Podcast

Podcasting For Sales, Hiring Processes & The Tao Te Ching Of Sales with Pat Helmers

Pat Helmers – The Sales Babble Podcast & Habanero Media

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Name: Pat Helmers

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickhelmers

Company Name: Sales Babble & Habanero Media

Company Website: www.salesbabble.com

Short Bio:

Pat Helmers is the founder of Habanero Media , a podcast agency that focuses on B2B interview-based podcasts. He is also at times a business consultant and technology startup advocate. He is the host of the award winning Sales Babble podcast, and the Orange Squad podcast. Pat’s had a varied career as a software engineer, inventor, technology startup vice president of sales as well as business consultant and most recently podcast evangelist.

Show Notes

In today’s episode, I am speaking with Pat Helmers of The Sales Babble Podcast and founder of Habanero Media.

We covered a lot of topics including how podcasting is great for increasing your network and reach which will eventually lead to more sales for you and your business.

We talked about the hiring process Pat used during his time in enterprise sales to sort the wheat from the chaff and attacting the very best talent. Leaning into Pat’s enterprise background we also dived into CRM setup, weighted pipelines and linear sales processes.

Pat’s interesting take on philosophy in the sales function wound the show to a close as we dove into his blog The Tao Te Ching of Sales for some insights into “sales without selling”.

All in all, this was a super interesting conversation and we look forward to having Pat Helmers back on The Full stack Sales Podcast again soon.

 

Transcription

Sam Wilcox:

So, let’s jump into the podcast with Pat Helmers of Sales Babble Podcast and Habanero Media. Pat Helmers, how are you doing today, my friend? Thanks for coming here again.

Pat’s been gracious enough to give us his time, and we’re going to jump into it. It actually leads us on to some interesting stuff. But before we do that, we do have to let the listeners know a little bit about Pat, what you do, who you are, what you’re about, what your company’s about, and everything to do with Pat right now. So, do you want to give everybody a bit of a heads up?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah, I’m a podcaster. I host the Sales Babble Podcast, selling secrets for non-sellers. It’s a podcast about people who have a background in something else, but they don’t really think of themselves as salespeople. They’ve got some technology or some craft or some skill, but they know that they really want to take their art and their thing and some software or something that they’ve built and release it to the world. They got to get better at persuasion. And that’s what Sales Babble is all about. It’s being able to speak and be able to get people excited about something that you have, and turn that into a business because without revenue you don’t have a business. Without sales everything else goes up in smoke.

Sam Wilcox:

And this has been going now for seven years you mentioned earlier on.

Pat Helmers:

Seven years. Yeah, seven years this month I’ll be hosting Sales Babble. I’m a founder of a company called Habanero Media, and Habanero Media is a podcast production agency that helps B2B companies start interview-based podcasts so that they could boost their brand, their authority, their influence. And it may seem odd, but revenue, it actually boosts revenue. Podcasting is the new blogging. It’s a new way of doing content marketing, and it gives an ability for a company to stand out from all the other competition. And it gives you an opportunity as the host of a podcast to talk to anybody in the industry, bring them on as a guest, and build a network that you never could easily if you were just some pushy salesperson.

Sam Wilcox:

Right. Is that where the revenue piece comes in then for Habanero? Is that when you say, obviously, podcasts can increase revenue, is that because it’s increasing network and just your general reach? Is that the link there or is there something else there as well?

Pat Helmers:

There’s something else there. It’s possible, for example, people buy from people who they know, like, trust, right?

Sam Wilcox:

Right.

Pat Helmers:

It’s stuff that people say. I don’t know if that’s always true, by the way, that’s a different conversation. But people often say that, and it allows you to build a relationship with somebody. If you have them on your podcast and you talk about some industry, something that’s interesting in the industry, at the end of the interview, invariably, they’re going to say, “Well, what do you guys do?” And you’re going to say, “Well, we do this, and we do that.” And they’re going to go, “Oh, I might be interested in that. Oh, we should get together sometime and talk about that.” And then you convert that guest into a prospect.

Sam Wilcox:

Right. Okay. So, it’s great for networking. I mean, look at me guys, I’m a pro. I’ve got two hours of Pat’s time today, and now we’re best friends. So, this is how you do it. Okay, This is how you do it.

Pat Helmers:

We’ll hit the pub after this, right? You’re buying, right?

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. But it’s right. It builds your network. You have long-form conversations with people which allow you to build that trust, which I think is a super valid point. And, yeah, if what you get across. Well, if you’re speaking to somebody that has a need for what you do as well, then there’s obviously an opportunity for you to convert even a guest into a sale, right?

Pat Helmers:

Yes, absolutely. See, casting is really interesting. It’s different from all the other social medias and various marketing channels that are out there because podcasting is very intimate. It’s like what we’re doing right here. It’s a conversation. You and I are looking at each other, and we’re having a real conversation. And the listeners sitting at the table next to us kind of eavesdropping in and people that start a podcast, finish it all the way to the end.

That’s not the case of YouTube videos where you have. Where people commonly drop off pretty quick. When people figure out podcasts that they like, they listen to them all the way to the end. And unlike other things like reading a blog or doing YouTube or watching a TikTok or any of this stuff that’s online. You can do two things at once with a podcast. You could drive a car and listen to a podcast. You can go for a walk and listen to the podcast, do housekeeping and do a podcast. You can do all kinds of things while listening to a podcast because your brain can split between the two. It makes a great vehicle for learning. And I think of podcasts as infotainment, a part entertainment, part information.

Sam Wilcox:

I like that. Yeah, I’m definitely a big fan of podcasts myself. I actually can probably credit a huge portion of my knowledge to podcasts, if I’m being totally honest with you. The amount of time I’ve spent listening to podcasts over the years has been, I mean, I wouldn’t even be able to come close to counting the amount of hours I’ve spent listening to podcasts, but having the ability to have them on in the background while doing a mindless repetitive activity like driving. I know driving shouldn’t be mindless, but let’s face it. It is a little bit. Once you’re on a route that you know, and you’re on that regular route. So, yeah, I’m totally with you, and from our side of things as well, this is fun. So it’s fun to do podcasts. Me, personally, I enjoy meeting new people and picking their brains and figuring out what they know that I don’t because it’s usually a hell of a lot. So, I think it’s right.

In terms of, I wanted to ask you about this, actually. We didn’t get a chance to talk about this earlier, but I’m interested to know a little bit about what your sales process is like for Habanero Media. So, how do you guys get known by new people? And then once somebody comes into your sphere of awareness, how do you move them through a pipeline or process? How does that work for you guys?

Pat Helmers:

When we got started, all of our clients came from networking. People that we knew or people who knew people that we knew. And so, it’s just a matter of getting out there and starting to chat with people. I did a classic thing that I do that I recommend as a sales consultant, as a business development consultant, I did a lot of reaching out to people and saying, “Hey, I’m doing a market research study. I’m thinking about doing this. What do you think about this?” I’ve got five or six questions I could ask you. And then people will give you feedback on it, and then you thank them very much. And then you go back a month later and say, “Hey, I’m going to build this. This looks like what you were talking about?” And they go, “Yeah.” And then they would go, “Sure, I think I’d like to be a customer.”

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. That’s a really good point for any kind of startups or new-ish business or not even necessarily startups, it could be a company that is trying to expand a service offering or trying to relaunch a service offering. That’s a good way of positioning yourself from an outreach perspective to speak to people that would be your target client or target customer and position them as an expert that you require their feedback from, which is true. You do require their feedback and they are an industry expert in what they do. So, you can build that trust with somebody by asking them. People like to help other people as long as they don’t feel like they’re being swindled in any way, if you know what I mean.

Pat Helmers:

That’s exactly right. I totally agree. This is a great way for startups to even understand if their business even makes sense. It’s easy to love your baby no matter how ugly it is because it’s your baby, but to really know whether or not you have a product that adds value to the market and that people are willing to exchange money for it. The best thing to do is go out there and do some market research. And this is a great way of doing it.

Sam Wilcox:

So, how do you then… Because we should also tell people about your previous experience as well. So you were VP of sales for a learning management company, right? Or an education?

Pat Helmers:

Education company, yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

So you’ve got many years worth of actual sales directorship, let’s say, underneath your belt. So you understand how enterprise works and all that kind of stuff. How do you go from that first kind of initial, I’m doing this as feedback and then moving towards the point where, okay, well we need to start hiring salespeople now and we need to start getting a bit of a process in place.

I think one of the reasons I’m asking is because the service that we offer is positioned in a way where we try and take people that are trying to build a sales team. We hold their hand around doing that process. But one of the things that I see quite a lot is people don’t quite know when to make that jump, if you know what I mean from the CEO or business owner doing the sales and trying to prove out the product and the messaging and that kind of stuff to the point where they should then start to actually process this out a little bit more. You’ve got experience on both sides of the table here is what I’m getting at. Do you know where the… Where’s that crossover point do you think?

Pat Helmers:

I think the crossover point goes where you have great qualified leads that are going stale because you don’t have enough cycles to work on them.

Sam Wilcox:

Right. That’s an interesting point, right? So it’s a lead gen problem, you think. Well, not lead gen problem, but-

Pat Helmers:

It’s a lead follow-up problem. I got leads. I got qualified leads coming in, but I just don’t have enough time to call them all up, or send them all individualized emails. I don’t have time to do sales calls. I don’t have time for any of that. And then they often say, “I also don’t have time to go hiring,” because hiring is hard. Hiring is dangerous, super dangerous. You get a bad hire, it can take a company down, you get a few bad hires and you spend all this money on these people and you get nothing for your investment. It can kill a company. So a lot of founders are very… They put it off and they put it off and they put it off. Meanwhile, there’s all these leads going stale, which is so sad.

Sam Wilcox:

I think that’s a really good point though. So, identifying the point of which to make that decision is one thing, but then actually following through on hiring is. Actually, you need to make that decision even before you get to that point of leads going stale because there’s a hiring process that needs to happen, and that can take months at a time.

Pat Helmers:

The way I do hiring it could take a long time. But if I take the processes that I have, that I’ve trained people on.

Sam Wilcox:

Let’s talk about it, tell us, please.

Pat Helmers:

You trust people that you hire. And so, what’s my process?

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. So, how do you recommend that people go around hiring new sales reps to start building a team?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. I don’t buy what a lot of people do. What I’m seeing right now. I got a good buddy of mine as a recruiter, and he only recruits salespeople in the technology profession. And a lot of companies are out there, especially during this pandemic that has come to the realization, we have no way of training people. I only want to hire people who’ve only sold in this industry. Well, that’s a very narrow niche, and because of non-competes a lot of people can’t work for you. If they want to they’d have been in industry. So, that’s even smaller, a smaller set of people. I’ve had people tell me, he’s like, “I can’t hire good people.” It’s because they’re looking for something, a unicorn that just doesn’t exist.

Sam Wilcox:

When you say that there’s a client of ours that I have in mind. They won’t mind me mentioning this. They’ll know who they are, but they are exactly that person. They are in a very specific niche industry. And they really struggle with hiring new sales reps.

Pat Helmers:

Yeah, they shouldn’t.

Sam Wilcox:

Because they’re looking for people that have got product and service knowledge in the industry already, and it’s super difficult, it’s super difficult.

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. If you get the right person, they can learn it in a month. If you hire the right person, there’s a way of doing this. So, I often would hire people outside of the industry they are at, but I knew the things… There’s a dozen things you need to know in order to sound credible. I just wrote them all down, and I would just teach them these dozen things. Always say it this way, always say it with this kind of flare, always pronounce the word this way. There’s things you can do to make it sound like you’re credible in the industry.

As we mentioned, I was selling in the K-12 education industry. I read a whole bunch of books on curriculum development and curriculum mapping. When I was talking to clients, I’d always be tutoring them on curriculum mapping. And they go to me, “Pat did used to be a principal? You used to be a school superintendent, like a retired one?” And I’m like, “No, no, I just read the books.” That’s all you got to do. I mean, it’s not that hard to sound really credible, actually.

Sam Wilcox:

You need to have a level of knowledge to have a decent conversation. And most of the time that knowledge can be obtained relatively easily. The rep either has to be taught it, or they need to have an easy way to learn themselves.

Pat Helmers:

But it’s got to be smart people. So, you’ve got to hire people that got HEAT. They’re helpful, they’re empathetic, they’re astute, and they’re tenacious. They’ve got these four things. If they’ve got HEAT, then you can teach them that other stuff. But if they don’t have that fundamental thing in them, and this is the thing, you could hire people that might have industry knowledge, but they’re not helpful. They’re not empathetic. They’re not that sharp. They’re not astute. They’re not tenacious. Well, you’d be better off hiring some college grad who’s got that who has no knowledge in that. You pick them up for cheaper and you get more bang for your buck, probably. So, that’s what I’m looking for. And the way I look for people who’ve got HEAT is not that they tell me they’ve got it, but I create a situation in the hiring experience, in the interviewing experience so that they show me that they do it.

For example, let’s say I posted an ad on Indeed, and they reach out to me and say, “Oh, I would like to have that. I would like to. I think I’d be a good fit for your position.” And I would send them an email that says, “It looks like you are a good fit. I’d like to talk to you. Give me a call. Here’s my phone number.” Many people won’t call. I’ve already filtered out a bunch of people or they’ll send an email back, “Well, when would be a good time to call?” I don’t even respond to them. I gave you an order. I said, “Call me.” I gave you my phone number. I gave you permission. You obviously have reluctance picking up the phone. I don’t want you.

Sam Wilcox:

Right. Yeah, that’s a good point. Hey, if you can put the message across so clearly like that, and then they don’t follow through on it, then you don’t have to try and translate that into what that means from a sales position.

Pat Helmers:

Right. I’ve seen employers do this. I’ve seen them chase people. No, if you’re hiring salespeople they should be chasing you, and then maybe I would get on the phone and talk to them. And if they don’t sound coherent, then I would say, “Yeah, we’re looking at other candidates. I’ll get back to you.” But if they sound coherent, then I give them a little test. I send them like a word document that says, I got some questions about sales I’d like you to answer. But really what I’m really trying to test is their ability to string an answer back to me that’s coherent, that they have good writing skills. That it makes sense what they’re saying. I tell them that you only have an hour to do this, but you’re on your honor. So sometimes you can see people have a lot of answers and then less answers they get down. These people are ethical. I like that. I’m looking for that.

And I’m looking for empathy to see if they care about me? Are they asking about me? Are they all talking about them? I got this. There’s a whole process. But the whole process, the way it goes is that by the time it gets done and you actually meet them, and have lunch with them, because lunches and assessment too. Because when they let themselves down and they feel like they’ve got the deal. I’ve seen people say all kinds of stupid stuff. But if you just go through these steps giving people little tests, eventually when it comes to the very end, you’re going to love this person. You’re going to have no problem giving them an offer because you know that when they go to work, they’re going to be there for you. That trust.

Sam Wilcox:

I like that. I mean, it sounds obvious, but they’re almost selling themselves to you during that process. And if they’re doing a bad job then you can see that by these kind of mini steps that you’re saying up along the way, right?

Pat Helmers:

How are they going to represent to you if they can’t even represent themselves?

Sam Wilcox:

Right. Yeah, I love that. So, hiring is an interesting one for sure. I’ve seen many clients have issues with this. I don’t think people have a good enough process around hiring, especially for sales reps. I don’t think people know how to hire for sales reps. So hopefully that insight to your process was at least a bit helpful. Let’s move topics slightly because we wanted to talk about this. We didn’t get a chance to talk about this earlier, but we wanted to talk a little bit about CRM. We wanted to talk a little bit about metrics, around sales and reporting. I wanted to draw on your experience from your previous roles and being in these enterprise sales situations and processes, and being a VP of sales. What were the key metrics that you were looking at for the reps that were on your team and how were you using the software to give you what you need, and manage, and improve people along their journey, their sales journey?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. I’ve worked with a lot of different CRMs, and what I recommend with people when I’m working with clients is that there’s some key performance indicators, and KPIs that are really, really important. CRMs can collect a lot of data, but very little of it’s actually that useful. A lot of people make salespeople put a lot of data in that’s not that useful. The data that really, really matters is our leads that are converted into opportunities. And the only time you convert a lead into an opportunity, in your mind, is when you’ve actually been able to schedule some kind of meeting with them, either on the phone or in-person. These days it’s mostly on the phone or on Zoom.

Sam Wilcox:

On Zoom, yeah.

Pat Helmers:

Right. And because if someone’s willing to do that, if someone is willing to meet with you, they’ve qualified themselves because you only want to be talking to qualified buyers. So, that’s a very important indicator. How many people, how many meetings are they getting scheduled? That’s one. The second big indicator is how many of those meetings actually happened. It’s one thing to schedule them. It’s another thing for people… Sometimes people won’t show up because people will lie because they want to be nice. See, I don’t want to tell you no. So, I’m going to tell you yes. And then hopefully we’ll never, ever meet again in the world. A lot of people are like that and that’s just how people are, and you just gotta accept that.

Those are two metrics that are really, really huge because in the more meetings that you have, like in the enterprise sale, which is where my expertise comes from. And by enterprise, I mean, there’s a lot of decision makers. A lot of people are sitting around the table. You got to get a lot of people all lined up and they all got their own issues and they all got their own agendas. And that’s why they’re called account executives because you really are being an executive and running this whole buying experience. So, in my experience, you get all those people lined up. You’re going to have multiple meetings. So, the more meetings you have with all these people, the more likely they’re going to buy. And there should be percentages set on all of these opportunities. So, let’s say the opportunity’s worth, I don’t know, $10,000. So when I first meet somebody that opportunity might be 5%, right?

Sam Wilcox:

Right.

Pat Helmers:

Or maybe it’s 1%. One out of 100 is going to close. That’s how I like to think of it. But if I schedule them, oh, I got a good chance here. So maybe one out of 10 will close. I’ll put it at 10%. Oh, they actually showed up. Oh, now two out of 10 are going to close. I just pull in these numbers out of… Over time you start to learn what the actual metrics are.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. I think we touched on that briefly earlier on actually, didn’t we? When we were discussing this a little bit about this. You’ve got the metric and the conversion rate around opportunities. Let’s say, for example, you are creating a new opportunity like you mentioned, and this is what we recommend to our clients as well. When a meeting is scheduled that turns from a contact or a lead into an opportunity.

If you’re just incentivizing reps on booking meetings, and obviously you’d be incentivizing them on one deal as well, turning those meetings into one deal. They’re just two numbers that are being calculated and incentivized against. Reps are just going to create meetings just because that’s a number that they need to hit towards that target. And that would probably increase the amount of no shows that would be registered on the system. But I think what you’re getting at here, which is super important, is for reliable forecasting of opportunities and revenue that’s going to come into the business. You have to know what your baseline is for opportunities to close, won opportunities is. So, is it 50%? Let’s just say for ease of maths. 50% of opportunities created turn into one deal.

Once you know that baseline you can then calculate these percentages that you’re talking about here, right? Which is you reverse engineer the close and everything that happens in between the opportunity created and the close and whatever steps are involved there. Let’s say if there’s five steps then you can assign 20% potentially to each one of those steps or they might be weighted or whatever it is. Is that how you see it? Is that how you guys were doing it in the enterprise situation?

Pat Helmers:

Yes. Kind of. Yeah, I guess kind of. In my mind, the percentages are pretty clear. I only really track people who are probably over 50%. Those are the real people that you’re really looking at, everybody. And in a 50% are somebody who has, who you’ve had at least a couple of meetings with, they’re still interested. Sometimes people will say, I want to buy. That only actually bumps them up to 70% because a lot of people say they want to buy, but they never buy. If I send them a quote that’s about 70%. And then when they come back and say, “Yeah, that looks good.” Now they’re at 80%, and I hardly ever pump anybody above that until I get a payment or I get a purchase order or a letter of intent or something like that, something contractual.

Sam Wilcox:

So, these percentages then because there’s a couple of different ways to go around this. I’m interested to know what you guys would do. I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way because it’s just dependent on each business. But you can assign those percentages automatically based on criteria or activities that happen. Or is that something that you would let the reps just put their own gut-feel percentages in there because they know the way that it works.

Pat Helmers:

Yeah, I think that’s what I would do. When you automatically put it into percentages and CRMs can do this people don’t fiddle with them. They don’t think, and I want everybody in the organization to be mindful, everybody. So I would like a good set. So, you think about from a sales manager how you can roll this all up. So, let’s say a rep’s got $100,000 dollars in the deal in maybe over a quarter or over a year. It depends on what you’re selling. What’s the likelihood of all these getting too close? You take the percentages of all these opportunities and add it all up on a set date and you’ll have a number. You’ll have a number. This is how much it’s going to close. And then if you do that for all of your reps, add them all up. That’s how much the organization is going to get, and a lot of managers don’t do that.

They just look at the numbers, but they don’t base them on percentages. Or they base the percentages on the sales funnel, which is which isn’t necessarily where they’re going to close. I’ve had people tell me, “I’m going to buy.” And then all of a sudden not buy and say, “Oh, we’re going to rethink it.” Well, they’re actually all the way through that sales funnel, but the likelihood of them buying is very low. So, you’ve got to move them down to 10% or 5% even though we’ve had five or six meetings with them. Even though I’ve shaken their hands. And even though they’ve actually maybe tried it or something.

Sam Wilcox:

Got it, got it. So you’re saying you need to give the flexibility to the rep because if you try and assign it to each stage, they might have. Yes, they might be at stage five, but the rep might just be able to tell intuitively that this person isn’t going to close and that they’re calling BS on the opportunity at that point, right?

Pat Helmers:

And you could say, “Well, just move them down.” Well, I could, but now I’m losing all this history that happened.

Sam Wilcox:

Right. And usually one of the things that we talk about a lot is that the sales process should be linear as far as I’m concerned. It should be you’re moving people through these stages, you really shouldn’t be able to go backwards. It’s like this happens and then this happens and then they move to this stage as they edge through this process. Yes, they can drop out and you move them to closed and lost, for example. But they never really book in that first discovery call again. It’s you can’t really take someone backwards through the process.

Pat Helmers:

That’s a good way of looking at it, yes.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. So, we always preach a linear sales process, especially when it comes to the opportunities pipeline. Moving contacts through stages is maybe a little bit different because-

Pat Helmers:

That’s different.

Sam Wilcox:

Contact stages are more like a status of where they’re at and how you can market to them. But the opportunities pipeline from our side of things anyway is more of a process that this opportunity moves through. And generally that’s one directional as far as I’m concerned. There may be some odd edge cases there. But for the most part, from what I see, it’s kind of like one-directional, right? So I think you’re right there with that. Another area that I wanted to cover off with you, and this actually came up between our calls today because I found this interesting as we were wrapping up our last non-recorded session.

Pat Helmers:

Probably people are tired of hearing that. They just have to take our word that we did say it earlier.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. It’s all good. It’s all good. So, one of the things that got mentioned in passing was that you. Well, we were talking about stoicism, actually. We were talking about stoicism and a little bit of philosophy.

Pat Helmers:

You should define that. You should define that. What’s stoicism?

Sam Wilcox:

That’s a great question. So, I’m relatively new to the teachings of stoicism, let’s say. I’ve been aware of stoicism for a long time. But I’m new at diving into the literature, let’s say. So I’m currently reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.

Pat Helmers:

Excellent.

Sam Wilcox:

Which is an interesting book. What stoicism means to me right now I think might end up being something different, but for right now it means, well, it’s like a philosophical tool or a way of thinking, or a state of, or a mindset tool, let’s say, where you have to understand that there are certain things that you’re not in control of. And you have to be able to accept those things for what they are and understand that things happen to you, and you can control the way that you react to those things, but you can’t control the things that happen to you. I’m probably muddling this up a little bit.

Pat Helmers:

That’s about right.

Sam Wilcox:

Hopefully you get the general gist of what I’m saying there. Is that what it means to you?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. Life is short, shorter than you think. Stop wasting time on things you have no control of. Only work on the things you can control. Only work on the important things, and what’s the important things? Making the world a better place.

Sam Wilcox:

I haven’t gotten to that page yet.

Pat Helmers:

That was Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius was the last of the five great emperors in Rome. I think he lived around 160, 80, and he was just a really good guy trying to do the best he can in a terrible situation. They were fighting the Germans and there was a pandemic going on. In fact, the pandemic is what killed him.

Sam Wilcox:

Oh, really? Is that what happened?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

Oh, I didn’t know that. I’ve not gotten to the end of the book yet.

Pat Helmers:

Really good guy, good father, had a terrible son, Commodus who was one of the worst emperors. In fact, do you remember the movie, The Gladiator, Russell Crowe.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah.

Pat Helmers:

That guy was Commodus.

Sam Wilcox:

Oh, is it? Oh, right. Okay. Got it. Got it. I did not know that. Interesting.

Pat Helmers:

Yoking Phoenix, right? I think.

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. I know what you’re talking about. He looks evil enough, film as well.

Pat Helmers:

Oh, man. Yes. Oh, yeah. Marcus Aurelius loved his son so much he couldn’t see that as his son was worthless.

Sam Wilcox:

So, we were talking about this.

Pat Helmers:

This was nerdy.

Sam Wilcox:

Hey, this is good. We talk about whatever we want here. This is all good. We were discussing that. And then we were talking about The Tao Te Ching as well, or you brought that up. And then you mentioned that you created a blog in the past called The Tao Te Ching of Sales. Talk to me about that because that’s super interesting that you would even first take The Tao Te Ching, and then everything that represents, and try and even incorporate it into a sales methodology or philosophy. How did that come about? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. I remember reading a business book many, many years ago and it had a quote from Lao-Tze who wrote The Tao Te Ching, and he had a quote, something like great leadership is when the job is done, the people say we did it. And as a manager, I really liked that. I really thought, “That’s great leadership that even though you know you kind of made it happen, everybody else feels like it was us. We’re the ones that got together, and we pulled together, and we tackled this head on, and we were successful.” And I was like, “Wow, that’s just fascinating.” Well, then I started reading more and more about Taoism and found this whole idea of Wu Wei, which means non-action action. So that the things just kind of happen as opposed to you actually take effort to make it happen.

And in selling, that’s definitely what I see what works. Being pushy in selling and trying to put action into it and trying to make it happen and talk people into buying stuff. That doesn’t work. But instead, if you have a point of view of asking questions and being empathetic and try to understand what’s going on. They’re just naturally going to start asking about, “Well, why are you asking? Do you have solutions to my problems? You certainly care about my problems. You’ve asked about my problems, the challenges, maybe you know something. And the sale just naturally comes. There’s no hard close. It’s just a very easy, easy thing. So, I started writing.

Sam Wilcox:

Go on. So, I was just going to say, I suppose that is… It reminds me of this term, which is overused, I think, and sometimes using the wrong way, which is consultative sale, right?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

So, the whole ethos around that, I suppose, is asking questions and stuff. I still think that’s done in a wrong way sometimes. But it sounds like this kind of bakes into that methodology a little bit as well, what you’re talking about there Wu Wei.

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. But sometimes I think consultative selling is just too transactional. It’s not relational enough because it really requires. We talked about hiring a second ago, right? HEAT? It requires people to have it. You genuinely have a mindset of like, “Here, I’m here to help you. Maybe I can help you. Maybe my company, maybe my product or service can help you. Maybe I can’t. Let’s have a conversation and see what it is.” And then there’s empathy. People tell you they got a challenge and you’re going, “Really? Oh, that’s got to suck. Oh, man, that’s awful. God, it’s got to be heartbreaking.” And then you got to be astute. So it requires you to go, “You said you had this problem, and you had said that. Do you ever think about looking at it from a different point of view? And there we go, “Yeah.”

And then the tenacity of just keep asking, just keep asking, and just keep asking, and don’t give up. I mean, in none of this am I asking for a close. It’s a non-action action, and I’m just taking the conversation as it flows. I’m not really treating people as opportunities in a CRM. I’m treating people as people.

Sam Wilcox:

I like that. I like that. I think that plays well into building a business, right? So we talked about startups a little bit earlier on. But even not startups, maybe your business has been going for a couple of years, but you as the CEO or the director is still maybe the main person that’s in charge of sales. And at that point, what I’m getting at here is I think if the CEO or director is the person that’s in charge of sales, they’re much more likely to take that approach than an individual rep is because the CEO and the director know that by approaching a sales situation or a a person to person situation, let’s say, like in the way that you just mentioned what you’re actually trying to get to the bottom of is, is there a fit for us to work together? Not, will you buy this thing? Will you buy this thing? You need this thing, right?

So, the conversation and the way that you’re going about the conversation with that methodology is really trying to get to the authentic reason why there would be a good fit for the two people to work together. Not some bullshit reason that you’re trying to force down someone’s throat. It’s trying to get that authentic connection so that you can actually know that this is good. What we’re selling here is a good fit for this person. It can help them solve this problem. I think a CEO, a sales director would understand that better. Not always, but I think the… than a rep, I was about to say, but I think the challenge then becomes, how do you then instill that methodology into your team of reps at the same time because it’s powerful, right?

That’s part of what people call the founder’s magic when you get into the sales conversation. People like to speak with the founder because they trust that the founder is going to be, yes, there’s a little bit of weight behind the founder’s name, but they also trust that the founder’s got their best interest at heart because it would be bad for them if they didn’t, right? Because nobody wants the client that they don’t want to work with. Does any of that resonate?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. The founder has to get their reps to do this though. So when you make the decision to hire people and bring people on board, your number one job now is to sit in on all the sales calls, and to listen in on any prospecting they’re doing on the phone. You should make sure you have a system where all the calls are being recorded, so you can listen in, and sit in on all the sales meetings. And at the end you need to give… You need to do a post mortem after each one of them and walk the seller through them. And say, “I like how you started here. I’m surprised you said this, you took it in the wrong direction, but I’m glad we came back and you did a great job here. You did a great job here. You could have done it better. Do you hear what they were saying? I don’t think you were hearing. What they were saying made them not qualified.” And because you’re in the room as the founder or whatnot, you can always step in.

And for the most part, you want the sales person to run the meeting and you’re just some person in the back, but I do these big legal sheets of paper, and I’m just writing all these notes. And after the meeting, then we all sit down and we walk through it. And you do that three, four, five times people learn.

Sam Wilcox:

I think people don’t do that enough nowadays.

Pat Helmers:

That’s your job. This is the biggest problem sales managers have is they somehow think that commissions are going to make people work hard and do the right thing. This whole commission-based process that we have for sellers is just goofy. It just makes no sense. It makes for bad behaviors. It makes for lazy sales managers who think they don’t have to deal with it, right? That people are all motivated by. And that somehow sellers are a different species than everybody else. We don’t put firemen on commissions. We don’t put police departments and teachers on commissions. We don’t put doctors and nurses. Think of all the other professions out there that are not on commissions, and they all do great professional jobs in. And how do we know who’s the good people and the bad people, know how to pay people? We do performance reviews, and we understand what the metrics are for great people, and we’re constantly evaluating people on them, and coaching people on them.

Great sales managers are coaches, they’re teachers. I like to think of them. They’re great teachers. And they’re very involved in their people and they just don’t have this idea. People are only motivated by money, which is not true, especially millennials, especially Gen Zs. They’re not going to be motivated by this. They’re motivated by something richer and deeper.

Sam Wilcox:

So, that’s the challenge. You’re trying to figure out how you can connect on that level with the sales reps. Now your business can play a part in.

Pat Helmers:

This is great leadership. This is Tao’s thing, right? You want the people to say, “We did it.” You want them to act in a way how you would approach it, how you would see it. So, it becomes a part of them. That’s what true leadership is. You create a vision. And in fact, if you hire some people who are better than you, you want to hire people who are even better sellers than you are, or better marketers, or better engineers, or customer support people, and this is the way, this is how you scale a business. This is how you make for true success. Yeah.

Sam Wilcox:

I agree. I like that philosophy. I like the philosophy of Taoism bringing that into sales. I like to think that I do that in sales calls, but who knows? I’m sure I slip up from time to time, but I think that-

Pat Helmers:

We’re all human.

Sam Wilcox:

Right. I like to think though that as you mentioned it before, in terms of what that means to you, The Tao of Sales, and I think I embody that quite well. If I’m going to toot my own horn for a little minute though. But yeah, I can see how. If I had to be critical of myself, I don’t think that I’ve done a good enough job of teaching others how to do that. Partly because maybe there’s a lack of awareness that that was even what’s going on.

So, maybe there’s an awareness piece that’s at play in here in terms of how this plays out that people should try and think about as well. If you’re listening to this, how do you manage your sales process? How do you approach your sales calls? How are you extracting the information out of your prospects and potential customers? and what are the good things about that? And what are the things that are not so good about that? And how can you then trickle that down to your team members and make sure that they’re not abiding by those rules, but following those same values. Yeah, I think that’s about right. What do you think?

Pat Helmers:

Yeah. I’m looking here to explain what these look like. I just pulled one up here.

Sam Wilcox:

What’s this?

Pat Helmers:

Lao-Tze wrote, he wrote these little poems. They’re almost like little poems that are about how the world works. That’s what Taoism is about. It’s how things work, the way, the way things work. So I wrote one here, and this goes, “To purchase a new coat, the buyer must first try it on. Reflecting on the style and the color, they view it from all angles looking to see if it will fit their needs. The master seller knows some coats fit, some do not. They have no desire on their own. They dwell in reality. If they can help, they will. If not, they leave it alone.”

Sam Wilcox:

Beautiful. And on that note, my friend, I think we can wrap this one up.

Pat Helmers:

How long have we been talking? For a while.

Sam Wilcox:

I think we’ve been going for 45 minutes or so. I love that. Did you write all of these? Did you write all of these? So, anybody that’s still listening at Tao, Tao teaching, T-A-O.

Pat Helmers:

Pronounced with a D.

Sam Wilcox:

Pronounced with a D. So, it sounds like Dow, but it’s actually spelled Tao. So, T-A-O teachingofsales.com, and you can see Pat’s, I think there’s about five, six, seven, eight. There’s about eight different poems here.

Pat Helmers:

There’s 80 of them in there.

Sam Wilcox:

Oh, 80 in total?

Pat Helmers:

Maybe more.

Sam Wilcox:

Oh, wow.

Pat Helmers:

I just, these are just some of the top ones. There’s a ton of them in there.

Sam Wilcox:

Well, go check that out guys. That’s awesome. Oh, you said you were going to be, I’m putting you on the spot here. We’re getting some commitment on your part. You’re going to be turning this into a book at some point soon, right?

Pat Helmers:

I am. I’m working on it right now, actually.

Sam Wilcox:

Awesome.

Pat Helmers:

My plan is to get it done by the end of the year. It’s one of my 2021 goals. I’m a big goal setting guy.

Sam Wilcox:

I like it. Well, we’ll have you back on the show if you’d be willing to spend a third hour with me at some point in the future.

Pat Helmers:

Will you record that one?

Sam Wilcox:

Yeah. We’re good. All right, Pat. Well, listen, let’s wrap this one up here. Guys, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you in the next one.

Pat Helmers:

We’ll see y’all. Take care.

Sam Wilcox:

Thank you, my friend. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time today.

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