510: Why Salespeople Need To Behave More Like Doctors | Keenan

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Keenan joins George Leith this week on the podcast. Through his business, A Sales Growth Company, he has helped companies increase sales by 300%, positioned companies to raise millions of dollars in funding, rebuilt sales cultures, implemented ABM strategies, built sales teams for multi-million dollar mergers, and stopped negative sales growth for all types of companies, from start-ups to Fortune 25. In this episode, he provides his unique perspective on CRMs, who own the success in a coach and coachee relationship, and a new communication style to increase productivity. You can view his passionate, daily videos by following the hashtag #KeenanVids on LinkedIn but today we’re going to give you the whole package here on the Conquer Local Podcast.

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George: This is the Conquer Local podcast, a show about billion dollar sales leaders, marketers leading local economic growth and entrepreneurs that have created their dream organizations. They wanna share their secrets, giving you that instilled version of their extraordinary feats. Our hope is with the tangible takeaways from each episode, you can rewire, rework and reimagine your business. I’m your host, George Leith, and on this episode, truly one of the most passionate speakers on sales we’ve ever had. We finally welcome Keenan. As CEO, of a sales growth company, he’s helped organizations increase sales 300%. He’s positioned companies to raise millions of dollars in funding, he rebuilt sales cultures, implemented ABM strategies, built sales teams for multimillion dollar mergers and stopped negative sales growth for all types of companies from start-ups to Fortune 25. I’ve been following Keenan for years, and I truly believe his book, Gap Selling, is something that every salesperson should read or listen to on an audio book. You can see his passionate daily videos by following the hashtag Keenanvids on LinkedIn. But today we’re gonna give you the whole unedited package. Get ready Conquers. Keenan is coming up next, on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local podcast. Finally, Keenan is on the Conquer Local podcast. Keenan, I’ve had you on the list for years and we’ve been trying to get your attention. So thank you for taking us up on this opportunity. We went through your agents and your assistants, and your team, and we now have you on the show. And one of the reasons is I’m a fan. I’m a big fan. I didn’t read your book, I listened to your book a number of years back, and I highly recommend that as well, to our listeners to just get the audio book, ’cause then you get Keenan and all his greatness. ‘Cause I can read the words, but when you present them and they get a whole other level of passion to them. So thanks for joining us on the show.

Keenan: Thank you, man, I’m glad to be here, I’m excited.

Treat CRMs As A Doctor Would Treat CRMs

George: Doesn’t suck. You live in Vail, Colorado. So thanks for not being on the ski hill today to join us. And I wanna talk about… We could talk about a lot of stuff, but I wanna specifically talk about your love of CRMs. And you’ve talked about it a bunch, I’ve listened to some of your vignettes that you have on your LinkedIn profile. But you believe that the only way you can be a great salesperson, if I’m reading between the lines correctly is if you’ve got a CRM, so tell us about that.

Keenan: Yeah, hey look, I wanna be on the record for I’ll let you use the word CRM. I don’t really give a what it’s okay. But, for lack of a universal term, we’ll go with CRM. If you wanna put that shit on a piece of paper, I think it’s a monumental failure because it’s hard to find, but I’m still willing to accept that. So using the term CRM, as a moniker, the reason I believe it is great sales people sell on data and we don’t talk about this enough, okay? They sell on data. Every single prospect buyer, customer, whatever the you wanna call ’em, right? Has their own own story. Everybody listen to me, they have their own story, and their story is the whole description of where they are today. What’s going on in their life. What’s going on in their world, what problems they’re facing, the impact those problems are having. How it’s manifesting on their business, on their life, on their relationship, on their customers, on their employees, on their financials, I don’t care. And every story is different. And your job is to understand that story. What is going on? How is it affecting them? Et cetera. And if you document that shit, you can’t sell to it, and you don’t know. It’s like a doctor who sees 25 patients a day for a year, and you came in on the Thursday on the 19th and they found some things wrong, and they found some things that were hurting you, but they weren’t deathly yet. And then they don’t write any of that shit down. And you come back two months later, like, “Oh, why are we here? What was going on? And I don’t know what’s happening.” Are you ? You would lose your shit, if that’s what a doctor did. But that’s what we do is to our customers every day, we don’t take good notes, we don’t understand, we don’t put in the CRM, we don’t put a logical order. And so you don’t know what’s going on within days, days after actually having a conversation with your buyer.

George: Well, I 100% agree with that, and I also have made the error of, I’m just gonna write down in a little book that I never go back to, that it’s so old school. But let’s get to another thing that I think, we’re gonna learn a bunch in the next, few minutes here, that we get to spend together. But isn’t getting to those stories about asking the right questions and then shutting up and listening and finding out those stories. What are some tactics around getting to that?

Keenan: So yes, 100%. Like again, people talk all the time about discovery, and how important it is, right? But the truth of the matter is. Very few people or very few organizations or trainings, whatever you wanna call ’em, truly have defined what good discovery is. Well, except Gap Selling, I mean almost the whole book leads on that, because at the end of the day, that’s the most important piece. You crush discovery appropriately, the rest of the sales, almost a cakewalk, right? So they always, “Oh, you gotta get the need, you gotta find the pain, blah, blah.” It’s all bullshit, ’cause they don’t go nearly deep enough, right? So because of that, the best way to do it, is first off to really get someone to define what good discovery is. A good discovery is understanding, where the problems exist and what the problems are, that your product or service can solve. So in other words, I’m gonna like it to a doctor again. look all doctors at the end of the day. If you have a friend who’s an orthopedic surgeon. Yeah, he could help you a little bit on sort of understanding if you got a cold, you got something with your chest, he could say, it could be this, could be that, you need to go talk to a specialist. But at least they have enough background information to put you in the right box, right? But the truth matter is, that’s not their specialty. So they don’t know what questions to ask, they can only go so deep, right? And so, it’s the same thing with sales people, right? If I’m an orthopedic and you come to me and I know it’s a knee problem, I have a bazillion questions I can ask you. And I know before you walk in, because I know exactly what the problems look like. I know how they manifest. I know the impacts they have, et cetera. So I know where to go. Same thing in sales, we have something in gap selling called the PIC, the Problem Identification Chart. We advocate, and I advocate that you need to have written down all the problems, your product and service solves, the impacts it can have on an organization. The root causes of those problems. And salespeople need to study that more than your stupid product. Because once you have a powerful and in depth understanding of the problems a prospect has in your space. How those problems manifest themselves, what the root causes are, what the impacts to an organization is, how they define them, how they measure them, what is good? What is bad? What’s an appropriate measurement? What’s not an appropriate measurement? What’s below the benchmark? When you understand all of that, it’s naturally easy, to ask the questions. But the problem is, most sales organizations don’t train the people on that. And so they don’t know what the problems are. They don’t know how they manifest themselves, they don’t know what the root causes are. So they don’t know what questions to ask.

George: Well, and I think that, you’ve covered a couple of items. We need to be able to document the data so that we can pull it up when we need to, as we’re moving through that buyer’s journey. But we gotta ask the right questions to get the information. So let me run a scenario by you, I think you’ll find this humorous. I got a young seller, just started with our company about two years ago. He’s six to eight months into his career, comes to me, he wants some one-on-one coaching. So we go to the old guy, get some coaching. And he sat down and he said, “I was crushing it for the first 120 days, and then it started to do this.” So I went back and listened to a few of his calls. Thank the Lord, we have all this great technology, we’re able to transcribe the call and I can go through it. In a very short period of time I found, you’re not taking the time to understand their problems. He goes, “I know what their problems are.” I said, yeah, but you’re rushing it through the pipe and not building rapport. They don’t trust you, because you haven’t went through those steps. Now there is a set of processes that we need to go through even if we know the answer to the problem. If we’ve become proficient and we know the answer, how would you articulate that to sales folks to remember, to put that time in?

Keenan: So the first thing I would tell you right now, is we don’t know the problem, and that is the problem. We think we know the problem. And this goes back to what I said before, right? Before I said that every single customer has a unique set of problems. Every customer is different. Remember I said that?

George: Yes.

You DON’T Know The Problem; You must ask questions to diagnose

Keenan: So, when you go in and you say, “Oh, I know the problem” Let’s just say they sell financial software that gets them more AR, I’m making this shit up, right? So the sales broker say, “I know what the problem is, they’re losing too much AR.” No, you don’t know the problem, and that is the problem, because every customer is different. So yeah, they may be losing AR, but how much? How’s it affected them? What can’t they buy? What weren’t they able to purchase? Did they have to lose any bills? Do they lose a line of credit? Like that’s the problem, not the fact that they’re losing AR, but the unique impact to them because they lose the AR, how much do they losing? That you’ll never know, if you don’t ask questions. So here’s an example I like to use all the time. And I call it marriage questions, and I do this in my training. So George, if I went to you and I said, okay, George, don’t answer these questions. Well, here, answer this question. If I asked you, are you happy in your marriage? What are you gonna tell me?

George: Yes.

Keenan: Yes, okay. So in a salesperson, if I ask you, do you like this? Do you like this? Is this working out? 99% of the time, you’re gonna say yes, right?

George: Correct.

Keenan: Now that’s what I do right here. Now don’t answer any of these questions, George, but I want you to think ’em okay. So George, when’s the last time you and your spouse got in the fight? When’s the last time she or you called each other a name? When’s the last time you came home with flowers or something really special just for no reason? Wasn’t the anniversary, wasn’t birthday just came home and said, “I love you?” Gave flowers or something special. When’s the last time you cooked a meal or planned a date or did something that she was completely unexpected? When’s the last time she did that for you? When’s the last time you were intimate? How frequently are you intimate in comparison to earlier on in your ? When’s the last time you slept on the couch? When’s the last time you fought over money? How often do you fight over money? When’s the last time you talked bad about it her your friends? When’s the last time she talked about bad about you to your friends? Now, if I actually got you to answer those questions, would I know if you had a good marriage or not?

George: Yes.

Keenan: Yes. It doesn’t matter what you think anymore. The minute I get the answers to those questions, I now understand where your marriage is, right? So, same thing with this , he thought you had a bad marriage and maybe you did, but he doesn’t know how bad, he doesn’t know where it’s bad. He doesn’t know how long it’s been bad. He doesn’t know if your wife feels it’s bad. And so therefore, if you don’t know all of that underlying shit, you don’t know anything. So you don’t know the problem. You don’t know the ****ing problem, that’s the problem. Sales people are so damn narcissistic and self-centered think they know everything. And the truth of the matter is we’re a bunch of dip shits, dip shits who are being pushed by sales manager, to make quota, to drive some number, to make the Wall Street happy, to make the seal bunch of cash. And really truth be know, couldn’t give two shits about the problems they’re trying to solve for the customers, how the customers are reeling, how they’re unable to make their numbers, how they’re struggling, and we’re supposed to help them like doctors. But instead, all we can give a shit about is how do I make my goddamn quota? That’s the problem.

George: Mic drop. Well, I love it. And you’re preaching to the choir on all of those items. I now wanna pivot, because there was a couple different topics that I wanted to get to. So thanks for that. And you’ve validated a lot of stuff that I’ve been thinking that we’ve been talking about on this show with others for years. I wanna talk about coaching. And I’ve said something years ago, we’re five seasons into this show. And I said, something years ago, there are no bad staff, there are just bad managers. And then people will be like, “Oh, well, wait a minute. What about this? And what about that? And what about this?” And I’m like, if you’re running the team, the team goes where the manager leads them to. And if there’s a problem in there, that’s solely on the shoulders of the manager. So I don’t know if you agree with that or not, but I wanna get into coaching and management and leadership.

Keenan: I disagree. I believe that coaching is a… Oh God, I usually have pretty good words, but this one I’m struggling on. Is a bilateral engagement, or you know, bilateral engagement. It’s a collaborative environment. There we go, I’ll go with that. Coaching in my opinion is a collaborative environment. There is absolute truth to you can lead a horse to water, absolute truth. And so, I have as much responsibility to learn how to coach you in a way that is gonna maximize your ability to grow and learn. You have a responsibility as a coachee, to want to learn, to actually put in the effort, to expose yourself to criticism, to expose yourself to opening, to expose yourself to feedback and to take it in and change your behaviors. And if you don’t wanna do that, not my problem! And to every coaching organization out there who thinks it’s one sided, you, because you are the problem. ‘Cause what you do, is you create an environment now watch right here George, and I know you believe that, so I still love ya. But what you do when you don’t put accountability on both parties, is you give the coachee, the opportunity to become a victim, blame the coach. And then not only continue to the bad behaviors, but double down on why they’re not bad behaviors. And the minute we do that, it’s done. It is done, and there is no role for coaches anymore. And you know where we’re seeing it? In Peewee sports. That’s exactly where we’re seeing it. The parents do not wanna accept the coaching that the kids are getting. They don’t like the fact that their kids are made uncomfortable. And that’s a coach’s job to make kids uncomfortable or not kids with the coachee. The whole point of coaching is, hey, I see opportunity for growth, I see areas you can improve. I see areas you’re not doing as well. That should make you uncomfortable, right? Unless you’re completely coachable. The completely coachable person, thrived on that. They realized telling me, I just did something great, there was no room for improvement there. Telling me where I just messed up and where I can improve, is where I grow. Oh my God, gimme more of that, please. That’s what you want. The who doesn’t want hear that, no, no, no, no, no. And that’s what PeeWee’s all about, and that’s why PeeWee sports are getting up.

George: Let me go back to, I wanna debate this a little bit, because I think actually we’re closer on this. If we’re hiring somebody, and we feel that they’re not coachable. Like if they’re not willing to take the feedback, ’cause they’re not looking to grow. If they think they know everything, then why would we even bring ’em into the team?

Keenan: Okay, agreed. So that’s not coaching to me, that’s leadership.

George: Okay.

Keenan: Right? So 100%, 100% as leaders, we own it if we hire people who aren’t coachable. 100%. I heard your question as from a coaching perspective, right? So I separate coaching from leadership.

Leadership Is Judgement, Coaching Is Evaluation

George: Well, I’d love to understand that Keenan, because I think that’s a great lesson for the folks that are listening, that are leading teams. Why do you separate those two things?

Keenan: Because I think leadership is your ability to make decisions that maximize the ability of the team as a whole, pick talent, see strategy, implement processes. Create inspiration, remove hurdles, I think that’s leadership. Coaching to me is a subset of leadership, I guess. I mean, I don’t wanna create a hierarchy or nothing, you know, whatever. It’s a subset of of leadership. And it’s my ability to develop you as an individual. Once I’ve determined, you should be on the team. Once I’ve determined, you have the skill sets. Once I’ve determined, you’re an athlete I want, if you are using athlete in the general terms, right? So once I’ve done that, that’s my job is to grow you. And now I say this a lot as well, and this is where a lot of people mess up. Leadership is about evaluation, right? Judgment. Sports is easy. I think you should be on the team, you should be on the team. Or in business, I think you should be on a team, you should be on the team because I assess or judge your talent. Coaching is evaluation of feedback. And I said, all the time, never judge in coaching. Don’t say you are bad, this was bad. You up. No, no, no, no, no, no. Coaching is, “Hey, you did this. I saw that, I saw this behavior. This is the outcome that you got from that behavior or that skill. My daughter’s a mogul skier, for instance. Babe, I saw you turning a little early on the top of the mogul because of that, that was creating this. I know your goal is to be able to go more direct. So, why don’t you try this instead, it’ll get you this result. That’s coaching, right? It’s not like a performance review. I ask people all the time, you coached? Yeah, totally, we have performance review at the end of the year. And I listen to the calls and I tell ’em they screw. No, no, no, there’s no judging in coaching, only evaluating, big difference. There is judging in leadership. “I don’t think you’re good enough, I don’t think you’re fast enough. You’re not cutting it, we have to remove you from the team. Or you’re the best I’m gonna start you. Leadership is judgment, coaching is evaluation. The two should never come together.

George: I love that. That is some great advice. And more often than not, it does come together. Sitting with a young sales manager. Our company’s grown like crazy, We’ve got all these up and comers, they’re moving into management positions. It’s probably first time that they’ve ever been in that position. And I was working with one of them last week and we put in a coaching methodology, and it was like an epiphany, smart guy. And he was like, “Where has this been? Why I haven’t I had this?” He was really under the opinion that the weekly one-on-one, was all that he had to invest in the rep. And he only had eight reps. And I’m sitting here going, you have 40 hours. I’m actually expecting you to work out a lot more than that. Show me what you’re investing into your team. Show me what you’re investing into the individual rep outside of the one-on-one, which is actually supply us to be their meeting, according to people ops. Do you find that a lot, that people, they’re not really measuring the amount of time that they’re putting into that coaching, that one-on-one coaching moment?

Keenan: A 100%, 100%, almost every organization I’ve ever dealt with believes that the one-on-one is coaching. Now, excuse me. I am seeing more people coaching using exec vision gong and chorus, like, video. And I like it, although I don’t get to see as many of the actual observable moments. Like, I don’t see their notes. I don’t see the one-on-one, but I do know they’re doing it. But no, they don’t do it nearly enough near that. Here’s the problem, it’s an age-old problem. They’re still trying to do their job.

George: Right?

Keenan: Most frontline managers are still trying to do the salesperson’s job. The sales rep calls ’em and says, what do you think I should do? What do you think I should do? Can you come sit on this call? They’re still very prescriptive, right? They’re not really providing the observations and the descriptions of the behavior and encouraging and helping them grow as individuals.

Not Top 1% or 10%; Coach those who have most potential to grow

George: And what about the… If we look at across a team of eight reps and you’re the leader, you’re the coach. Where are you investing your time? And this is an age old debate. Do I invest it with the top two reps that are making up 80% of my revenue? Or do I invest in the middle and try to move some of those into that top tier? Or do I work with the brand new ones that I was just given to fill in a head count number? I know it’s probably all, but what would your advice be to a coach if they were working with a team like that on where they invest their time?

Keenan: So I’m gonna, surprise people. I’m gonna say none of the above.

George: Okay.

Keenan: Right? So what, this is hard, what I’m about to say, but the best do it. And this is where leadership and, coaching come together. It’s not about do I coach the top 10, 20% of the middle of the bottoms? None of that. It’s, I wanna coach those with the most potential to grow. That’s who I wanna coach the most. Okay, and so therefore what I need to be doing is constantly evaluating how much upside is in my team? Right? And where am I going to coach it upside? Right, so here’s where it does fit your model. If I’ve got someone who’s in the top tier and is very little upside, let’s say, Tom Brady, I’m gonna coach him, but I don’t need to coach him that much ’cause they’re probably coaching themselves just as much. Right? So, I’m gonna be like a peer support, like a coach pilot. If you’re one of my top producers and I have assessed that you literally get it. You’re at the top of your game you’re you could do my job. You could beat, you’re one of the best of all time, right? Like you’re Tom Brady, then yeah. I’m still coaching you, but I don’t need to coach you 24/7. It’s much more nuanced. And by the way, because you’re that good, you’re coaching yourself. You’re coming to me saying, “Hey Keenan, watch this film with me, I think I did this. What do you think?” Peyton May’s another example. They’ve already diagnosed it themselves, they’ve probably diagnosed it right. And they just asking for my feedback, right? Those people, not so much. If I have someone who’s, has very little left and they’re at the bottom of the barrel and they’re not performing, guess what? I’m figuring how to get the out. Like if you’ve matched your potential, good on you, I’m proud of you, I really am. Like, you can only be the best you, you can. You put me on a football team tomorrow in the NFL, I’m a decent athlete that I could get in shape and I could do this much, but I could tell you, my ceiling will, especially at 50 foot will never be enough for the team. So always a minute coaching on me. And it’s not because I’m not coachable, I just don’t have it to get there. So get them out. The people in the middle, same concept. Those who have tons of upside and they’re in the middle, that’s where you’re gonna spend the most of your coaching. Because they have tons of upside and they’re not completely producing yet, so you wanna get them from Matt Jones, right? You wanna get Matt Jones up to Tom Brady. So he’s in the middle. He’s got tons of potential, spend a shit load of time on him. And then the people in the middle, who don’t have a lot of potential, a little bit of time. If you can’t get ’em up, get ’em out.

George: And the thing I do like about those sales intelligence tools, is it will tell you if your Tom Bradys are watching a lot of tape. And by the way, I’ve heard this, not sure if it’s true or not, Tom Brady watches more tape than anyone in the profession.

Keenan: Yep.

George: Coaches himself.

Keenan: That’s what they say, yep.

How To Get In Touch Or Follow Along With Keenan

George: 65,000 copies, Keenan of your book, Gap Selling, it is a go-to for most salespeople. If people are like, “I want more of this Keenan stuff and I’m happy that he swears more than George does.” How do they get more Keenan? Where do we find you?

Keenan: You can go to salesgrowth.com. You can find me on LinkedIn on a Keenan and you can find me in YouTube. If you want a lot of videos, YouTube, we got tons of ’em out there. So yeah, YouTube, salesgrowth.com. And you can go Keenan. If you can’t find me, I don’t know what to say. If you really go Jim Keenan, or you go Keenan.Keenan and Google and you can’t find me, you got bigger problems that I can’t help you with.

George: Well, that’s absolutely right. Like your browser isn’t working, you don’t have internet connection or something because you are everywhere. And thank you very much for the learnings today. That was great. I love the debate. Appreciate you taking some time out and we can tick that one off the bucket list. Having Keenan on the Conquer Local Podcast has been a dream of mine for a couple years. So I really appreciate your time.

Keenan: Did I meet your expectation?

George: It exceeded my expectation. I was expecting a few bleeps that we’ll have to put in there, but it was great. No, I love the passion, man. We’re kindred spirits. Great meeting you, and thanks for being on the show.

Keenan: Pleasure was mine baby, pleasure was mine.


George: One of the key takeaways from this episode is Keenan’s passion. Absolutely. He is passionate about the things that he believes in, but I have to agree that CRM, the place where the data is stored on your customers. As he mentioned, it’s like going to a doctor, spilling out your health issues and you come back a month later and it’s like, they’ve never met you before. It really erodes trust when we’re not able to go back and reference information that we’ve learned about our prospects and customers over a period of time. You wanna apply this lesson to your clients, install the trust and pay attention to their unique situation. But you’ll notice that I poked even deeper, around, it’s not just about getting the data and documenting, it’s about asking the right questions to find the right information. He spent a lot of time talking about every business is unique, they have a unique situation. And I love that analogy around, do you have a happy marriage? And then you ask some follow on questions. A lot of times, when I listen to calls of junior sales reps that have just started in the industry, I mean like five years or less experience, they have a tendency not to ask those follow on questions. And you heard from Keenan, why that’s so important, because every customer is unique. And then we got into a bit of a battle there, which I love, around leadership and coaching. And he didn’t necessarily agree with my assessment that there are no bad staff, there’s just bad managers. I think he kind of came around to what I was talking about, or maybe that it’s just the way that I saw it, in listening back to it. But leadership is about evaluation and there’s going to be a judgment. Coaching is about the evaluation of feedback, where we guide individuals through a situation. And we try to keep judgment out of coaching. If you’d like Keenan’s episode, All about CRMs and Coaching, let’s continue the conversation with another couple of episodes. Episode 442, Mastering Predictive Sales. Data and Instinct with Techibo’s Chris Bartorenco, great episode. Or episodes 305 and 306, Jason Forrest, I’m a big fan. We did part one and part two around the four mental leashes of sales. Those all tie into the message that we had today from Keenan. Please subscribe and leave us a review. And once again, I’d like to thank you for joining us this week, on the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.

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