On this episode of the Sales Transformation Podcast with Collin Mitchell, he is joined by Carson Heady, Best-Selling Author, 8-Time CEO Award Winner, Microsoft Director, #1 Social Seller. and Sales Hall of Fame Inductee.
Listen as Carson divulges the secrets of just how failure can set you up for success and how to turn things around your way, ultimately living your life without regrets in terms of sales. Carson also talks about his books and how it can help you learn more about sales by being a novel instead of the usual straight forward manner.
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01:07 How Carson got into sales and how he transformed from there
06:40 Transitioning to being effective in a virtual world by using fundamentals learned as a core
10:53 Winning vs. learning, the mind set it develops and what Carson's books can teach you
16:19 Learning even when you're losing and celebrate from it
21:46 How to connect with Carson and where to look and purchase his books
03:02 "I've always been a big believer in people and relationship creation, but also process. How can I best execute process and so if I can figure out the best we're doing and I look to these metrics that will ultimately lead to me getting paid."
07:54 "Being able to talk to sales people all over the world, it's amazing to me how many different approaches do work. And frankly, I think that's why team selling or even leveraging different colleagues or different perspectives as your are building your sales process."
10:16 "The best elite sellers like yourself know that you never stop learning in sales. There's gonna be new ways of doing things, new technology, new things that you can do to help you do your job better. New ways to figure out what is the best way to approach this deal or this buying team or team selling."
14:17 "You gotta make sure that you take strategic risks in your career and I've taken some that didn't pan out. But I learned a heck of a lot from them, and every one of them led me to where I am today. I have zero regrets and I'm truly living my dream."
18:14 "You look back and kind of do a post mortem on that deal, and you look at what went wrong and get feedback from the customer. Go to them and say like, 'hey I understand you went this direction and I respect that, I'd love to just sit down and help me understand how we could have supported better.'"
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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.
[00:00:24] What is happening? Welcome to another episode of sales transformation, and today as always, I've got a fantastic guest for you. I've got Carson Hedy. He's awesome. He's a sales director over at Microsoft. And, uh, if you've been listening since the sales hustled days, which weren't that long ago, uh, you may have heard him on the show before, but today it's a little bit of a different, uh, format here.
[00:00:47] So we're going to dig into more of Carson's experience and pull learning lessons out of that. Carson, welcome back for round two. I have to say you are the first person ever to come back for a second time. Wow. Well, Hey, that's I [00:00:59] take that as high praise Colin. It's always good to be with you. And I appreciate the option.
[00:01:03] Yeah. Um, I'm excited to learn a little bit more about your story. Um, you know, I know that you're a best-selling author. Uh, we can talk about your book and kind of, you know, what led you up to there. You're eight time president's club winner across, you know, six sales, leadership roles. So, so tons of, uh, experiences, lots of success that we can pull things out of there, but let's just start sort of at the beginning, like when the heck did you get into sales?
[00:01:27] Why and why have you stuck with it? So. Yeah, it was completely by accident. Um, it was one of those things, price. Yeah. I mean, I think that's common, right? I mean, we get to talk to sellers all the time and I think it's sometimes it's very inadvertent. Um, there wasn't as much focus when I was getting in school, on training people to become great sellers.
[00:01:45] So I thought I was going for a customer service job. I knew somebody imagine that, right. That, uh, I mean, into the interview loop for this role. And I started out in telecom and telecommunications for at the time, Southwestern bell [00:01:58] now at T and T. Um, I spent about eight and a half years there. Um, in different facets.
[00:02:03] I started in more of a one-call close environment, um, working with business customers and then residential customers, uh, talk about a tough sell somebody calling in complaining about their bill being high. And then you have to turn around an upseller package, um, but worked in a one-call close. Um, spent time as a sales leader at, at and T in multiple different capacities.
[00:02:24] Um, then ultimately went into the yellow pages division. Um, I've had background in retail, I've had background in wireless, um, and then ultimately joined Microsoft about seven and a half years ago, a lot to transpired, um, through the, uh, through the time, but, uh, really have run the gamut between that one call close environments and, uh, working in enterprise sales cycles.
[00:02:45] Wow. All right. So a lot to unpack there. I want to kind of start at the beginning because I'm very curious, you know, what skills, what things that you learned in that one call close environment where not only was [00:02:57] it one called close, but you're also talking to people then a lot of cases are probably pissed off about something.
[00:03:02] You got to back them off the ledge and then sell them something. And it was often back to back calls. I think when I think back about that time, Colin, what would probably sticks with me most is that it forced me to pick up best practices from other people and assimilate them into my process. I've always been a big believer in people and relationship creation, but also process how can I best execute process.
[00:03:26] And so if I figured out what the best we're doing, and I looked at these metrics that would ultimately. For lead to me getting paid and I figured out, okay, this is how I need them optimize this metric. This is how I need to optimize this metric. I just found who was doing the best in each figured out what they were doing.
[00:03:41] And then I assimilated that into my process. So, um, that's what I remember most about the very beginning, not to mention the fact that often there were days. You know, 100 plus calls back to back to back to back. So it teaches you that resilience, um, [00:03:56] that drive that mindset that you need to be a sales champion.
[00:03:59] Uh, we, we've all got to pay our dues and I've been very fortunate because I've been promoted. Um, I've moved up and, uh, been able to lead sales teams. Um, but that doesn't happen overnight. Um, and sales excellence is not about excellent sales. So it's about. Really becoming a student of the game, understanding the parameters, what you can control.
[00:04:19] So I always try to find the best emulate the best become the best. Yeah, I love that. Um, you know, mirroring people picking up what's working from other people is, is definitely a good way when you're getting started. Um, I have a little experience, um, of my own when I first got started of using that as part of my process of growth in sales.
[00:04:40] Um, and it sort of backfired on me a little bit. So you do have to be careful because not everybody in sales is going to have the same morals as you. And, uh, I, I, you know, was on the sales floor and started, you know, sort of just mirroring what somebody [00:04:55] else was saying and started getting some sales. And somebody came along that had been there a while and said, you really shouldn't say that on the, on your phone calls.
[00:05:02] And I'm like, why the heck would I not say that it's, it's working? You know, I'm, I'm knocking down numbers left and right by using this new, uh, found phrases that I'm using in my pitch. And he said, yeah, but it's not true. I have to say, oh, but it's work. It's working. I don't understand. You know? And, uh, so you definitely got to pick and choose who you, who you mere and who you pick up things for.
[00:05:27] But, uh, but it is a good place to get started. And some of the best people that I've worked with in sales are people. Are able to adapt and learn quickly, um, and just soak things up like a sponge, right? Like you, can't not everything that you need to know is going to be foun, uh, spoonfed to you. You know, there's things that you need to just pick up and take some action, like you said, and, you know, figure out who [00:05:54] the best are and see what's working for them and implement it and try it in your own process.
[00:05:58] Yeah. I love that. Colin and I look at it very similar to being like an athlete. You know, you understand the playing field and you understand the parameters. Sometimes it's not about hitting that home run. It's about how do I hit that bloop single over the first baseman's head, but every ballpark is also different.
[00:06:12] So yeah, I've worked in a lot of different industry verticals. I just mentioned, I worked in telecommunications. I've been an advertising, retail it solution sales. Each one is very good. But the fundamentals are often very similar. How am I creating relationships? How am I investing in these customer relationships?
[00:06:29] How am I prospecting creating new relationships, uh, within the line of business with the influencers and the decision makers, how am I engaging all the resources that are at my disposal so that I can be, um, optimal. Effective. And so I loved what you said about the adaptation element as well, because we have to be chameleons and sales.
[00:06:47] I mean, look at what we've encountered over the last year and a half within a pandemic. A lot of us who are used to, uh, [00:06:53] face-to-face sales, um, transition to being effective in a much more virtual world. So how are we leveraging those tools? How are we putting the same fundamentals and practice in maybe more of a digital medium?
[00:07:05] So, um, couldn't agree more about the adaptation, uh, but the fundamentals are still at the. Yeah. Yeah. The fundamentals are not going to change. You still got a prospect, you still got to run discovery calls. You still gotta negotiate. You still gotta know how to ask for the order. Right. Um, but there's even a lot of people talking about all the like psychographics of, of things now, too.
[00:07:26] There's people that you're going to be more aligned with or, you know, kind of meeting, uh, your sale, the what your sales process. And meeting that with the way that particular people buy, because people buy differently and some people are more, they want to know facts and data, you know, there's other people that, you know, They like you and trust you, they're going to buy in and there's people in between.
[00:07:48] And there's, you know, it kind of pisses me off sometimes when there's people that are [00:07:52] like, no, it's this way or it's that way. And it's no, it's, it's, it's what works for you. And it's what works in each situation, which can be different industry relationship vertical you're working in. There's just so many variables to say that there's one right or wrong answer.
[00:08:06] I couldn't agree more. Um, having been a sales coach for many years, and also being able to talk to sales people all over the world. Um, it's, it's amazing to me how many different approaches, uh, do work. And frankly, I think that's why team selling, or even just leveraging different colleagues or different perspectives as you are building your sales process, or even just engaging in a deal.
[00:08:30] Um, these things can be so impactful because you're going to put a people, you know, a group of people together. To get a deal done, and everybody's going to have a unique vantage point. Everybody's going to have their own experiences. Everybody's going to have different things that worked for them, uh, when they were at that leg in the race.
[00:08:45] And, and frankly, when you're working on a deal, um, a lot of it is just that ability to [00:08:51] see around corners and anticipate what's going to transpire. Um, so I couldn't agree more. Everybody's going to come with their own unique vantage point around the sale, the run, the sale, they're all valid. And I think that's why specifically as a sales coach and a sales leader, I'm never looking to change somebody's process.
[00:09:08] I'm looking for where might there be gaps in the process that we can work on improving too. Yeah. Yeah. There's even creepy technology these days to tell you, you know, how to, uh, I had a guy on, I recorded yesterday, uh, named Scott and he's got this AI tool called a S I can never pronounce it. Right. But it's C renaud.ai.
[00:09:31] And when I first met the guy, uh, he, we went on a zoom call and we had a conversation and then he sent me the report on myself. It was too creepy. I didn't talk to the guy for a few months after that, on face after that day, then, you know what you're talking [00:09:50] about that Collin is when, when I started in selling and I mean, I've been in environments where we were calling prospects off Excel spreadsheets, picking up a physical phone dialing, and then seeing the advent of the autodialer.
[00:10:03] And now with artificial intelligence, being able to literally go in and pinpoint phone calls with customers where certain words were said, or not said it blows my mind. Um, but that just speaks to that adaptation element. You know, we all have to adapt to the effectiveness of the tools that are around us.
[00:10:21] And that's, it's kind of like a doctor over time. I mean, if there's new technologies, new, certain, you know, new ways of doing surgery, you have to learn these new methods to become optimally. Yeah. Yeah. And it's so true. I mean, the, the best elite sellers like yourself know that you, you never stop learning and sales.
[00:10:38] There's going to be new ways of doing things, new technology, new things that you can do to help you do your better, your job. You know, new ways to figure out what is the [00:10:49] best way to approach this deal or this buying team, or, you know, team selling, which is, you know, something that's been done for awhile in enterprise sales, but, uh, more, you know, smaller organizations are starting to pick that up as well.
[00:11:03] Uh, which there's a lot of value, uh, in that that a lot of people haven't taken advantage of for a long time. I love that you said that about always learning, um, because a lot of people are focused on winning and I got to tell you winning comes and goes. You know, I think any, anybody that fights for wins, um, you know, we've all had that taste of victory, but it doesn't last, what lasts is the learning and the growth and the relationships and the people and the experiences that's what lasts.
[00:11:29] Um, so you've got to have that mindset of always learning. Uh, you know, what, what books are we reading? What podcasts are we diving into? Um, how are we honing our craft and improving our skills? Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you brought up books because I'm curious too. Uh, when did you decide to go down the path of writing your book [00:11:48] and what can people expect in your book?
[00:11:50] Because I'd like you to kind of share with the listeners where they can pick it up, uh, and what they can learn out of there. Yeah. And you know, what. One of the things that I always tried to impart is that nothing that I've done, can't be easily replicated. Like, don't get me wrong. It took a lot of effort to write a book and also to get it published.
[00:12:08] I mean, I reached out to thousands of publishers and agents, uh, throughout that process. I got a lot of rejection. Um, but you know, it just takes one person to say, yeah, I'll publish this thing and I'll distribute it. Um, so for me, it was one of the most impactful things in my life, but it was also one of those things.
[00:12:25] Because of the book that I had written, it made me become, my resume was noticed for a role that I got about a decade ago that led me into another role because of a relationship I created at that company that ultimately led me to Microsoft. I wouldn't be here. If I hadn't written that book years ago, I haven't sold enough to retire.
[00:12:42] It was never about that. It was more because I felt like I had something to say. [00:12:47] So your question was around the impetus for why. I've always enjoyed writing. Um, when I was at, at and T I wrote a column for a newsletter that they had within the at and T division that I was in and all my columns were about sales.
[00:13:01] And I was like, you know, I wouldn't mind writing a sales book, but it's been done well so many times I would hate to try to replicate that model. So I tried to create something more unique, more of a parable or a story around a fictional character or a fictional protagonist that I created, who kind of writes this book with it in the book.
[00:13:18] And then you uncover. How did he learn all of these lessons along the way? So it's more of a narrative and more of a novel, but it's got a sales book inside of that novel. And so I wrote birth of the salesmen about a decade ago, and that was kind of the one that led me on this journey. The last one was salesmen on fire and I've never.
[00:13:36] I would never set out to write something, just to write it. I would want to write it with something meaningful to say. So salesmen on fire is more about re reinvention. Uh, we're [00:13:46] always called upon, uh, you know, to the point of the conversation that we've been having today. We're always called upon to reinvent, to adapt.
[00:13:52] Um, and I don't care if you're a 20 something starting out in sales or you're. You know, you've been in sales for 20 years. Uh, we're always having to continue learning. We're always having to continue to learn and grow. And frankly, sometimes, you know, you get your teeth kicked in. Uh, if you're in sales long enough, um, you're going to pay your dues.
[00:14:10] Sometimes you're going to pay them multiple times. Stuff's going to happen to you. That's not fair. Um, you know, you've got to be resilient, you've got to be strong and you've got to persevere and that's what salesmen on fires off. I love that. I mean, yeah, if you're not getting your teeth kicked in, then, then you're not trying hard enough.
[00:14:27] Yes, exactly. Exactly. You're, you're not taking the right risks. Um, you know, I think the key element is, uh, you've got to make sure that you take strategic risks in your career and I've taken some that didn't pan out, but I learned a heck of a lot from them and every one of them led me to where I am today.
[00:14:42] I have zero regrets and I'm truly [00:14:45] living my way. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, getting your, getting your teeth kicked in is sometimes the most valuable learning lesson, you know, uh, and especially a lot of salespeople that, that I talked to and including myself were pretty stubborn people a lot of times, and somebody can tell us, Hey, you should do this or go that way or don't do that.
[00:15:09] You probably may not listen to them until you experienced that firsthand. You know, uh, we all have probably our own stories, you know, whether it's, you know, not having the proper people in the buying committee or, you know, not, you know, fully qualifying properly or, you know, booking deals that you knew, you probably weren't good deals, you know, whatever the case is that have backfired.
[00:15:33] Wow. Okay. The stove is hot. I'm not going to put my hand on there again. Plus the same thing. As you know, my parents used to give me a lot of guidance that was spot on and I didn't listen. I had to learn the hard way. And I [00:15:44] think it's sellers a lot of times, to your point, you articulated it very well. We are, we are often stubborn.
[00:15:49] We have to learn it the hard way, but, um, I think whether it's a, uh, maybe it's a misstep in the process or not understanding of buying signal or not knowing. Uh, the buyer's process as well as you should, these things can bite you and you will lose. You will lose to competitors. Uh, you'll lose to yourself or your own arrogance or misdirection.
[00:16:10] Uh, but the more that you can do to take these losses or learnings and have them inform future actions, the more effective you'll be, uh, you'll get to the point. Um, you can see around those corners and you can anticipate all of these things coming and you know, all the right questions to ask, you know, all the right people to have in the boat with you on the, on your side, and also all the right influencers to have and things to understand on the customer.
[00:16:34] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, those, those lessons are, are so valuable to making you more efficient in, in [00:16:43] the next time similar situation happens, you know, exactly, exactly what to do. Um, and you can actually celebrate those losses as painful as it is. You know, you can dissect them, Hey, you know, sort of post-mortem here.
[00:16:56] You know, what happened? What went wrong, review the notes, review the calls, the, you know, every step to figure out. And you know what the, the, the tough part about it is even if you do everything right, you still can lose. Um, and will say that the best thing that ever happened to me was the one year that I missed goal.
[00:17:17] Because it never happened again. And because I thought that I was good before and that I approached my business strongly before I turned it up a notch after that. And it just, it made me even more effective. I, I love what you said about celebrating those losses because they just make you. Yeah. Yeah. Do you have some, some big losses that you could, uh, share with us and what you learned?
[00:17:39] Yeah. Yeah. Um, you know, I remember [00:17:42] one of my first years as a seller and, um, I lost a pretty substantial compete situation and there was a lot of egg on my face. Um, it was, I was relatively new, but nevertheless, I mean, Somewhat of a reputation built up as, as a, as a seller in a previous role. Um, and so, you know, coming into this role again, relatively new into the end of my time and tenure, it was a situation where I thought that I had all of the controllables.
[00:18:10] I did not have people in the boat with me that could have helped me be more effective. I didn't have all the insight that I needed. I didn't have some of the buyer or influencers or even the influencers of influencer relationships that I needed at the other organization. And, um, It was a lost deal. And it's like, you look at these things and I think it's important to do two things.
[00:18:30] Colin one, you look back and you do kind of a post-mortem on that deal. And you look at what went wrong, um, you know, and get feedback from the customer, you know, go to them and say like, Hey, I. [00:18:41] You know, I understand you went this direction and I respect that. Um, I'd love to just sit down, you know, maybe help me understand how we could have supported better, um, how we could have been a better partner, that sort of thing.
[00:18:51] But the second element is that ability to don't dwell on that loss. You know, you, you take that with you as the next time you faced a similar situation. You knew exactly what to do. And look, I, I could list off a litany of losses that I've had over the years, as far as, from a deal perspective where. I thought we were right there at the end of the deal.
[00:19:13] And then it turned out that there was another process that the customer had to go through for a legal approval perspective. And nobody had told me about it. Maybe I didn't know, to ask because I thought I had asked the right questions, but I didn't. Um, but then what did that teach me and taught me how to better articulate.
[00:19:28] That question and which people did. I need to reach out to an organizations to make sure that that never bit me again. So, uh, those types of things are super, uh, impactful. No, your [00:19:40] competitors. Um, nowhere they have strengths where you're, where you have weaknesses. Um, you know, You can only do so much around the selling environment.
[00:19:50] Collin, you've got to control all of the controllables because like you just said, you can do everything right. And still lose. All you can do is head your bets, control the controllables, play the odds. And, um, over time, if you do that, you will be successful, but you're not going to win every day. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:20:07] And even, and even the best sellers lose more than they win, whether they wanna admit it or not, you know? Um, but it's, it's, it can be stressful, you know, it's a lot, it's a lot of work, you know, it is. And if you, if you can edit, takes a certain mental toughness and. You know, not tying sort of your happiness or your self worth to the, what you have in the win column can be difficult for a lot of sellers.
[00:20:33] So, you know, controlling the controllables, like you said, is, is huge and [00:20:39] show up and make sure that you don't make those same mistakes that you learn from those losses, um, is huge, but you're still gonna lose more than you're gonna win. And. That's okay. So for the faint of heart, um, you know, I, I love the, uh, Kevin Costner baseball movie, um, where, you know, uh, for the love of the game.
[00:20:59] And there's a scene in there where he's standing on the mound and he just like shuts it all off. And he says clear the mechanism and he's able to block out everything around him that sometimes you've got to push through, you got to push through tough conversations, uh, tough negotiations losses. Um, but at the end, If you continue to learn and you continue to bring a positive mindset and you celebrate even small wins, um, you know, you celebrate these wins and you celebrate the wins while they last you look to create meaningful relationships, both with customer organizations and with colleagues, uh, you will.
[00:21:32] Uh, have a very rewarding career. Um, you know, I just, sales has been phenomenally good [00:21:38] to me, but it hasn't all been just wonderful blissful moments. But over time, as you just continue to focus on the step, focus on the call, you're on optimize each day in each conversation, you'll come out. Absolutely Carson.
[00:21:52] Thanks so much for coming on again for round two first, first person ever to come back for a second time. Um, so, uh, just let everybody know, please, before you go, where they can connect with you, where they can find the books and anything else you want to let them know that we're going to include in the show notes.
[00:22:11] Love it. No, thanks again, Colin. And now you've set a high bar because I want to be the first person to be invited back for a third time as well. Um, so, but no, thanks so much. I always appreciate our chats. And, uh, you know, I just, if anybody could take away something from this conversation today, look, I'm a small town kid from the Midwest us.
[00:22:29] Like there's literally no reason. Um, you no rhyme or reason why somebody like me could rise to be regarded as the top social [00:22:37] seller in Microsoft. You know, for books that have been bestsellers. Um, but I think the key element that you need to focus on is always be investing in yourself, whether that's learning or growth, or whether it's, you know, funneling your passions into something that adds value for other people.
[00:22:52] Uh, these are the words that I've lived by and I've always just tried to make that true to my brand. Um, people can find the books via Barnes and noble, Amazon. Well, so I believe walmart.com and, uh, as far as finding me, please do I'm I'm on LinkedIn and very active there also on Twitter, uh, CV HETI 0, 0 7, uh, would love to connect.
[00:23:12] I love connecting with sellers all over. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks again, Carson. Really appreciate it. If you enjoyed today's episode, please rate us review, share the show with your friends. It really does help us out. And as always, we're listening for your feedback. Hey, you stuck around that tells me you're serious about your own sales transformation.
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