fred Diamond: I’m just curious, how did you feel when you sold a pair of sunglasses back at age 18?
Jere Simpson: It’s like making a basket or scoring a touch-down. I’d do a little celebration right after they’d walk away. It’s just a great victory, you’re keeping a score in the system. To me, I thought it was fantastic that I could always see where I was at compared to the other salespeople because I just wanted to be the top person. I would listen to the people that were top or beating me at any given month and try to pick up from them what were they doing differently than I was so that I could add on a combination of their good and my good together.
I’ll tell you a little bit of a funny story: my boss found that we had promotional T-shirts that you could give away with it so if you bought a pair of Oakley’s, you could give an Oakley T-shirt away and he saw that with almost every pair I actually used that on many of the pairs and thought, “The rest of our sales people aren’t utilizing that as a tool enough”. One day he was working with me and I saw he watched exactly how that works and mind you, I’m an 18 year old boy, I’m in the best shape of my life and I said, “I’ll throw in a T-shirt if you purchase the sunglasses” and she says, “The one you’re wearing?” and I said, “Sure, the one I’m wearing.” And he realized that really there was a lesion of women that were having me just take my shirt off and give it to them and replace it with the other one which is a bit of a hack, and I have a lot of feelings about hacks, too. Sales hacks.
Fred Diamond: Tell us a little more about your specific area of brilliance.
Jere Simpson: I think on one hand I’m a technologist. I love technology, I know a lot about it. The thing that’s allowed me to be successful is I’m very good at hearing what our future customers are actually saying. Finding the common ground to accelerate the cycle which increases conversion and a lot of times customers will tell you they need what they’ve already prescribed as the solution either kind of jumping ahead so with our mobile product, our customers are telling me that they need end to end encryption, that they need containerization, that they need to be able to track what their employees are doing.
It’s a lot of different ways to say we care about our intellectual property, we care about our proprietary information and they’re already just prescribing the solution and asking me do I have that and so I can hear what their real concern is. We try to train our sales people to listen for that, really what they’re focused on, boils down to intellectual property protection and how can we mitigate that risk for them while enabling their work force. I think that’s the thing that’s really made a difference for me, is listening very closely and then trying to capture what’s at the heart of their desire.
Fred Diamond: That’s interesting because one of the key themes that we continue to hear on the Sales Game Changers podcast when we ask sales leaders for some of their advice for the Sales Game Changers listening on the podcast, not infrequently the concept of listening comes up and the whole notion that you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that order. It comes up all the time and one of the things that we’re constantly trying to find some solutions on is how do you become more of an active listener? How do you really prepare yourself? Because we always have this urge to talk, to tell about our features, tell about our benefits, especially when you’re relatively new in sales and you have a quota to achieve, you know you have a short amount of time but the reality is at the end of the day to be even more successful. You have to understand what’s in it for the customer, where are they coming from, what are they hoping to achieve so that’s a great answer.
Jere Simpson: I have not heard that – two ears, one mouth. That’s great, I’m going to reuse that. We always try to get our sales people to paraphrase, to ask an open ended question and then paraphrase just to get them in the practice of you’re going to have to paraphrase what they said and get them to confirm did you hear them right to try to grow that connection.
Otherwise, I fear and not have often witnessed that they won’t listen, they’re already thinking about the next thing in their script, what they’re going to say and it’s abrasive when the customer senses, “Why did you just ask me a question? You didn’t listen, you jumped right to the next thing, I feel like you’re racing me through a script.” They can just sense it.
Fred Diamond: That’s very powerful. As a matter of fact, we did an episode – Special episode #5 – where we spoke with Ramzy Ayachi, he’s with a company called Peak Performance Associates. He’s an expert on NLP, neurolinguistics programming, and we’ll have a link to that episode for people who want to figure out how to get more effective with their active listening. Jere, who was an impactful sales career mentor to you and how did they impact your career?
Jere Simpson: You mentioned earlier that Will Fuentes from Maestro Group introduced me to you, he’s been really impactful for me. He’s a great person for me to brainstorm some of my zany ideas against, I’ll come up with this insane idea and he’ll give me a look which is, “I don’t know about that one but go ahead, doesn’t sound expensive to try out.” Or a lot of times give me that confirmation that I need, “That sounds like a fantastic idea, I think it’s brilliant, you should push hard on that.” In our organization, we have people that are traditional trained career salespeople and unlike I said, our executives and many other people in the organization end up being part of the sale cycle and he’s able to install traditional techniques into those people which I think is a gift so it’s been really valuable to me to learn how he does that, to start with changing their mindset.
There’s a lot of people who feel negatively about salespeople. In my company culture we do a lot of work getting people to understand just how much we need them and how much they should be celebrated and that they need a big high-5 when you come through the door if they made a big sale because they allow you to keep doing what you want to do and keep making what you want to make if you’re on the product creation side. If you have to do some sales and you’re on the product creation side, we have to change your mind set a little bit as to what a salesperson is. People get stuck in this and I admire used car salesmen just the same but they get that, “Oh, I don’t want to be a used car salesman. I’m not a salesman.” and we have to explain all the glory that there is for the sales department in our company. I appreciate his leadership on that.
Fred Diamond: What are two of the biggest challenges you face today as a sales leader?
Jere Simpson: Selling complicated, complex products that take a deep knowledge and the conversation can go down many paths means that you can’t outsource sales. I have businesses where we do, at least in certain points in the cycle and it’s great, it means the product can’t sit on a shelf and just be bought through the internet using a virtual shelf, it takes a different type of salesperson to be able to go through complicated products to handle the one offs.
They’re sparring sometimes with CIO’s who feel like their value to their company is to tell them why it’s a no and why this is an irresponsible decision and that in some ways requires them to be at that CIO level of knowledge enough to handle the spar, that’s expensive. So as a business owner it’s complicated to find salespeople who are qualified to talk about it at that level, at least can find a process where they can bounce it off if they need to somebody else, have the resources that they need and systems in place to make it a profitable model that works. You can’t just put in someone who does sunglasses into those jobs.
We have a product called Net Pure which primarily we initially tried to just sell it on the shelf, it’s a complicated product. It’s not overly-complicated but it takes 5 minutes of dialogue with a human being and that’s a change to how much profitability is there, how much are we giving away, how much time, it’s just a lot of complicated mechanisms there that create challenge.
Fred Diamond: Take us back to the #1 specific sale success or win from your career that you’re most proud of.
Jere Simpson: I guess it was 2011, we had just created Kitewire Mobility and there were Blackberries out there in the work force and our product creation was the leaving people we’re leaving Blackberry party but they couldn’t leave. Many of these organizations couldn’t leave Blackberry if they didn’t have the security and management that they needed. Blackberry did this very well for their devices. We didn’t – and don’t – try to compete with them on their handsets because they just handle it so well but people that were wanting to go to the Android or IOS platform needed the same controls that they had and the security that they had.
So you had a bunch of companies jumping into the space, most notably you had all of your very traditional heavy weights of cyber security, your Norton, your Symantec, your McAfee, people with great reputation. We felt like we had value because all of their ideas were built around Windows technologies and this is a very different complex environment. We had a unique moment of opportunity because we felt like they would lean on their reputation which is a great thing to lean on in the sales cycle of this space but not as much on the technology. We felt we had the technology but we didn’t have the reputation and frankly, it’s very difficult to go and compete the person making the decision maker is mostly looking at, “Are they going to make a decision that a they’re going to get fired for if there’s a bread?”
It’s not even about is there going to be a breach or not but if there is a breach and they say they hired IBM using them as a metaphor, the old metaphor, they’re not going to get fired for it because they did the responsible thing. They showed a standard of care so we had to overcome that hurdle and as I mentioned before, we were trying to take down a flag ship customer with the FBI and the Department of Justice, the US Marshals in order to then have a big jump, a leap on reputation to say, “OK, we’re not Symantec, we’re not these companies with tremendous reputation in this field but we have customers that do incredible diligence that have more might to validate us than any other organization.”
A lot of it was just charging up our team to convince them that we could do it and when you win as a David VS Goliath, when you win it’s a huge moment, there’s a ton of celebration, it’s a great customer – as we always say, a flag ship customer which is one you hang your flag on that you bring up to all of your other future sales and I just felt immensely proud. I was proud of the product people, I knew we had a good product but getting through that sale when we know what the mindset of the decision maker took a lot of thought and planning and I was really very proud. We would not have made it, the product would have died the first year without getting through that sale.
Fred Diamond: A lot of your entrepreneurial companies, a lot of the sales are heroic in the beginning like you just said, you don’t have the name recognition, maybe you know someone from the past that will get you the first meeting but to get past the competition, against the established companies that have been around for 20, 30, 50 years it definitely takes a lot of heroics and a lot of hard work and the customer isn’t inclined to go with you. The customer’s inclined to, like you just said, make the safe choice. Almost anyone who’s ever purchased IT doesn’t want to risk, they want to eliminate as much risk as possible.
Jere Simpson: I’ll just add on to that. One of the things that I did at that time was find other companies who had accomplished similar feats with their sales and call them up, ask them about it, everybody loves to talk about this heroic moment and it’s the same question that you just asked me. Give them an opportunity to talk about that heroic moment to our people so they could start to visualize and feel the possibility of it. I got seven different CMO’s and sales leads to walk us through this heroic moment of their own, made it feel real, tangible, possible to our people. There’s always a bit of psychology there just to get them to understand it’s doable, it does happen. It’s hard, but it does happen.
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you share one or two of your hacks, if you will? Some of the sales hacks that you’ve incorporated into your process.
Jere Simpson: Actually what I would like to talk about as far as hacks goes is how much I loathe them. It’s very popular, there’s all these growth hacks and if you’re a heavily funded external capital [Inaudible 25:58] capital, your #1 goal is to show sales and at least what looks like traction and it is almost a mandatory tool is to dip into the growth hack tool kit and figure out what you can do to get some spikes. It’s just not how you build a sustainable business.
A hack is what it is, it is a spike, it’s a temporary boost, it’s not something that you can rely on or it wouldn’t be called a hack and it’s not repeatable. What I want to do is find things that work that I can turn up the dial on. We write these blogs which facilitate people into LinkedIn conversations with our sales people and we get them into this, then they convert at this level, they pass them onto a more senior person. I can see that that works, I can just insert cash and turn up the dial on something that works and keep looking at refining what’s working and what’s not and only get better.
A hack is, “I swung really hard, I happened to connect, I hit a grand slam, I have no idea if I can do it again, I killed a whale, I broke all the spears doing it. We’ll eat well for 8 months but I have no idea what we’ll do after that” and that’s just not how you build a sustainable business. We really try to get hacks out of our sales cycle as much as possible. Sometimes you just have to entertain the sales folks with them because they’re just so curious to see if something works and so just from the point of entertainment we’ll allow it.
Fred Diamond: Did you ever question the role of sales? Was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself, “It’s really just too hard, it’s not for me”?
Jere Simpson: No. It is like I said, It’s the life blood of any product or service. I mentioned earlier that I’m a technologist, I get really excited by technology. There’s a lot of give and pull in sales. I love tracking, measuring, comparing. A lot of it is to me like programming is, you dial up something, see if it works, nope it fails, let’s try a new thing. I love trial and error, to me it’s such a creative, fun art and a science and so many things are one or the other.
I love where those two intersect and even when I look at how much of a traditional process there is for something, watching how a unique salesperson puts their own flavor and spin on it which just means a lot of the art is just so exciting. So I can say no, I’ve never considered that it just was too hard. If it’s too hard then business is too hard so we would just not do business if sales is too hard because it won’t happen without sales.
Fred Diamond: What’s the most important thing you want to get across to the junior selling professionals listening to today’s podcast to help them improve their career?
Jere Simpson: We always talk about tracking, measuring and then comparing so it’s difficult to know what’s working, what’s not working or how you’re doing if you’re not tracking the minutia of everything that you’re doing. We want to look at the different points in the sale cycles and see, let’s just say on average you convert from one point in the funnel to another. I’ll just use an easy number, let’s just say it’s 20% and Sarah converts it 70% and so what we want to do then is say, “OK, Sarah. What are you doing? Let’s all watch. You might not know what you’re doing that’s special but you’re doing something differently, you’re consistently converting at 70 while the rest is doing 20 and all I want to do is get everybody else to 28%.”
If you convert every point in the cycle at 8% you’re going to have incredible geometric growth. So we just focus on tracking which doesn’t feel fun but it is fun when you’re able to use it as a tool to then say, “OK, this is the person that does it best. How can we learn from that person? How can I teach what I know to a team and in exchange they’ll teach me and figure out what those differences are to improve and improve and improve. Like I said, if you can make those improvements that compound all the way through the funnel, it has tremendous results and it feels a bit like a game to me. I like to game a fight and so many salespeople, some of their compensation is based on their sales so it’s the most fun game when it changes your bottom line and what your take home is in your pocket.
Fred Diamond: Jere, I have a question for you. We’ve mentioned some large companies, one of the big challenges that a lot of the Sales Game Changers face is hiring, retaining and motivating top tier talent. The smart, young people who have an aptitude for being successful in sales some cases can almost write their own ticket. They can pretty much dictate where they’re going to go to, the top 15% and there’s obviously some big names, big brand name type companies, if you will. Again, you created 4 very successful companies. What are some of the characteristics that you found would make someone successful in sales at a startup type of a company like Kitewire Mobility?
Jere Simpson: People that can take hits and it not mess with their mentality. If somebody slams the phone down on you or sends you back a nasty email or whatever, leave me alone kind of thing, if that affects you and damages you then you become afraid to do it. You become afraid to reach out and you start only picking the people that you think won’t. It’s amazing how many people will slam the phone on you and then respond to a follow up email, they were just having a bad day that day and so it’s a bit of a thick skinned, perseverant, optimistic, always positive, always optimistic mindset that doesn’t allow themselves to feel down when somebody slams the phone on them.
They say, “OK. That’s going to happen, I’m going to pick it up and I’m going to get in touch with the next lead and keep going from here.” It’s amazing how many people I guess don’t have the endurance that it takes. It’s tough, it feels bad, it’s a lot of friction but some people have a real gift for not letting it upset them or get in their head and moving on to the next one.
Fred Diamond: Very good. What are some of the things that you do to sharpen your saw and stay fresh?
Jere Simpson: I love to try and practice selling our competitor’s products. I want to find out if it is easier than ours and certainly from a product development perspective. Perhaps they’ve done something with their product that makes it easier to sell but very often it’s just how they’ve positioned themselves and it helps me figure out what could we do. Maybe they have collateral that’s facilitating the process, maybe they have fly ship customers, a reputation, what is it that they’re doing? Maybe their pricing is better.
That’s a little bit of a business model thing. If this is how our competitors are selling, it allows me to think more clearly about the advantage of what I’m selling and what my value add is. Often at the end of the exercise I think, “Gosh, I don’t know, that’s a pretty easy sell, it’s difficult to sell ours over theirs, I need to work on that. I need to put a little bit more focus into it, I need to listen to our customers more closely about what it is they need and fine tune how we address their needs. Potentially both of our products address their needs equally well but if I can position and pitch it right on tune then what the customer or potential customer is going to say is, “He hears my problem, understands my needs, is going to bring more value. These are the people I’m going to go with.”
Fred Diamond: That’s the first time anyone’s ever answered that question that way so that’s definitely a technique we’re going to spend a little more time looking into. Jere, what’s a major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success?
Jere Simpson: I touched on it a little bit earlier, we’re trying to eradicate growth hacks. There’s so many podcasts, blogs, there’s all these popular Gary V, and I love Gary V, it’s so fascinating to listen to. I believe that some growth hacks actually make it post-hack, they actually become traditional technique but I’m just trying to eradicate that mindset out of all of our companies because it’s just not sustainable and I want to anchor everything that we do in honesty and sustainability and things that scale.
Fred Diamond: That’s very powerful. That’s one of the key things that came across in today’s podcast. As an entrepreneur, you’re right, there is a temptation because you have people who’ve invested and you need to show success but you’re understanding that they are not sustainable, they’re flash in the pan, they’re going to cause you more harm than good. You’re probably doing some things to the product that won’t be sustainable along the way and so many things that need to happen – and you mentioned this before in the podcast – not just in the sales process for your company to be successful. One thing that we talked about in the pre conversation was sales or marketing leading product development, or product development in some cases leading sales.
How does everything fall into play so that the company can be successful? Jere, sales is hard. People don’t return your calls or emails. You mentioned people tend to slam down the phone sometimes if they’re not happy, maybe they were having a bad day. Why have you continued? What is it about sales and the entrepreneurial world that keeps you going?
Jere Simpson: Like I mentioned earlier, it’s the life blood of any company or even organizations that are not companies, not for profits, things of that nature. There’s a lot of gratification in meeting the needs. Somebody has a need and they’re willing to spend their money to solve it through what you’ve created and the salesperson often is the translator between need and solution so need is the customer, solution is the people at your business that make the product and it’s this critical translator between the two. I’ve listened to a lot of our product creation people try to sell and hear what they think is valuable. Sometimes we’re able to extract gems that we hadn’t considered.
More often than not, it’s just very difficult for them to speak the language of need to the customer and address it and I just think it’s a beautiful art coupled with a beautiful science and I have tremendous appreciation for it. I don’t venture into businesses where I don’t believe we can put together a strong sale system, sales force, sales team. I know we’ve talked about this a lot but I have started businesses where we’ve led with sales and marketing ahead of product because I didn’t really want to invest too much into the product if we could not figure out how to sell it. I think that showed our team how important and how much priority I put on that because a lot of times you build something, you just think, “This is going to sell like hot cakes, people are going to love this” and it’s just not true. It’s idealistic, it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t convert as well as you think it will. If someone is looking to start a business, they should practice selling it before it even exists to people.
It’s amazing, I’ve had people start businesses with products that they sold for quite a bit of money that they could not sell for free and that is a tremendously negative indicator but I’ll have them say, “Just go try to see how many people you can get to use your product for free and you might be surprised that it’s difficult, so that will be an indicator of a very large problem, you shouldn’t invest your money and time into this thing. You should go at least test how does it sound to the people that you think will need it.”
Fred Diamond: Jere, give us one final thought to inspire the Sales Game Changers listening to today’s podcast around the globe.
Jere Simpson: What we tell our sales force is that there’s a real focus on being 100% human, genuine and honest with everybody that they’re talking to and all of the genuine and the honest, that’s all around just being human because people connect with humans and I just mean being kind of raw and realistic and saying, “Oh, I understand, what you’re looking for is this. Your problem is this. It’s a function of budget” all built around how do they form that connection.
Be 100% human, genuine and honest with everybody that they’re talking to and all of the genuine and the honest, that’s all around just being human because people connect with humans. You can be honest with someone in a way that blows the sale in the moment, you’ll be amazed how often they’ll come back to you when the people that lied to them didn’t work out for them and that happens a lot. Somebody else will say, “Yep, my products will do everything you ever dreamed it would do” and we’ll try to be very honest and ethical as possible so that we can have that connection.
If that causes a break for us, many times they’ll say, “Hey, we went with the other people and we regret it. We’re stuck into a contract with them” but they’ll immediately start talking in their organization to people that don’t stay in those organizations and leave and go to other organizations and their peers who do the same thing at other jobs about they went with product B, they wished they’d gone with product A. It’s just the most powerful way to make that connection and we believe it’s through genuine honesty and just being people. We’re all people, just try to relate to each other.