Ep070 – Managing Remote Sales Teams with Derek Rahn of Lead Genius

With the rise of digital entrepreneurs came the need to have virtual teams. Finding remote employees and getting them on board is one part of the equation. Then comes the time to start managing them.

Today, our guest is Derek Rahn. He is the VP of Sales over at Lead Genius. Derek manages his own sales remote team, he lives in Las Vegas and his team is elsewhere. LeadGenius is a data curation service that works with the world’s best B2B organizations.

In this episode, we’ll be talking about:

  • Managing and training your remote team
  • What are the challenges in managing your own remote team
  • How you can approach your outbound
  • Why customer service representative make such good sales people

Sales reps need to establish expertise and build trust quickly and with every interaction.

When sales reps are on a call with a customer, they need to think like customer-service reps. They must be empathetic and hear what the customer has to say and use active listening. If they have a problem, what solution can the sales rep provide?

As a sales rep, you need to know exactly what the customer wants, needs and desires.

Managing your own remote team is very challenging. Systematizing a meaningful process, monitoring your team and keeping track of the work process is much harder than at an office. However, by having the right communication strategy and reliable collaborative tools will allow ultimate productivity.

You can enable your team to thrive by supporting their affinity to specific expectations or assisting them to harness their unique strengths that will help you reach the company vision sooner.

Mentioned in this episode:

Salesloft

Outreach

LinkedIn

Daniel Pink

Funnel Source


Full Episode Transcription

Liston W.:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners, and sales people looking to have more and better conversations with your perfect clients. You’ll get a healthy scoop of psychology, behavioral economics, and sales studies to help you create win/win relationships. I’m your host, Liston Witherill, and I’m pleased to welcome you to Modern Sales. If you’re looking for a great way to piss someone off, and to sour your relationship with them, and to lose them as a friend, all you have to do is get their name wrong repeatedly. That’s it. Simple as that. Just keep saying the wrong name. Some people will react more strongly to this than others, but I think what you’ll find is universally if you keep calling people by the wrong name, they are not going to like you. Shocker. Right? Shocker. You’re really surprised by this.

Liston W.:
Well, think about all of the other personal tidbits and pieces of information you know about people. If you start repeatedly getting those wrong as well, they’re not gonna like you very much either. That is the key challenge with personalization in your outreach in your sales. On the one hand, when you reach out to people, you don’t wanna be so personalized as to come off as being a total creep. On the other hand, you want to be personalized enough, so that they understand you put some time into thinking about this, and there’s a clear reason for you to reach out to them, and of course you get their damn name right. Please get their name right. That’s all you have to do as table stakes.

Liston W.:
Today, I’m switching it up a little bit. I’m bringing you an interview episode, trying something new here. I haven’t done an interview in a couple months on Modern Sales, but I am very excited to bring this one to you. Today, my guest is the VP of sales over at LeadGenius.com. His name is Derek Rahn. He manages a remote team. He’s in Las Vegas. His team is elsewhere, and so he’s gonna bring some information about managing remote teams, what some of the challenges are that come along with that, how to approach your outbound, since his company is in such a unique position to give information about that. Towards the end we’re also gonna talk about why customer service reps make such good sales people. I’m really excited to bring you this episode. I enjoyed my conversation with Derek, and I’m sure you will too. Now, my conversation with Derek Rahn of Lead Genius.

Liston W.:
So, Derek, one thing that I find really interesting about you is you work for Lead Genius, and you have a sales team in California, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the Midwest, and you don’t live in any of those places. Before we started recording, you were telling me that one of the big challenges is coaching and mentoring your team remotely, and something is lost in this remote management situation. What is it?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. I think sometimes it’s really just a matter of impressing the importance of kind of a specific task onto a remote person. One of the advantages you get when you sit with people day to day in the same office, sharing the same water cooler, and having lunchtime interactions and conversations, there’s a lot of knowledge transfer that happens just fluidly through people observing, through people watching you work, watching their peers work, and gaining that knowledge almost in a tribal sense. Right? I mean, you can have great documentation of process. You can have everything from flow charts, and Google docs, and a plethora of information that’s shared throughout the team about best practices, but sales reps really learn by mirroring and imitating the best of that group. Right?

Derek Rahn:
So, when you’re managing remote people, it’s hard to take a rep in Boston that’s doing really, really great and a rep in California that maybe is first getting started and coordinate that knowledge transfer, that team share. It’s also challenging to sometimes impress the importance of certain best practices or certain habits on a remote team, because unless you’re sitting next to them, and you can look in their eyes, and say, “Do you understand me on this subject?”, something can be lost in the digital presence.

Derek Rahn:
So, I think that one of the important things is to create a holistic learning environment that doesn’t just rely on sharing good calls, sharing best practices, sharing calls of the week, which is what we do, but also that allows reps to sit in and work deals sometimes together in our enterprise organization, so that they understand, “Hey. This has been really effective in messaging to these types of customer,” and then they can hear it, and they can see it, and it’s not just a knowledge transfer doc and, “Say this,” because, “Say this,” is not really what it’s about. It’s about, “Understand this about your customer. Understand this about what they’re trying to solve for.” Really only hearing that and having that transfer of, “Aha. I get it. I get what that question was about,” is gonna drive home the value of certain tasks, especially in our business. I think that goes for everyone who does consultative sales, who’s not just selling a widget.

Liston W.:
So, because people are remote, do you find you’re having to dedicate a higher percentage of time to train, and mentor, and coach them, as opposed to if you were all in one single place?

Derek Rahn:
Oh. For sure. I think that I’ve been blessed in a lot of my sales career to have a team that’s actually in the same place that I live, and it’s just like lets just do shadowing. Just come and plug in. Come and jack in. Right? It’s a lot easier to do that. It’s a lot easier to correct behavior, because you have that first person, you have that one-on-one touch. The reality is that most people aren’t just gonna learn something the first time that they hear it. It’s through consistent exposure and it’s through consistent … especially with breaking bad habits and acquiring good ones.

Derek Rahn:
If you have a piece of misinformation in your head, it’s gonna take hearing that right, correct information like seven or eight times in order for you to kind of get rid of the bad information that exists in your knowledge transfer. So, I think that that’s one of the challenges with remote people is that you have to consistently drill that message. You have to consistently re-inform and change the behavior. Doing that when you have a dozen sales reps throughout the country is really time consuming.

Derek Rahn:
Now, we try to do things from a call sharing standpoint that I think most organization do, sharing best practices, sharing phenomenal calls, sharing calls that didn’t go so well, and then showing the corrective action oh how to get the right attributes out of the call. They’re the right thing to happen as a consequence, but it’s doubled my training time from what I was doing in terms of actual designated training time when I had a team in office to having a remote team. It’s double.

Liston W.:
Oh. Interesting. Okay. So, you’ve definitely lost some of the efficiency. We talked about that in the pre-call. One of the benefits of having remote teams is maybe lower real estate costs, big talent pool, different cost of living in each of these locations, but you also lose efficiency, which sounds like you’re finding is pretty significant.

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. Especially from a management layer perspective. We have a setup in our business where I’m supported by a sales ops person, actually two sales ops people. So, you know, a lot of this stuff we have recorded in terms of trainings. We use a specific technology stack. We use some tool sets. We obviously use our own software in order to empower the outreach of our sales reps, whether they’re STRs or AEs. So, some of the training there, like we’ve obviously built training and a curriculum that allows people to get on-board, but getting on-board and being an effective seller are two different things. Right?

Derek Rahn:
You can be on-boarded and have the knowledge that you need in order to perform your job, but carrying it out and executing with a high level of efficiency, and an uplift is another completely different subject. It’s the difference between having headcount and having ramped headcount that’s actually contributing. So, I think that one of the things that we try to emphasize as a business is doing a deal [inaudible 00:08:35] or doing a deal analysis with those reps, just talk about where deals are and how to get them forward. Usually that’s just done through one-on-one contact, whereas previously we’ve been able to do kind of pipeline meetings, just an overall pipeline meeting when everyone’s in the same room, because everyone’s talking about their deals with each other and sharing knowledge.

Derek Rahn:
Now it has to be a concerted effort in order to actually surface this conversation, because Salesforce only tells you so much. We have good stages and good … We have an excellent Salesforce in terms of the overall integrity of it, and we’re able to actually drill down to 5% accuracy on what we’re gonna hit every quarter, because our stages and our probability to close is so accurate. But to get above that accuracy and to get to actually blowing out a number takes that one-on-one coaching, takes that hands on approach, and it takes a lot of time if you don’t have good systems in place.

Liston W.:
One thing I find that I think is interesting is doing call reviews, especially in the appointment setting or the early stages of a sale, is pretty straightforward, especially you mentioned in the survey that I sent you that you guys used SalesLoft. I’m guessing you use Gong or something like it to record calls and sort of figure out what’s going on on the calls. But the deals we really care about, the big ones, the really big, complicated ones that involve tons of stakeholders and tons of internal resources for you guys, those are really hard to measure, and those are hard to prepare people for every situation. I’m wondering, what is your approach in those more complex deals? Because somewhat paradoxically, the training goes to the easy stuff, because it’s easier to document, and the harder stuff is really where the money’s made, but it’s so hard to prepare people. So, what is your approach to that?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. We actually do have some triggers set up inside of our Salesforce for these complexity of deals, and we measure that somewhat by engagement and how many people on the other side are interacting, because we really sell into multiple buying centers. Obviously if we have multiple buying centers engaged in a conversation, usually the deal size is gonna be bigger. That’s an early indicator, and then actually as we move the deal along from prospect, to demo, to evaluation, the sales reps are updating the information about what the monthly recurring revenue with the average deal size is. Basically, any deal that is above a certain threshold, that basically makes it six figures, myself or another executive sponsor are brought in on.

Derek Rahn:
The reason that we’re brought in on them is because there are so many niche use cases. There are so many different ways that they could deploy Lead Genius as a service that it’s impossible for every sales rep to know every possible outcome or every possible revenue team that they could attribute to or help. So, having kind of a senior leadership, like we have several people that came from the data space who know what it is like to actually build these revenue funnels and tech stacks, is really the only way that we can solve for that, and then documenting those. We have a full document of interesting use cases that talk about what we do.

Derek Rahn:
Then the other thing that we’ve done is we’ve done a verticalization or account mapping by actual verticals. That helps people to understand how HR companies use us, how payment tech use us, how healthcare companies us us. Because there’s nothing new underneath the sun. Everyone’s kind of following someone else’s playbook in many ways. Right? We really focus on getting people in a territory where they can sell [inaudible 00:12:13] deals, that they … to similar personas or buyers, because they’re solving the same ones. For a finance company the problems that they’re solving is very different than someone who’s in healthcare and the problem that they’re solving.

Derek Rahn:
So, there is some verticalization, some specialization that we do in order to make sure that those reps are just having the right types of conversations and that they don’t always need me or another senior management team there to get expertise on. Six months in the job they should be able to tell every use case for a specific vertical or help to explore new ones and bring those to the forefront for their customers. It just helps to manage their how much knowledge they can actually have on a subject, and rinse and repeat, so there’s scalability in the model.

Liston W.:
Well, and it seems like enablement is a big part of that too. Right? They should be able to know exactly where can I call up? What are some of the use cases of healthcare companies versus Fintech, versus Martek, versus versus? Right?

Derek Rahn:
For sure.

Liston W.:
In addition to having the executive sponsor, because to your point, if no individual can know every single use case for Lead Genius, or any product for that matter, neither can any executive sponsor, I would think.

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. I mean, for sure. Our executive team all comes from different backgrounds, so you’re absolutely right. Myself, I came from the payroll and HR space. Then I came from the web space after that. So, you know, even my range of knowledge is limited. When someone starts talking healthcare, my eyes glaze over. You’re absolutely right in that regard, that creating these paths and this curriculum, not only in how we orchestrate our named account approach, but also how we teach people and train people on relevant use cases is the only way that we’ve been able to scale the sales organization. Before, when it was territory based, it was … again, you were trying to be a master of everything, and you end up being the master of none.

Liston W.:
So, I want to focus now on personalization. This is kind of your jam. Right?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah.

Liston W.:
I have a lot to say about personalization or probably more to ask than to say about it. My question starts with something you said in the survey. You said it’s the age of personalization and data saturation, and the problem now isn’t too little data. It’s too much data. So, my question to you is where do I start in terms of thinking about how much personalization to do in my outbound efforts? Because it can be paralyzing to think that I need so much that I can never have enough, and on the other side some people just go, “Well, fuck it. I’ll send out 2 million emails that are all the same and see what happens.” Obviously we need to find that nice middle ground, the Goldilocks version of that. So, how do you think about that challenge?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. So, it has to be thought about from an ideal customer profile standpoint. What I mean is that personalization can work on small business. It can work on enterprise. It can work on mid-market, but what’s gonna resonate in each one of those centers is different, because those buyers are of different levels of sophistication. Right? And they’re of different levels of education. Right? And different things are gonna resonate. To the spray and pray mentality of the early 2000s, I will say that your days are numbers. Buyers, the amount of email communication alone that happens to people, the amount of robo =-calls that happens to people alone is making people close up, is making people really, really create these harsh filters on who they’ll even give the time of day to. So, I don’t think that emailing 200 records that you bought or that sit inside your database is gonna yield a whole lot. I don’t think it’s gonna yield-

Liston W.:
Oh. You’re being generous, sir.

Derek Rahn:
Well, that’s what I’m saying.

Liston W.:
It’ll be lower than that. Yeah.

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. That’s the whole point is that from a brand perspective, I have a marketing degree, and so I’m a sales person that thinks about marketing, as opposed to most sales people are like, “The hell with marketing. I just need to go out and build this myself.”

Liston W.:
Kick down some doors.

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. Exactly. The big thing that I think about is what engagements are we having? What engagements are you having? How does that actually impact your brand? How does it impact your ability later on to have a conversation with someone that you actually wanna have a conversation with? Have you actually sullied yourself by the spray and pray method that ill literally either get you in a spam box or get you on someone’s do not talk to list, because you’ve literally ruined any integrity that you might have from a solution standpoint. So, personalization I think is really about actually doing the exercise of, okay, if I’m the buyer ], what do I live? What’s important to me? What am I trying to solve for? What keeps me up at night? What is the difference in my opinion between a good solution and a bad solution? Right?

Derek Rahn:
So, you could spend a lot of money trying to personalize to every single person out there, and I don’t think that’s what it’s about. I don’t think it’s about personalizing to every single person. I think it’s about looking at your customer base, your named account base. I think it’s about looking at your top two or three personas inside of an account and saying, “What is it that we do as a business that differentiates us? What is it about this person that differentiates them from their peers?”, to be able to curate a message that says, “The reason that I’m contacting you is I actually think that I can solve something for you. The directional indicator or the data point that I used to find that is this.”

Derek Rahn:
If you can just surface that information to someone, you’re already so far ahead of what the mass is doing, what the general population is doing. You’re gonna see improvements in efficiency. You’re gonna see improvements in open rates. You’re gonna see improvements in actual calls being scheduled, discovery calls. As long as your persona mapping is on and you actually know what your value proposition is, you’re gonna see an increase in your funnel creation that’s actually fluid throughout the entire funnel, meaning more deals being closed.

Liston W.:
I’m wondering, are you leading with the problem typically? Because it sounds like you’re saying, okay, people in this group, they’re likely to have this small set of problems, like they fall within a range. Right? Are you leading with a problem, or are you leading with like, “Hey. We’re the best at personalization”?

Derek Rahn:
I think that leading with, “We’re the best in personalization,” is kind of a challenging message to the masses. I think that what we tend to use is a lot of social proof. Right? Being able to say actually build out persona buckets and say, “You look like this person at Salesforce. You look like this person at Google who had this challenge. Correct me if I’m wrong, or point me in the right direction of the person who is inside your organization who faces those challenges, but that’s why they used us. That’s why they went with us. I would love to have a conversation around your needs there, and if we can help you, great.” Right? And also not trying to be everything to everyone. Right?

Derek Rahn:
Personalization is so broad that it could be everything to everyone. There is a time and a place for personalization. It doesn’t belong in every sales process. It doesn’t belong in every outreach cadence, but what we have seen is if you have product to market fit, and you understand your buyers and what they’re going through, and you have a distinct difference in what you offer from a solution standpoint, then that personalization really makes the difference in hitting a number and blowing one out.

Liston W.:
Now, you mentioned earlier consultative selling. From your website it looks like you guys are mainly providing data, bu are you also providing a service layer to that?

Derek Rahn:
We do. We do provide a service layer to that. It’s how we’re architected as an actual team. It’s actually how we’re set up as a fulfillment organization. So, at the end of the day a customer is getting data from us, but what we do in order to actually curate that data is pull from the public web, pull from public sources, pull from partner data, and then we’re actually curating the information that that customer needs in order to execute their specific playbook. So, it’s not about here’s access to a data lake of 30 million records, and find what you want.

Derek Rahn:
For us it’s about tell me the plays you’re running. Tell me the campaign you’re running. Tell me about the 5,000 customer or 5000 prospects that you want to penetrate this quarter, and what your playbook looks like, and what data is needed there. Do you need social data, so you can do Twitter retargeting? Do you need a physical address, so you can send them a thank you note, a piece of mail? And building data around meaningful use, as opposed to building data to be resold over, and over, and over again to ever buyer. That’s why people partner with us. It’s because they’re really looking for effect. Right? Actually deliverability, and not just email deliverability. That’s like we’re so far past that as a culture. Right? You can have 97% email deliverability and have crappy campaign effectiveness. It’s about having the right data to actually convey your message, and take your playbook, and enact it with effect.

Liston W.:
Now, I would think that that’s a double edged sword, to have the service layer. On the one hand, you’re clearly offering more service, more customization, expertise to come along with access to this data. On the other hand, people are like, “The problem with selling all services, how do I know it’s good? It’s not tangible. I don’t really know until I invest time, and there’s an opportunity cost to that.” How do you think about pitching and selling that service layer when you’re in the sales process?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. I think that the real thing is you have to give people an understanding of a true analysis of what their current situation is and what their current circumstance is from a cost perspective, because one of the things that we deal with is you’ve got bulk data providers out there that are sending people records for 10 cents a record. The danger with that type of data is that unless you can really segment, and pivot, and extract what you want out of that data set, you’re drowning your team in data, and they don’t know where to start. They can’t possibly be effective, because they’re spending so much time finding the 2% of gold in this mountain of data than if you actually just arm them with the information that they need.

Derek Rahn:
We do a lot of cost analysis with people, talking about what their internal head count looks like, how much they pay those people, how much their time is spent currently mining for data outside of their systems. Right? Like the actual data admin cost. The thing is whether you’re in Salt Lake City, or whether you’re in Silicon Valley, or whether you’re running a shop overseas, your biggest cost as a team is usually in your people. Your biggest investment is usually in the hourly wage or the salary your paying them, their healthcare, and all of their benefits, et cetera. Right?

Derek Rahn:
So, to be able to say, “Hey. 30% of your rep’s day is spent in literally being a data admin.” If we’re able to take 75% of that off their plate and leave them with only 5% of their day that they actually have to do, because some stuff’s always gonna be internal, there’s always gonna be a certain amount of pre-call planning. Nothing can be fully automated. I’m completely cognizant of that, but if you can take away 20% of that time and give it to actual revenue generation, the uplift follows. I can make 20% more calls. I can do 20% more demos. I can create 20% more pipeline. As long as they’re not taking extra water breaks or smoking cigarettes in the parking lot and they’re actually using that time to actually improve their metrics, and their life, and their paycheck, again, the ROI cases is really very solid there.

Derek Rahn:
The other thing is about thinking about it from a standpoint of campaign effectiveness. Again, most people, because of Marketo and marketing automation systems … You can’t just store every record that you want. There’s a cost of storing data. There’s a cost of storing bad data. There’s a cost of actioning on bad data, like sending a direct mail piece to a customer that is out of business has a hard cost. So, people that have run campaigns and people that understand what effectiveness is and what success is can immediately see uplift. They can immediately say, “Oh. I delivered 20% more packages. Therefore I got 20% more MQLs. Therefore I created 20% more pipeline, and it’s fluid throughout.”

Derek Rahn:
So, it’s an easy justification to make, but it’s a big leap of faith, because you’re right. Service layers, it’s like why would I trust you as an extension of my team? It’s really about talking about our pedigree and our experience to help these Fortune Five companies do this. That usually is that, and we connect a lot of people. Right? We act as connections to people. We know people as SalesLoft. We know people at Outreach. We know people have these other tools. So, it’s not just being a resource when it comes to our data, but also how to use our data.

Derek Rahn:
We have a lot of professional network that are best in class people, like [inaudible 00:24:39]. That’s a Bay Area [inaudible 00:24:41]. We often have to just say, “Hey. We’re not subject matter experts in that area, but these are the top three people you should be talking to if you wanna tackle this problem.” Doing that really is what kind of differentiates us as we’re agnostic. We want you to get the most out of your funnel, as opposed to spending the most on data.

Liston W.:
Now, I have to ask you a question that I ask everybody I’ve interviewed in lead gen or demand gen, and that is you’ve pointed out that the days of spray and pray are gone. Right? So, thank you, Aaron Ross, for killing that and for filling my inbox. We all know. The word’s out on that. People have tried it. Basically, we don’t pay attention to those. We tune them out, just like ad blindness online. Right? Better yet, I have Ghostery installed, so I don’t even see the ads when I’m online. A similar thing’s gonna happen. We’re gonna get to the point where our inbox just starts to filter things out. It’s already happening, as we go forward. My question to you is how do you see outbound sales evolving, given that basically the cheap, easy things are all so competitive now that they’re no longer cheap and easy, and it’s going to be this ratcheting up of difficulty and investment, and probably increasing cost of sale? So, how do you see that evolving?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. We’ve reached this kind of inflection point. There’s the law of diminishing returns, especially for companies on scale, where they’ve got 400 sales reps and a huge potential addressable market. So, it is this counterbalance of, okay, if I’m gonna pay 20% more for good data, then my uplift over the campaign that was running without good data better be 25, 30, 40%, because I’ve gotta make that cost back and have a business case internally, so I don’t get fired. Right? So, I think that there is a growing need for operational teams, operational titles, like we run our business like … I have a right hand person named Adam [Lewy 00:26:37]. He literally runs my entire organization not because he’s actually making the tactical decisions, but because he’s empowering me with data to actually make the tactical decisions on what to deploy and what not to deploy.

Derek Rahn:
That’s why you’re seeing these titles. Data ops people, they used to be data ops people, not sales ops people, not marketing ops people. Right? So, part of this is the need to raise and level the organization up in order to cut through the clutter. It’s also the reason you’ve seen the types of campaigns, the types of outreach kind of do these waves in fashion. Right? Like bell bottoms coming in and out of trend every 30 years. Right? Et cetera. We’re gonna see JNC Jeans here become really popular again, after skinny jeans [inaudible 00:27:20] following this trend line.

Liston W.:
It’s happening, my friend. Yeah. The 90s are coming back.

Derek Rahn:
T90s are coming back. Right. The 80s are in right now. I’ve got a bunch of shirts in my closet to tell you that. Then the 90s are gonna come back in style as well. What you’ve seen is more and more of a focus on direct dials. For a long time direct dials disappeared from the landscape. People were like, “I just gotta send these emails. If I just send enough emails, I can get enough appointments. I’m just gonna …” Again, everyone started sending emails, and then that became less and less effect. Then, again, the diminishing returns of that investment are really we’re there. Right?

Derek Rahn:
We’re at saturation point, and so direct dials were becoming a big piece. Now, it’s not just about direct dials, because there’s in this timeframe where things go ina and out like direct mail, popular again. Companies like PFL and Sendoso are making a living, and those are partners of ours, because they use our data to affect the effectiveness of our campaigns. So, I think that you’re gonna see the methods shift. I still think that social selling, it’s not really being done correctly. It’s only kind of partially reached its potential, but again, I think you’re just gonna see the knobs that people turn in order to get responses just continue to change to get that differentiation.

Derek Rahn:
“Oh. This person sent me a personal note. Okay. You’ve actually separated yourself from all the assholes who are sending me emails, that are just bombarding me with an opt out clause.” Right? You’ve already separated yourself in some way, shape, or form. If you’re selling a product that also separates itself, you’re probably in a pretty good position. So, again, I’m not trying to say we need to go back to the days of UPS and sending mail to everyone, but I do think that that differentiation is really critically important, and that’s what top class organizations are doing. They’re finding the ways to go where their clients want to be talked to.

Liston W.:
All right. You may have just dug yourself into a hole, but I wanna hear what you have to say about socia selling not even scratching the surface of being sort of optimized or where it could be.

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. I mean, I think that one of the challenges in sales organizations is having the data that you need to actually execute a playbook and actually have a playbook that you know gets returns. Go back to that sales ops piece. So, it’s funny, because you can reach out to somebody on LinkedIn, and because of the way the in mails are structured and because of the way people use social selling, I think, again, it’s really, really diminishing returns. But what I have seen be of impact and effect is if you have something like, “Hey. You’re involved in this cause, and that’s a cool cause, and I care about that cause, and I’ve love to talk to you about how I could be an impact there,” and connecting on a personal level, not bullshit, but actually connecting with somebody on a personal level, whether that’s about where they’re from, where they’ve been, where they’re going, what’s important to them.

Derek Rahn:
I think a lot of that lives in social data, and I think that being able to triangulate that person as a person, to that person as a business person, to that entity is really where social selling needs to go. It can’t just be glistened by looking at LinkedIn. You can’t just look at someone’s LinkedIn profile and say, “This is who they are,” but you can start a conversation saying, “Hey. I think this is who you are, and this is why that’s important to me, and this is what I’d actually like to start a dialogue around.” I think that doing it that way, instead of just the … because in mail’s being used in LinkedIn just like bulk mail is being used to spray and pray. Right? There’s no personalization.

Liston W.:
Well, it’s direct response marketing typically is what I see.

Derek Rahn:
Exactly.

Liston W.:
They’re like, “Hey. I got this thing. You wanna talk to me?” That’s pretty much it. Now, I will say though, this is one of the objections I get when I tell people what you’ve just said. I mostly agree with you, like 95%, but the one thing I will say is it is a little disingenuous to contact someone on LinkedIn and say like, “Hey. You know, I’m reaching out because of this thing about you personally. We went to the same grad school. We grew up in the same town,” whatever. Right? But that’s not really why I’m getting ahold of you. I only care about that because you are in a position that I think I can help. How do you walk that line with social selling? I personally am asking selfishly, because I think it’s tricky. If I’m reaching out to people, and I am like, “Hey. I’m curious,” sometimes they’re like, “Just tell me what you want.” Other times when I just tell them what I want, they’re like, “What the hell, man? This is spam. Get out of my inbox.” It’s hard to understand what the line is to walk.

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. You know, I think the biggest thing for me is just because we have … email communication has dehumanized us.

Liston W.:
Indeed. Well, the internet has in general. Yeah.

Derek Rahn:
The internet has in general. We could have a beer and have a bigger conversation about where we’re going as a culture and everything else-

Liston W.:
Yes, sir.

Derek Rahn:
… but let’s just keep it to the sales [inaudible 00:32:11] today. I think that the important thing is to humanize yourself as a seller, because people, they truly do … I think that most people have bought from me because they liked who I am, and they trusted me, more than they necessarily even liked the product I was selling. That’s just my entire sales career. Right? In order to establish trust you do have to have a certain amount of sincerity. If you go and say, “Hey, bro. I see that you went to University of Arizona. Really cool. I went there too. Bear down,” that’s gonna turn a certain set of the population off. It just naturally is going to.

Derek Rahn:
So, it has to be done mindfully. It has to be done tactfully, but you’re also playing a percentage game, just like you are when you do cold email out reach and what you’re making the bet on and what you have to be able to measure is that the positive attribute, the positive uplift of doing that is of greater impact than the negative attribute or negative shift. Right? It’s all a game of benefits versus cost. So, again, like I said, I think that people that have done personalization … I’ll give you an example of a customer.

Derek Rahn:
We have a customer in the payment [inaudible 00:33:15] space who sells to SMB, specifically to quick service restaurants in SMB. The way that they broke down the noise barrier is by talking about popular menu items or wards that that business had won, and they put it in the first sentence of their outreach, and their positive response rates, not just response rates, but positive response rates went up 250% with that data point, compared to the previous email, because it resonated with the person, because that person who’s on the other side is a small business owner. They’re usually a chef, and they care about, they take pride in what they produce and put out there in the world. So, you just gotta find what is important to people and what they care about putting out into the world. If you do that along that psyche, it’s not always gonna work. There’s no silver bullet, but is it gonna work better than spamming the shit out of people? Yeah. Probably.

Liston W.:
Totally. I mean, I’ll keep it real here and break the fourth wall. Right? The reason we’re having this conversation is because I found you on LinkedIn. I sent you a message that was highly relevant. I have a podcast that’s highly relevant, and I said, “Hey. I’d love to have you on. Here’s why,” and here we are. I agree with you. I think it can work. One thing that I think is so interesting about people in general and definitely true for me is I can get 20 positive responses, and you get that one nasty one. Right? And you’re like, “Oh my god. Why? Why do you ave to be like that?”

Derek Rahn:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I also think that this is what dissuades people from doing this and doing this on scale is that they get that one nasty gram, and it’s like the one bad restaurant review. It doesn’t matter that there’s 50 Yelpers before that loved everything they do. They had one person who had a bad day who decided to take it out on them online. I think we’ve become so fragile in that way. The internet age has definitely made us more fragile as being able to take constructive criticism, instead of being able to say like, “Hey. Look at the 44 positive responses I got,” what they immediately focus on sales reps, is, “Aw, man. Look at this nasty note that I got, Derek.” It’s like, “Yeah, but how much pipeline did you create from that messaging before that? Oh. You mean it’s been better than what you’ve done before.”

Derek Rahn:
Again, it’s really easy to get caught up in the nastiness, in that one negative tweet or that one negative response, but I think you have to look at things as a macrocosm and like the macro of what you’re doing from an outbound, and you’re gonna break some eggs. You’re making a sales omelet. You’re gonna break some eggs. It’s not possible to do it any other way. So, I think people just have that lens that nothing is ever gonna be perfect.

Liston W.:
Totally. I’m just laughing because I’ve been there. Right? It’s just funny, because it’s really hard for most of us to not be affected by the negative. It’s obviously a big quality in high performing sales people is resilience. Right? We’re not so affected by things. We can kind of bounce back as they happen. All right, sir. Well, you have been very, very open about what’s going on internally with your company and kind of what you’re working on. I have a few quick hitting questions for you. What I one single book that you recommend?

Derek Rahn:
That’s really, really tough. I love Daniel Pink as an author just in general. I think that just I’ve had a lot of people that I’ve turned into sales reps that didn’t think they were sales reps. Right? I look at especially with where sales is going, it’s really relationship management, and building value, and building trust. I have taken people in the customer success organization who where like, “Oh. I really hate sales,” and I’m like, “Okay. Well, read this book. Read To Sell is Human.” All of a sudden they realize that they are a sales person, that that’s like with their interactions with their spouses or just how they interact with the world, that it’s all sales in a way.” So, I love that book just from the standpoint that I’ve used it to actually recruit people from other lines of business who didn’t think they were sales people. Some of the best sales people I’ve ever had in any organize have been people who didn’t consider themselves to be sales people.

Liston W.:
Okay. So, people who odont consider themselves to be sales people, what would you say is the most important quality for a sales person, given today’s climate of selling?

Derek Rahn:
So, I think that the most important thing would be to ask a relative and a somewhat provocative question that actually makes people go into their personal life, go into their day-to-day, go into their actual problems, go into their actual workflow, and then listen actively, and relate that problem to an aspirational solution of somewhere that they should want to go as a business. By doing that, by listening, by active listening, and by building trust, and building that thought leadership, you don’t have to be the stickler, closer guy. You don’t have to be super resilient. You just have to know how to ask the right questions

Derek Rahn:
Again, that’s why I found a lot of good sales people that they didn’t consider themselves salesy. It’s like no, but you’re a good listener. You’re a sincere person. Right? The sincerity piece is really critical. You actually care about solving people’s problems. That’s why I’ve had a lot of success with customer success people is that they truly usually are driven by how do I fix this? So, I think that when I look at what I’m looking for from a skillset, is can you analyze? Can you actually ask an open ended question, take what they’ve given you, and expound on it, and make it a conversation that’s mutual and that that person sees benefit in solving?

Liston W.:
All right now, Derek. I want all the listeners to know I didn’t put Derek up to that, but he just basically said what my training is all about, so thank you for doing that on my behalf. I really appreciate it. Okay. So, next fast question for you. What is one tool that you recommend and can’t live without within your sales organization?

Derek Rahn:
Ah, man.

Liston W.:
You can make it two?

Derek Rahn:
Can I say my sales ops guy? No.

Liston W.:
Sure.

Derek Rahn:
I mean, all kidding aside, there’s a bunch of outreach tools. There’s Outreach. There’s SalesLoft. There’s Groove, which is a tool that we actually use internally. That’s a great tool about building cadences and keeping people on task. But I look at it from the standpoint of actually being able to do good funnel analysis and be able to actually know where things are, know when deals are stuck. So, I actually use a tool called FunnelSource that our CEO recommended to us. It sits on to of Salesforce. There’s a lot of these. There’s a lot of insight tools or kind of dashboard tools that I think are really, really beneficial, but I love the ability to look stage by stage at people’s pipeline to review it with them very quickly.

Derek Rahn:
Pipeline analysis or pipeline calls can take a long time with reps, especially when you’ve got remote reps to go deal by deal. But to be able to flag things and be able to say, “Hey. This deal is at this stage, and it’s basically a churn risk, or you’re at risk of basically losing this deal based on cycle length and historicals,” for us is such a better way to manage the business, because you’re focusing on the 10% of deals you should be focusing on, instead of the stuff that’s healthy, the stuff that’s not healthy. I would say that. Obviously I’m gonna make a self plug here, but us using our own service and eating our own dog food have been really huge to scaling a remote organization, because without being able to have good processes to actually nominate accounts, and get the right contacts inside those accounts, get the right data points on those accounts, it’s really hard to sale.

Liston W.:
Fantastic. Hey, man. You’re free to plug your own tool. Please do. One last question. What’s one habit, system, or routine that you couldn’t live without?

Derek Rahn:
For me it’s just it’s always about awareness and self-awareness. Right? As a rep, one of the things I did every Friday before I left, before I kicked off for the weekend … I’m a work hard, play hard kind of guy. Go into that library of shirts in my closet. I definitely like to have fun, and I like to put in long hours, and then on the weekends get out of that and be a person. But one of the things that allows me to do that and not take a rough work week or a great work week into my weekend is just a pipeline analysis at the end of every week to make sure that every opportunity is updated, that all the information that needs to be there to set myself up for success the following week is documented, whether you do it in task in Salesforce, whether you have another tool that you do this in.

Derek Rahn:
I’ve done it when I’ve worked with less complicated or less sophisticated organizations. I did it inside my Outlet Calendar. It was a nightmare, but it was someplace for me to manage. Right? Just sticking to a single source of truth for you as a rep to be able to manage your book of business, to manage followups and tell where deals really are, so that when you walk in on Monday morning, you’re like, “These are the five things I need to do this week,” and it’s because you spent the time on Friday getting it right. That’s really made me a successful person, and it’s led to the success of my reps, them being able to have their weekends and decompress, and be effective come Monday, because they weren’t carrying the luggage and the baggage from the week before, because they weren’t analyzing things and stressing themselves out. They’re like, “No. I know the five things I need to do next week, and I’m excited to get back to them on Monday morning.

Liston W.:
Excellent, sir. Well, you have given tons of great advice, great insight. If somebody wanted to follow up with you or Lead Genius, what should they do?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. Absolutely. I’m Derek Rahn. It’s Derek@LeadGenius.com. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn. I do accept LinkedIn request.

Liston W.:
Only if they’re written well though.

Derek Rahn:
Only if they’re written well. Like I said, I’m a pretty sociable guy, so Derek@LeadGenius.com if you wanna shoot me an email. I’m on all the regular channels, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and onwards. That’s where to reach me. It’s D-E-R-E-K, and last name is R-A-H-N.

Liston W.:
And that’ll all be linked in the show notes as well. Also, you mentioned, Derek … I wanna make sure to get this in for you as well. You do offer at Lead Genius a free customer data analysis with a Lead Genius expert. Where should someone go to get that?

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. Actually, just go to LeadGenius.com and request a demo. I will say this, that we are a consultative team. We’re not a team that is looking to convert everyone. Not everyone’s a good fit for Lead Genius, and I think that we, as an organization, have a great amount of responsibility in not selling a tool to someone who’s not a good fit. So, if you’re interested and you just wanna find out if you’re a good fit, feel free to ask for that custom data analysis. What we can do is we can show you the tool. We can show you what other people are doing it and show you what’s possible, based on your kind of customer maturity index, which is something that we track in the business. We can always recommend the right person for you or the right tool for you as well.

Liston W.:
My friend, I’ve never met you prior to this, but I say the same thing. I say I’m not gonna sell anything to someone unless it will help them. I don’t know Derek, but I totally agree with what he said. So, I do believe him. If you do want a demo from Lead Genius, it’s in the show notes. You don’t have to go anywhere. Just open up the show notes right now, one click. It’ll take you onto that website. Derek, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Derek Rahn:
Yeah. It’s been great. Really a pleasure meeting you, and hopefully we can meet face-to-face during the next conference or so.

Liston W.:
I love that.