Sales Hustle is now Sales Transformation
Aug. 30, 2021

#139 S2 Episode 8 - 25+ Years of Transforming Her Business to Meet Client Needs

#139 S2 Episode 8 - 25+ Years of Transforming Her Business to Meet Client Needs

This episode of the Sales Transformation Podcast with Collin Mitchell features Kendra Lee, sales expert, speaker, author, and President at KLA Group. The sales landscape has changed fundamentally in the past 25 years. Kendra experienced the shift from binders to webinars and shares the impact it had on the way she does business.

Sales training used to be done out in the field where the goal was prospecting qualified contacts. Unlike today where a single search yields many quality results, sales reps used to do cold calls and even door-to-door.

But even with changing times, the goal has always been the same—provide clients with the best solutions to their problems. Kendra shares the wisdom she has learned throughout her career and advises business owners to always listen to their market's true needs.


03:30 Sharing knowledge that helps other people 

04:47 Kendra's 25 year transformation in sales and marketing

09:30 Pay attention to the problems of your clients and succeed in sales  

13:56 Perfection is irrelevant, the best strategies are the ones you improve on now

17:55 Listen and think to come up with innovative ideas to solve problems

22:59 Connect with Kendra


06:05 "Unless you had the territory that your company felt was the top territory, you had no marketing support. And unless you were responsible for large accounts, I wasn't because my passion is new business, it was on you."

11:20 "You didn't follow up on any of your leads. You have to call your leads. Look, they're literally calling and asking you to call them and you're not calling them. So of course you didn't close anything because it starts with having a conversation."

12:18 "It is being able to pay attention to what's going in your market, whether it's a territory or it's an account set or it is your business and it's your target market. You've got to be able to pay attention to where their problems are."

16:25 "In sales, you have to go practice it. And I would bet you in anything, definitely with sales, when we teach prospecting, I want people to go write their value proposition and then I want them to go use it and come back."

22:08 "Marketing, we're not getting people. Let's look at what you're targeting. It could be the market, it could be the messaging. Let's share with you what we're hearing in the market that people care about why they're using our solutions."

Learn more about Kendra in the link below:

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[00:00:00] In the world of sales, you either sink or swim or breakthrough to the next level. My name's Colin Mitchell. And this is sales transformation, a new kind of sales show designed to bring you through the epic life-changing moments of elite sellers. So you can experience your own sales transformation.

[00:00:29] Hey, before we start today's episode, I wanted to bring you in on the best kept secret in B2B sales. If you're serious about social selling and your only strategy is cold DMS through LinkedIn, you're missing the mark big time. Learn how I fully manage revenue generating podcasts can change your life and your

[00:00:55] Welcome to another episode of sales transformation. And once [00:00:59] again, we have a fantastic guest for you. I've got Kendra Lee today and I had such a blast interviewing Kendra. She has started KLA group and has been doing it for 25 plus years. And there has been so many. Ways that she has transformed what she does in her business to best serve her clients.

[00:01:20] So tons of learning lessons here, uh, tons of things to remain relevant and open-minded and changing to meet the market's needs. So I hope that you enjoy today's episode with Kendra Kendra sales transformation. Well, thanks for having me. Yeah, it's been awesome. Getting to know you in this short period of time, we connected and, uh, had a little chat after meeting on LinkedIn and knew that I had to have you come on the show and some things have changed since then, but here we are.

[00:01:51] I am looking forward to this things have transformed is what you would say. Absolutely. [00:01:58] Absolutely. And a little bird told me that you might be starting a podcast in the near future. Sometime I'm trying, I'm looking at slating it for next year. We do a lot of webinars, a lot of content. The one thing I have not done that a number of my masterminds have been pushing me to do is a podcast.

[00:02:20] So it's like, okay, got to figure out this. Yeah. You know, usually when there's enough people telling you, you should do something, it's probably a good sign. You should do it. Um, and you know, I talked to a lot of people. Ended up starting shows. And usually they've been kicking around the idea for at least a couple of years.

[00:02:38] So I think you're ahead of the game. Well, it goes along with it's time to write the next book. And then of course managing all of the staff in the company. So, you know, fitting all that in is, is the biggest challenge. Shall we say? [00:02:57] Yeah, yeah. Writing a book. I'm just getting started in, in that process. So I might need to.

[00:03:01] Pick your brain for some tips, some pretty fortunate to be getting some guidance from my good friend, Andy Paul, um, going through a group with, uh, there's like about six or eight of us. And so it's pretty exciting, but scary process. It's just, it's just fun. Especially if you are interviewing any other people or you are telling stories to me, that's the fun part.

[00:03:29] And you're sharing your knowledge and your expertise that help other people. So I find it very rewarding. Um, and yesterday I talked with somebody who said that. Oh, my gosh, I couldn't put your book down. It's like, wow, that feels really good. You know, that you're, you're really helping people and they're taking those ideas to heart and even better is when they say they use them because my books are all very [00:03:56] specific, do these things and it will work, you know, it's, it's not.

[00:04:01] There's strategy in there, but it's not so strategic that they don't know. Um, well, how do I apply that? I tell them how to apply it. So it's rewarding when they take your recommendations and then they get results, especially in sales. Hm. Yeah. Um, I'm, I'm definitely curious about the fun part of writing a book.

[00:04:24] I don't think I've gotten there. Yeah,

[00:04:29] yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, all right. So I want to dig into your story and what your sales transformation has been. And I know that there's probably going to be a ton of learning lessons in there, so I'm super excited to jump in and I'll let you take it from there. Well, there are so many different layers that I look at [00:04:55] from a sales transformation for me personally.

[00:04:58] Um, we started our business over 25 years ago and we started as sales training for sales reps who were responsible for new business development. And that was before marketing automation. We didn't even have email there. I say at the time. Oh my gosh. What did people do? Oh, it was cold calling. Believe it or not.

[00:05:27] Direct mail letters dropped by knocking on doors, knocking on doors. I mean, just, I ran seminars. Which by the way are only webinars now. And they're still one of my favorite strategies, right? Yeah. And now they're not even webinars now they're virtual events now their school isn't. Exactly. And there are different links.

[00:05:50] I mean, we've just done a poll out to our audience to say, Hey, [00:05:54] We're thinking about changing the length, what do you want it to be? So they get to say, but we started at that point when it was all on the salesperson, you know, unless you had the territory that your company felt was the top territory, you had no marketing support.

[00:06:14] So unless, and unless you were responsible for large accounts, I wasn't, because my passion is new business. It was on you to figure out where the heck you were going to get your leads. Then there were no lists. I don't even know that. I don't know if Hoovers even had lists back then. You know, my list came out of a mainframe because at the time I worked for IBM, Oh, wow.

[00:06:38] I went and I pulled these or I went and I looked in the yellow pages and the business journal, you know, that's where I got my list. And then I had to figure out well, who are the right contacts? So we started by training salespeople. [00:06:53] How the heck do you do new business development when you had all these resource constraints?

[00:06:58] None of the luxuries that we do today in our business transformed from that. Into when marketing automation happened and big companies, did you want to train their salespeople anymore? And they were going to hire telemarketers to do everything dang too. Oh my gosh. Now marketing does new business development.

[00:07:23] So what are we gonna do you there? So we had to even go through that transformation. And then we had to go through the transformation of, okay, we've got marketing automation, but nobody wants to do that hard work. And we moved from working with fortune 500 fortune 50 companies to the people who really needed us.

[00:07:47] Which were the SMB companies to now where we work with [00:07:52] companies between 1,000,080 5 million in annual revenue. There's a transformation for you. And they didn't want to have to do the marketing work for new business development. So we moved from, we're going to train you how we're going to coach you, how to now we're going to do it for you.

[00:08:11] And oh, by the way, now that we've done it, we've generated leads. You need to know how to follow up on a lead. So guess what? Full circle we're back to, how do you do a cold call? How do you call that lead? How do you move them through the sales process? So that's been the transformation that we've gone through at KLA and underneath all that personally there's been growth.

[00:08:37] Yeah, it sounds like there's been lots of opportunities. For you and your team to level up your own skills, right? Like [00:08:51] serving people based on the needs, which are constantly changing. Right. And there's so many companies or individuals that. Stuck in what they know and are not innovating or leveling up their skills or really meeting the needs of their buyers.

[00:09:14] Right. Because the needs of your buyers change. And I mean, a lot of anybody who has both sides, the sales and the marketing skills is what I like to consider pretty dangerous. Yes. It's. It's. Exciting to have conversations with business owners who they can, they can figure out the marketing side. They can't figure out the sales side.

[00:09:46] It's really, it's interesting for whatever reason, maybe [00:09:50] because we do a lot with it companies. And so they're technical. Yeah, the marketing, it feels like to people that you can have a checklist, I'm doing email marketing, great. Figured out my target market. Great. Um, I am starting a podcast. Got it. I'm going to do some virtual events done.

[00:10:10] Got social media going. Okay. You know, so they, they can go down this checklist. Oh, we've got our website. We've updated our website. We've got our SEO. We started Google ads. You know, they can go right down this checkup. Now it may not be producing for them, but in their mind, they're like, oh yeah, I understand that.

[00:10:27] But when it comes to the sales side, when we've generated the marketing qualified lead, which we have to describe, what's a marketing qualified lead. They don't know what to do on the sales side. Why won't the lead convert? Oh, our marketing must be bad. So back to our checklist. Yeah. So then you have sales and marketing [00:10:49] pointing fingers.

[00:10:49] The leads are bad. No, you can't close leads are back and you can't close, right? Or you're not following up. We had a client that left us. We were producing. A mammoth amount of leads for them, marketing qualified leads, people who were actually coming to their events and saying, yes, please call us. And nobody would call.

[00:11:14] And so they left us because they said we couldn't. And it's like, guys, you didn't follow up on any of your leads. You have to call your leads. Look, they're literally calling and asking you to call them and you're not calling them. Of course you didn't close anything because it starts with having a conversation.

[00:11:33] Yeah. And, and it sounds like a lot of these things. Where you've started to serve different needs, right. Is from experience right where we generated leads, but they don't know what they're doing once we get them there. So we got to [00:11:48] figure out how to help them and support them in that area because great.

[00:11:52] You did your job. You got a bunch of leads to raise their hand and say, Hey, I'm interested. Uh, but you still end up losing the client if they can't hold up their end. Once the lead comes in the door. Your podcast is all about sales transformation. And to me, if you're going to be very successful, and if you are the business owner or you are the sales person, it is being able to pay attention to what's going on in your market.

[00:12:24] Whether it's a territory or it's an account set, or it is your business and it's your target market. You've got to be able to pay attention to where their problems are and our business has evolved. It's so funny. When I started KLA, I started, as I said, we started as a sales training company and there was.

[00:12:46] One [00:12:47] person that I looked up to who had the most beautiful sales training binders. So this is one of our binders, right? Ha beautiful. Says training binder was all leather. And it nice spirals, heavy paper. And he had it used it for every class. And I said, is that the only thing you do? Oh yeah. This is the only class we deliver.

[00:13:14] We've been delivering this class for three years. I envisioned we're going to be delivering it for another. And I was like, cool, I want to have that nice, beautiful binder. Look, mine's red. This one is particular, this our sales prospecting class thread. And we don't even give binders anymore. It's changing all the time.

[00:13:36] We never could aspire to that. It was like every year we were adding to the class because prospecting was changing, selling was changing. We [00:13:46] could never have the beautiful leather bound binder with a nice thick, heavy 20 pound paper in it. And laminated handouts that you gave people, right. Just like salespeople want to think, oh, I've got the perfect script.

[00:14:02] I've got the perfect sequence. I've got the perfect LinkedIn prospecting message. And. There's no such thing as perfect things are changing. There's too many variables. The only perfect script, the only perfect sequence or whatever is the one that's not perfect. The horn hits constantly changing, constantly improving, constantly getting better based on your, what you're learning throughout, you know, the activity.

[00:14:34] It's exactly right. You are always transforming and, and in sale. It's looking to see how is my market changing? You know, [00:14:45] regulations are always changing. Their markets are changing. Their staff is changing. If you're in a growing market, their systems, their processes are all changing. Every time you turn around, they're changing and you to support them, have to evolve.

[00:15:02] It's fun, but boy, is it scary? Yeah. Cause you're always, you're never. John, I can, I will never achieve with KLA what this one guy had done because our markets are changing all the time and no more so than in lead generation and new business development. Yeah. I mean, that line of thinking is, is the, is the best way to make yourself irrelevant.

[00:15:34] You're going out of business strategy. Oh, that's harsh. But I agree. I agree. I agree with his harsh. I don't know what he's [00:15:44] doing. I don't know if he's still in business. Um, yeah, but I knew after the first two, I think I chased that for two or three years, trying to have the perfect sales training. But it was different for every client.

[00:16:03] And then of course marketing automation happened. The internet happened, email happened. It's like, well, forget it. As I said, we don't use binders. Our training is all virtual. We don't even do full day classes. We used to do full day classes to get somebody to commit to a full day these days, forget it well, and they don't learn in sale.

[00:16:27] You have to go practice it. And I would bet you in anything, definitely with sales, when we teach prospecting, I want people to go right. Their value proposition and that I want them to go use it and come back. And then I want to see them leave voicemails [00:16:43] and fail and come back. So that we can work with them on how do you perfect it so that when they get to the end, they do feel like they know how to go after this target market, how they can have a conversation and how they're going to continually adapt and they don't have a script.

[00:17:01] So it's, it's evolving, always evolving. Yeah. And, and this applies in a lot of things, right? I mean, even your sales leaders. You know, not constantly investing time to update the playbooks. Yeah. I, I mean, it's so common for, you know, especially like smaller maybe organizations where the sales playbooks are stuck in somebody's head or, you know, they're stuck on a Google doc that hasn't been updated since.

[00:17:35] Before the pandemic, like, you know, uh, it's just, you know, these, these things are [00:17:42] constantly changing. Constantly need to be updated. Uh, I'm curious to, to, uh, I have a question, right? So you said that it's important to stay updated about your market, about your industry. Like what are some tips you have for people like what's the best way to stay informed so that they can constantly be in the loop about to ho how to best serve their client.

[00:18:06] It's a combination of listening carefully to what you're the clients are saying. So this is not, you always making recommendations and you always telling them, but listening to what's going on as well as paying attention to their market. Um, you know, even with them in prospects. So one of the things I love about talking to prospects is they're not already doing what we're doing.

[00:18:34] They're doing something different, right? They're speaking differently. We haven't yet influenced them. [00:18:41] And I want to hear what are they thinking about? And we may have influenced them cause they could have come to a coffee with Kendra webinar or they could, you know, be reading all of our cards, content downloaded things, but they have all these other ideas that are influenced by whomever they're talking.

[00:19:01] So it's a big piece of that is being open-minded. One of the biggest challenges I personally have is, um, reading business books because, um, every, literally, almost every page I come away going, oh, we should do this. Oh, what about that? You just, it's just being open. To all this, these different possibilities.

[00:19:27] And I can give you an example. We have a client who is using direct mail campaigns, combined with email and calling. He really likes direct mail. The area that they're [00:19:40] in, it had been successful. Pre COVID. Now COVID hit and you don't have addresses for anybody. Um, so they paused, they started to resume their direct mail.

[00:19:53] Since now things are opening up, but the mail, the post office in their location will not deliver their lumpy mail. It keeps getting returned. It goes from their location in a small city to a bigger city. Which sorts it and sends it back to their location, but it's their location that is at the, at the start is rejecting it and sending it back and charging them huge amounts to do it because it's all lumpy mail.

[00:20:28] So the other day I said to him, okay, we got to think outside the box. What if, since we know it's the point of origin that is rejecting it and it's your town, what if you [00:20:39] just hire a messenger service to take it to the bigger. And put it in the post office there, put it in the mail there. He was like, oh my gosh, I never thought of that.

[00:20:49] You, so you just, you have to listen and then think and come up with a whole different idea. And that's very, very tactical, but strategically in your business, in your territory, you know, what are we going to do? So those, those new ideas that you need to be thinking about coming from all the people that you talk to.

[00:21:11] Yeah. And I mean, it's hard to remember everything, right. So yeah. Having a way of documenting this, which a lot of salespeople don't like to do, uh, we all know that it's no, no hidden secret. Um, but Hey, if you want to get better and you want to make the right changes based on some patterns that you see, this is important stuff.

[00:21:34] Yeah. Feedback from why people don't want to work with you [00:21:38] or why they're not interested as so valuable or, you know, listening intently and asking good questions and documenting that stuff is great information for the sales team to bring back to the marketing team. If they're like, Hey marketing, great.

[00:21:55] You're bringing us all these leads. The leads that are coming in. Here's what we're hearing from them. So we might need to switch things up with the messaging and the targeting or whatever, cause we're not getting the right people, right. Or marketing. We're not getting people let's look at what you're targeting.

[00:22:15] It could be the market. It could be the messaging. Oh, let's tell you, let's share with you what we're hearing in the market that people care about why they're using our solutions. So if you're a bigger company talking to each other, marketing can learn from sales because sales is on the front line and sales can learn from marketing because marketing writes really well.[00:22:37] 

[00:22:37] They have very flowery ways of saying things. And I S I'll steal from marketing. I like their phrases. They sound good. I know why they matter because I understand the problems, but Hey, they said it better. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I love it. I love it. Uh, Kendra. Thanks so much for coming on today. Any final thoughts?

[00:23:01] Where can people learn about the things that you're doing? Follow you, get into your world, all that good stuff. Well, definitely visit our We have a, uh, I'm going to say a boatload of resources that are out there for. Generating new business for doing marketing lead generation, as well as for selling.

[00:23:29] And actually you had asked me if I had one to share, may I share one? Absolutely. [00:23:36] So we have 45 ways to build and protect your sales funnel, which is in our resources section. Just go to Kaylee and it's in there and you'll see it. Um, I would strongly recommend go get that because it'll give you all these new ideas of things that you can do to grow your sales funnel, as well as protected from the competition.

[00:24:03] I'm also on LinkedIn, Kendra. So go there or just pick up the phone. (303) 741-6636. That's an, that's an interesting one. There you go. For cold calls, just call. That's actually a great strategy because if they call and they're not so good, [00:24:35] uh that's. I like that funnel right there actually pretty fun. So the person that answered.

[00:24:43] It's actually a man and he will tell people like, yeah, you did a really nice job there. You don't need your service, but that was a really nice call. Or you guys could use our help. Do you know what I mean? It's, it's interesting. I get all kinds of LinkedIn DMS that are horrible. And, uh, I just send them a link to our sales community and say, Hey, hop in here.

[00:25:06] If you want to learn some better ways of processing. So Kendra, it's been awesome having you on I'm going to drop those links in the show notes so that everybody has access to those resources and can get into your world. And we might just blow your phone up, who knows. Um, but, and it'll be interesting. So I'd love to hear the results.

[00:25:28] But if you enjoyed today's episode, please write us a review. It really does help share the show [00:25:34] with your friends. And as always, we're listening for your feedback. Hey, you stuck around that tells me you're serious about your own sales transformation. If you're tired of doing things the old way. And want to get started in your journey with other people on the same path, head over to sales,, and crush your numbers on your leaderboard.

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