Sales Hustle is now Sales Transformation
Feb. 21, 2022

#250 S2 Episode 119 - How To Look For The Right Sales Signals with Jamie Shanks

In this episode of The Sales Transformation with Collin Mitchell podcast, Collin talks to Jamie Shanks, CEO and co-founder of Pipeline Signals and Sales for Life. Jamie talks about his sales journey, and how his first business failure served as his eureka moment by leading him to pioneer social selling. Jamie explains that beneath the fancy tools, the process of social selling is the same with traditional methods, just adapted to the specifics of platforms.

As for his companies, Jamie shares how they are combining excellent search intelligence with the best execution to help businesses achieve their sales goals. In this episode, Jamie gives us an overview of how they track and mine customer signals to create sales plays that can help sales teams make the best of their time and resources.

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  • Tragedy turned opportunity by pioneering social selling
  • What is social selling?
  • Sellers need to learn how to do account prioritization 
  • Introducing the Spheres of Influence 
  • Teaching people to fish in the exact spot where fishes go
  • Sales intelligence and execution have to go hand-in-hand


Jamie: "[Social selling] is not filled with tools. I'm a huge believer in Process Before Platform. Meaning, you are applying a set of principles and processes before you care that this is LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. The easiest way to think about it is from the customer's perspective. All you're doing is applying what you have done in a traditional sales process or customer journey. You're just digitizing the very process and actions that you take along that journey to meet the customer where they're learning, which is online." 

Jamie: "Human capitalism is a showcase of where a priority is about to go, either in a business or out of a business. And if you track the people, you track the change. And if you follow the change, you'll have a much greater probability of being able to open a door and start a conversation and focus on where things are about to happen in a business."

Jamie: "We as people, we're connected to the stories that are closest to us. And so if you reverse-engineer your customers, you will realize that there are people who no longer work there, who are advocates, who go to other places who know your product and solutions. They will compete against that company and so forth. That's where doors get opened. That particular relationship map we call spheres of influence, is one of the fastest ways to connect company to company. That's why we do it."

Jamie: "Even if you have the greatest sales intelligence in the world, if your message sucks, it's going nowhere."

Learn more about Jamie  in the links below:

Learn more about Collin in the link below: 

Also, you can join our community by checking out If you're a sales professional looking to take your career to greater heights, please visit us at and set a call with Collin and Chris.

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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] All right. Welcome to another episode of sales transformation. Very excited to have Jamie shanks on today. Uh, I know that we're going to have a ton of fun in this episode. Uh, been looking forward to this one. Uh, if you don't know Jamie, he's the CEO of both pipeline signals and sales for life pipeline signals is a pioneer in relationship signal intelligence monitoring.

[00:00:48] Jamie, welcome to the show. Fantastic. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah. Yeah. This is a, is kind of crazy. We've never that we haven't crossed paths at some point. Right? Cause we play in the same circles. I w which is what we realized, uh, just today. Amazing. I was just looking at your podcasts. So listen, it's all the, all the friends in the sales community you're producing them.

[00:01:12] Yeah. Yeah. It's, uh, it's, it's been a lot of fun. Um, so I'm, I'm super excited to, to hear a little bit more about your story, your journey. So take us back a little bit, like where did your sales journey start? Or if you need to take us back a little bit further to give us some context. That's that's fine too.

[00:01:27] Yeah. Um, I mean, he probably heard this from every either entrepreneur or sales leader that we all delivered. Newspapers and cut grass. I think we all did that, but, uh, my journey as an entrepreneur around the sales community was I was a VP of sales at a SAS software company in Toronto, Canada. And they were in the data room space, kind of pioneering the space and we took it from zero to $3 million a year.

[00:01:54] Which got them into profitability. And frankly, I thought I was hot shit. So I decided at the tender age of 30 to quit my job and I would start sales consulting. And I would do that by helping. And my mind didn't think any bigger than this, I would help local Toronto. Sales organizations with an emerging topic at that time called sales 2.0 or insight, it was the emergence of insight sales, but I didn't know what I was doing.

[00:02:23] I didn't eat my own dog food. I didn't build a very sustainable sales pipeline. And so one of the short, about 18 months in, I was nearly bankrupt and I had a customer who, uh, owed me $35,000. Got caught with fraud and. I wasn't going to get paid. And this was days before my wedding. And ultimately it had me kind of confront there's a longer story to it and I've written about it, but it had me confront my demons that I was building an unsustainable business.

[00:02:53] I felt like a charlatan in the sales community space and I needed to think different. Okay. Kinda like doc brown, smacking his head on the toilet. And in inventing the flux capacitor in the movie back to the future, I had one of those moments and I. Basically saw an image that I drew and I called it the sphere of influence.

[00:03:16] And it was at that same time, I was experimenting with LinkedIn as a way of business development. And there were no online courses using LinkedIn. There was the word social selling hadn't been invented. And so it's believed that either myself or a few other people actually invented. And I don't know if I pioneered it or pirated social selling, but I took.

[00:03:38] And scaled a global sales training company. And for the last 10 years, I've kind of dominated the topic of social selling and teaching it to a quarter million sellers around the world, uh, five or 600 global customers. And, uh, that that's the beginning of the sales journey has been an educator specifically on the topic of modern digital selling for pro.

[00:04:03] Um, all right. And so just help me understand the timeline there. So from, you know, having some success going out entrepreneurship, and then things kind of falling apart with, you know, finding out some horrible news right before your wedding, January, 2010, I quit my job. Yeah. Why middle of 2011, I'm basically eating ketchup and onion sandwiches.

[00:04:28] And then, uh, by 2012, I self discovered what is now known as social selling built. Uh, I mean, when I say a curriculum, it was PowerPoint decks at the time, and then it scaled into video format and learning management systems and the whole bit. And then from there until now it's scaled a global sales team.

[00:04:50] Okay. All right. And I'm just going to ask the thing I'm most curious about why catch-up an onion sandwich. So my joke with my buddy at university, we got a roommate. I lived in an eight bedroom house in university. Um, none of us obviously had money as you do in the university, but this one guy had so little.

[00:05:14] That the thing that he would make that was like the last bottom of the barrel stuff in the fridge, but none in sandwiches. So when you're really, really poor you're down to the condiments and the got it. Right. I mean, I've heard people say like ramen soup or noodles, you know, I didn't know if that's like a, you know, I've never heard catch-up and onion sandwiches, so I'm, I'm sure people are like, why, why that, why not something else?

[00:05:40] Uh, all right. So. Now social selling. All right. This is a topic that, uh, a lot of people have different definitions for. And so I'm curious, like just kind of give us that, like, what is social media? Right. And then let's dig into kind of, you know, what are things people doing that they shouldn't be and how do you have social sell properly?

[00:06:07] And I know we're going to have a lot of different things to talk about in, in that container there. Um, but from your own experience as being one of the pioneers of social selling, uh, break it down for folks, like how do you social sell properly? Easiest way to think about it. And this is where people get.

[00:06:26] Is, it is not filled with it, uh, tools. I'm a huge believer in process before our process before platform, meaning you, you were applying a set of principles and processes long before you care that this is LinkedIn Twitter, Facebook, the easiest way to think. It's from the customer's perspective. All you're doing is, uh, is applying what you have done in a traditional sales process or customer journey.

[00:06:55] You are just digitizing the very process and actions that you do. Along that journey to meet the customer where they're learning, which is online and so that when you dive into that tactically, that means as a seller, there's basically a left and a right brain portion to selling the left side of your brand, collects data and intelligence to make informed decisions, right side of your brain creates engaging stories that compel the current.

[00:07:26] All that you're doing. If you're thinking about it from the lens of LinkedIn, you were acquiring information to make informed decisions, account selection, account prioritization, account planning, and then on the right side of your brain, you're engaging the customer in a bold and different way to help them along their journey.

[00:07:43] And so that means that you might be using LinkedIn for research Twitter, for engagement, video, for engagement. It's all part of the exact same sales process you've been doing back when you had the telephone or you're, hopefully you're still using the telephone, but telephone. You're just applying new, new applications within that very same construct or sales methodology.

[00:08:14] And so the easiest way to think about it is there is nothing new about social selling and my journey. And my goal with social selling was to make it so that the word wouldn't exist. One day, it's just sales, you know, 10 years ago. If you told if, imagine I marched into an office and I said to people, I'm going to teach you how to email.

[00:08:35] It'd be like, what are you talking about? Email is selling social selling is the same thing of not leveraging tools like LinkedIn or video in sales. It's insane. And especially in a B2B context. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I mean, anybody who has not adopted using. Social platforms as part of their sales process or video as part of their sales process are way behind the times.

[00:09:07] Okay. So let's give those people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they haven't had leadership, that's made that a priority or, you know, maybe, you know, there's unfortunately still a lot of people that just like, Hey, this is the way, boy. Right. We've always done it this way. Why would we change? Right. And so maybe they, you know, have that sort of leadership if we give them the benefit of the doubt, but let's talk more about the people who have got into video have got into using social platforms for their sales process, but haven't figured out how to make it work or don't know how to do.

[00:09:41] Properly. Cause that's what I see a lot of. Right. We S everybody talks about it. I mean, LinkedIn changed the amount of connections that you can have because so many people were abusing the platform and just spamming messages. Right. So it's clearly a problem and that still has only slowed it down and it's still pretty rampant and happening often.

[00:10:00] Yeah. So I'll talk about the biggest challenge that we were seeing. So imagine you certify a quarter million sellers, you see. Pattern recognition. And the biggest challenge that was emerging was actually let's let's park engagement for a second. And let's actually use the tool for the left side of our brain research to make informed decisions around the most vital decision that you can make, which is account selection, prioritization and segmentation.

[00:10:29] I'll kind of back up for a second. So gardener for 10 years has measured the percentage of sellers, making sure. And that was yodeling in the wrong direction. Down to less than 50% of sellers globally are making plan 50%. Aren't I've see, I've heard even lower. I've heard, it's even gotten into like the 30, mid 30% and it could be.

[00:10:50] And in fact, Gardner bought, I think they're in Los Angeles or San Francisco. They bought a firm called Topo that was actually measuring the opposite. They were measuring the sellers that work, making their quota and asking themselves why and the why. In their study found that 83.4% of sellers not making their quota was due to poor time management.

[00:11:12] When you Chuck all that up for time management is when a seller is randomly calling through the phone book or their, their vanilla, their vanilla ING through their list of accounts with no set. So the biggest challenge that we saw was that LinkedIn tools like LinkedIn are providing you incredible amounts of signals.

[00:11:35] These signals around relationships, such as people leaving your happy customers and going into a prospect last week. Okay. Somebody at a customer you're trying to engage, just hired an employee that came from your top competitor. So this human capital migration, this change of relationships and account the average seller, hadn't been able to look at how they monitor and.

[00:12:03] Their accounts or their total addressable market for these changes to make informed decisions as to, should I focus on account a today or account B? And because they hadn't been doing that, they just apply that principle of, oh, it's a Monday, I'll call these five accounts and on Tuesday I'll call these five weeks.

[00:12:23] And they're not in, right. And they're focusing more on, you know, sales is just a numbers game. Let's just play the numbers, make this many dials book. This many meetings build this much fluff in my pipeline. And that, that singular change of helping people realize that this tool is tracking. Where companies are investing priorities, going into a business.

[00:12:49] Cause human capital is, is a showcase of where a priority is about to go either in a business or out of a business. And if you track the people, you track the change, and if you follow the change, you'll have a much greater probability of being able to open a door and start a conversation and focus on where.

[00:13:10] Things are about to happen in a business like as a leading indicator, that is like the power, this tool offers. If you realized how to mine it. Um, so I'm curious why you picked that specific cell. Right. As something to pay attention to as a seller, to prioritize where you should put your time in or where you should spend your revenue generating activity time, um, is in, you gave the example of somebody leaving a company, somebody joining the company.

[00:13:42] Right? So for people that maybe are like clueless on how to even do this, where do they. The way that they start is actually, uh, the best way. And this is also being filmed on video too. So I've got a sheet of paper in front of me, and I used to always do this at sales kickoffs. What I'd like you to do is grab a pen and a sheet of paper and draw the logo or write the name.

[00:14:08] Of the best customer of yours right now, the happy, successful customer. So back to my story of how I found it, sales for life, I won our first customer in September of 2011. I won this market research company called vision critical, and I made them a deal. I would do the deal for basically next to nothing, but if I call, if somebody called for a reference, if I did great work and somebody called from.

[00:14:35] Even if it was their top competitor, they needed to give us a glowing reference, did a great work. And I was then stuck staring at a sheet of paper, asking my. Who cares. Who's going to care about this story of this great deal that I just did with vision critical. And this is the invention of this thing called the sphere of influence.

[00:14:56] I stared at this name, I stared at the name, and then I thought about it from the context of the customer. And I reverse, I just drew a spider web. So all that I did is I took a sheet of paper and I drew these spider webbing shapes and I asked myself, well, what would be the companies and people that would care about that?

[00:15:14] Those are people that used to work at vision critical people that compete against vision, critical people that are connected to the chief revenue officer of vision critical. And all of a sudden it came to light that we, as people are. We're connected to the stories that are closest to us. And so if you reverse engineer your customers, you will realize that there are people that no longer work there who are advocates to go.

[00:15:42] Other places that have, who know your product and solution, there are people that compete against that company and, and so forth. That's where doors get opened. That particular relationship map we call the sphere of influence is one of the fastest way. To connect company to company that's that's, that's why I would do.

[00:16:03] Wow. All right. So just to kind of break that down for a second, right? Typical seller, um, telling a story of big, critical, right. To people that don't care. So reverse engineer. Who does care about that story and then focusing your time on those people is the way to manage your time properly as a seller and focus on the right activities.

[00:16:32] And you can replicate that. Again, and again, and again, others can't use cases and it's a different, it's a different story. It's a different sphere of influence. And so I love that as you get an email that says, we worked with Harley Davidson and McDonald's and American airlines, and you're like, I'm in the podcast industry.

[00:16:51] I have nothing to do with any of these companies. I don't care about fast food or this or that email said by the way, uh, I also work with Jake over at scale that I work with Brandon Moore, DASSI over These are your customers that. Uh, lead podcasting for now, all the sudden you are one degree away that sphere of influence catches your attention.

[00:17:14] And you're like, Hey, if it works for them, it must work for me. I mean, that connection. Yeah. I mean, I think the challenge here, food pick on salespeople a little bit, which I can cause I'm a sales person for life, right? Uh, is. It's a little bit laziness, right? We all want to use these templates that are provided, like, okay, here's the logos.

[00:17:34] We mentioned. Here's the brands we made. And we just use that in all of the messaging, but if you take the time to craft very specific messaging for very specific stories, for very specific people that actually care about that story, or it's actually going to resonate with them, it's a game changer. Well, and this is why we invented pipeline signals.

[00:17:59] So for 10 years at sales for life, I've been teaching people to fish. Walking out onto the dock, holding their fishing rod and showing them the power that a tool like LinkedIn, uh, presents a seller to be able to capture this sales intelligence for their group of accounts or total addressable market.

[00:18:16] What was happening was hundreds and hundreds of sellers over years would write in support tickets. Let me get this straight. You just showed me how to do all this. Could you not just do this for me now? When you sell a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So for years I would say no, no, no. But then COVID.

[00:18:35] And Amar my business partner, I looked at each other and we had kind of bought back our lives. Again, we're not on 80 flights a year for five years, we looked at each other and said, hold on. You know, the problem that our sellers are having, what if we did this for them? And so pipeline signals is like a sister company to sales for life.

[00:18:54] And what it does is it actually monitors and minds, all accounts in the world that matters. You as a seller and then it presents these signals directly to you in your Salesforce or HubSpot or dynamics as a push task notification alert. That's very prescriptive that says John Smith just left company a, he was a customer in the year, 2020 21.

[00:19:20] And here's where he's gone today. Here are the next four steps you should take. So we've created that, knowing that a seller just wants the answers to that. They don't want to do all the mining for themselves. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I'm the type of guy that wants the answers to the tests. Unfortunately. And I get that.

[00:19:39] I get that, like I say, it's kinda like, okay, before you were showing people where to, you know, how to fish. Yeah. But now it's like, we've taught you how to fish and here's the exact spot where you're going to have the success Alicia for you and to hold the net, you get the, hold the beer at the end of the dock and all bring them in for you.

[00:20:01] Yeah. I love it. I love it. Um, so how's that been going? Fantastic. So we launched the company eight months ago. Uh, we've just finished our pre-seed series. Ours are no series a pre-seed round and a little ahead of yourself. Why are you thinking that the seed found in the, in the series a, so we raised our pre-seed, uh, with great customers.

[00:20:26] You can see a kind of global enterprise global mid-market customers who now their sellers are receiving these task alerts, either on a weekly or monthly basis. And they love it because it's doing a couple of things. One let's look at it from marketing to sales, from a marketing perspective, 85. What we've found is that 85% of our customer's accounts did not have those key stakeholders in their CRM because these are all job changes.

[00:20:54] These are people brand new to their job in the last 30 days. So the average seller wasn't, who is typically single-threaded in their seats. Was it populating their CRM with all this change. That's kind of the use case. One use case to now we're campaigning. One of our customers found that when they were doing email campaigns, they were receiving a 12%.

[00:21:17] Um, reading response rate and engagement rate. Well, that's jumped to 38% now. Why? Because they're engaging people that actually know the company because they came from their customer base. And then that leads to use case number three, booking meetings at scale, because you're taking your, it's almost like you're reducing your cost to customer acquisition because you are now focused on people who have an intimate knowledge of either your business as a past customer.

[00:21:43] Or if you're looking at just raw. You have people who are the most pliable and, uh, and most interested in change in their business because it's been touted that when an executive takes a job and the first hundred days on the role, they're trying to deploy up to 70% of their remitted budget within that first a hundred days, either mentally or physically actually deploying it.

[00:22:08] So they're actually trying to think about the people process technology changes. They need to. To make impact in their business in Q1. So how do you really get in front of them? Right? When they just start their new role. Um, and so that, I mean, that timing is essential, right? Because are you going to be the solution in that first hundred days or not the seeds of inception?

[00:22:33] And do you want to be there first and at scale and never miss a signal? That's what we do. And so his job changed. The primary signal that you track or the only signal. So think of it as it's all based on human capital migraines. But a job change can come in three different formats format. One, it's a relationship from a past customer format, two, it's a relationship connected to your competitor.

[00:23:01] So that's a huge yellow and red flag. So it helps avoid accounts or minimize time spent in that account. And then number three is we'll call it pending relationships. Meaning I don't have one yet, but they're new to the role or they've left or they went to the same college or university. Is that. And I have something there from a compelling event standpoint, and a reason to reach out, but I yet to have formed a relationship with them from the past.

[00:23:29] Hmm. All right. I love all of this. Now. I want to dig into something because this is probably, so let's say you have all of these signals you're using, maybe you're doing it manually because at some point you and your team taught them how to fish, right. Or maybe they're like, okay, I know how to fish, but you know, don't know the great fishing spots.

[00:23:48] Yeah. Right. So these signals can, can help them. Um, Bigger challenge. I think even if you give them all that information or even do it for them, a lot of people still don't know how to reach out properly. So let's dig into that a little bit. So that is where we poured it over our sales for life IP on engagement, best practices, and are slowly building out resource libraries, emailing best practices, LinkedIn InMail, best practices from sales for life into pipeline signals because this is the first.

[00:24:22] Kind of thing that we've encountered. So we built the technology. We're now sending signals, sellers are engaging, but then we started asking, hold on a second, a customer because we do these monthly feedback loops. Do you mind showing me your cadence that you send out of sales loft or out of

[00:24:42] And then you look at their messaging and you're like, well, you're kind of running into a brick wall here because your message sucks. And so we then have to step back and bring in our enablement side of our brain from sales for life and say, let's, let's do a little bit of coaching here and to look at this from the lens of the customer and think through messaging.

[00:25:02] And I have a style that I adhere to if you're interested, but yeah, we've had to bring that into the business because that is to your point. Such an impasse that companies you can have with the greatest sales intelligence in the world. But if your message sucks, it's going nowhere. Yeah. And then it's kinda like, oh, well the signals don't work.

[00:25:24] And that is a real challenge. Long-term business from a churn perspective, it's like, you know, shooting the messenger like, oh, this must not work. Yeah. Yeah. Well, this is incredible. Uh, Jamie, it's been a lot of fun having you on, uh, learning about this. What's the best place for people to learn more. Um, when it comes to, uh, signal monitoring, uh, go to pipeline

[00:25:50] You can reach out to me on LinkedIn as well. When it comes to an enablement side of training on social selling, we have Salesforce. Awesome. We will drop the links there in the show notes for everybody. If you enjoyed today's episode, please write us a review, share the show with your friends. It really does help me out.

[00:26:07] And I'm also always listening for your feedback. You can go to sales, and drop me a voice DM, and we will get back to you. 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 page.

[00:26:25] Head over to sales, and crush your numbers on your loadable. Yeah. It's free sales Send me a DM with your best pitch and mentioned this ad. And I might even give you free access to our best templates.