Sales Hustle is now Sales Transformation
May 21, 2021

Episode #100 Transforming Sales Into A More Inclusive, Respected Profession with Leslie Venetz

Joining Collin Mitchell in this episode of the Sales Hustle Podcast is Leslie Venetz. Let’s hear from Leslie as she divulges some sales tips in this episode and talk about how to handle bad advice from sales leadership.

Leslie Venets is a motivated and dedicated sales leader, with a powerful history of success in new business development & sales leadership.

Leslie’s expertise has been in event sales for Fortune 1000 senior-level executives, PaaS, consultative sales & Chicagoland SME sales. In addition to sales expertise, she also have in-depth knowledge related to public speaking, fundraising, and non-profit events. Leslie is eager to learn and grow so she can continue to share her knowledge and skills with her peers. She is passionate about B2B Sales & Marketing. 

Find out more and reach out to Leslie Venetz on the following links:

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Episode 100 - Leslie Venetz

Welcome to the sales hustle. The only no BS podcast, where we bring you the real raw uncut experiences from sales change makers across various industries. The only place where you can get what you're looking for. To up your sales game today's episode is brought to you by sales cast sales cast helps sales professionals transform the relationship building process and win their dream clients.

[00:00:30] I'm your host, Colin Mitchell. All right. What is happening? Sales hustlers. Welcome to another episode today. I've got Leslie Vanette who is currently the director, a new member expansion for a British research and advisory firm. She's also the founder of sales team builder, Leslie consults with businesses to create sales, playbooks, and training that leave the traditional.

[00:00:55] Hustle culture behind instead of focusing on putting the customer first, uh, Leslie recently published the unleash, your potential, a B2B sales playbook, and is also an avid content creator on Tik TOK as sales tips talk, uh, in her free time. You can find Leslie on a soul cycle, bike reading, enjoying life theater and music, or back in her home state of Montana, reconnecting with nature.

[00:01:24] Leslie, welcome to sales hustle, gray column. Thanks so much for having me. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for coming on. Really appreciate it. I'm excited. We've got some topics here. We're going to talk about something that is pretty recent and relevant for you. Why sell me this pen is a lazy interview question. And then we're going to talk a little bit about how to handle bad advice from sales leadership.

[00:01:48] I know I've gotten plenty of bad sales advice, uh, especially early on when I first started in sales and I didn't even know it was bad advice, so I'm sure there's tons of, yeah. I mean, when you're. We're just getting started in sales. You're just happy to get any advice you're like. Oh, sure. Okay. I'll do that.

[00:02:06] Um, I remember I even was one of those people that would just like listen in on the sales floor and just start saying things that other people were saying, because. I didn't know what else to say. Um, and then there was somebody who came along and was like, Hey, you probably shouldn't say that. And I'm like, why?

[00:02:21] It really feels like it's working. And he said, because it's not true,

[00:02:29] just that I'm like, but then I went for a second. I was like, Yeah, but it's working, you know, um, because there's so much pressure to perform when you first start getting in, in sales, like, you know, you probably make some compromises, you wouldn't normally, but anyway, before we get started here, just tell the sales hustlers, the short version of your sell story.

[00:02:52] Yeah, absolutely. And I'm especially excited about this conversation because I talk a lot about hustle, culture, you and your sail hustle community. Talk a lot about hustle culture, and we kind of come at it from different perspective. Maybe, maybe explicitly we define it differently. I think we have the same philosophy behind it.

[00:03:13] So we're going to find out today. Yeah, exactly. I'm excited to talk through it. Uh, my background, so I. Stumbled into sales, like so many of us do, I decided I loved it. Um, made a ton of mistakes, uh, but also have had some huge wins, which is kind of what sales is all about. Uh, the adrenaline rush of figuring it out, getting those big clients, getting those big deals.

[00:03:37] And, uh, you know, as I left my twenties and, and went into my thirties, I really started thinking about sales as not just a job as a profession. And so a lot of what I work on now is like, how can I support a more inclusive sales community? What can I be doing? Or, or how can I be working with others to just send a message of.

[00:04:00] Like sales as a respected profession. Um, so that's what I'm doing all over sales tips. When you say that. Yeah, it's important. I think it's important work and it's something I'm really proud of. So it's easy to get excited about. Yeah. Cause I mean, it's still relevant today in, in less so in a lot of cases, but there's a lot of people that were like, Oh, ashamed to like be in sales, right.

[00:04:28] Like, you know, they don't want to tell their friends are in sales or you're out. And you're like, they kind of mumbled that they're in sales or they dress up their title to be something really fancy. So it's hiding the fact that they're in sales and you know, it's because I think of a lot of this. Bad advice from sales leadership that sales has gotten a bit of a bad rap in a lot of cases.

[00:04:52] I think that's spot on. I mean, even look at my title, I go by new member expansion, not sales director, and at the end of the day, I'm a sales director. So I, I mean, I think something that you said right at the top of the interview was sometimes maybe when we're starting out in sales, we make compromises.

[00:05:11] Yeah, that don't align with our core values that we maybe wouldn't make. If, if it wasn't a profession where there was so much pressure where you every single day had to fight for, for your job. Um, so I think part of it is that sales really lacks the psychological safety that a lot of other professions have.

[00:05:33] And. To your point. We also get a boatload of bad advice. Um, in my career I found that there's, it seems to be a talk track that there is Oh way to sell. And it took me so many years to figure out that that's just nonsense. Like it's absolute BS. There are so many different ways to sell. Um, and. What makes a great salesperson as somebody that can like follow their intuition that can create their unique voice and then use that within kind of sales best practices to get the job done.

[00:06:10] Yeah, no, I love that. And there's so many, I mean, I know when I started, it was like, Hey, here's the script. This is what we say. And if you went off script, it was like, what the hell are you doing? Yeah. Yeah. That's not part of the script. What are you doing? Right. And taking away like the creativity in and the autonomy of, of, of a person in their role can create a lot of stress and pressure and.

[00:06:41] You become less confident. I mean, there's so much damage. I think that gets created in that sort of culture that people are not even aware of. And, and it's not even, I wouldn't even blame the manager. I'm not gonna call them a sales leader. I'm gonna call him a manager that I don't even know if I blame them because they're just doing the best they can with whatever they've been taught.

[00:07:06] Absolutely. I mean, when I was a brand new sales manager with no training, I just went from top performer to manager, which I know is a very common story. I did what I saw other people doing. I tested things that didn't work. I tested things that you did work to find, to find my path, but, you know, I think often the process for new sales managers is just test things out and hope they work.

[00:07:35] Um, so I, yeah, I think that that's absolutely right. And I, you know, I was sharing a story with you before we hit record, um, that, you know, when I was a new in sales, I was just happy that like the, the experience people knew my name. I, you know, I was willing to take advice from, from everybody because they had done it.

[00:07:56] They had been successful. I felt like there was something I could learn from everybody. I think to an extent that's true. Um, but I was sharing a story that when I was. You know, maybe 25, 26 or a brand new manager. I went to my boss's boss and said, Hey, I, you know, I'd love to hear your advice on, on how you think I can continue to grow in this company or how I can be a better leader in this company.

[00:08:20] And his advice was that I was too loud and it was a bit off putting. And at the time 25 year old, I was, you know, new to Chicago from Montana. I was like, Oh, okay. I guess I'll. I'll work on that. And now, you know, a decade later I've realized that that energy and that passion is part of what, like my sales.

[00:08:45] Yeah. And it might not be a good fit for everybody. And that's totally okay. Right. But if, if you're getting advice in your sales hustlers, listen to this, because if you're getting advice from your. Sales manager or as Andy Paul likes to say your sales boss. Yeah. Um, then it's, it's telling you to not be who you are then get your resume sharpened up because you are never going to perform at your highest level or be the best version of yourself to serve your clients.

[00:09:26] If you can't be yourself. Right. And if that's loud and boisterous and passionate, that's fine because there's a lot of people that, that is going to align with that. That is who they want to work with. And now there's some basics. Like you need to be able to, you know, have a sales process and run a discovery and ask good questions and all of those other things, but you should be able to.

[00:09:53] You know, be curious enough and authentic enough to, to be yourself in whatever that process looks like. Absolutely. And you know, it's so interesting column because everything that you just outlined having a sales process, being able to overcome objections for the most part, those are teachable. Yes. Those are our core sales fundamentals that we can train and coach on, but we can't train and coach on is curiosity.

[00:10:19] His passion is leading with authenticity. So I think often the bad advice that people get is that their soft skills, which are truly what make them remarkable and unique are too much. Um, and I just don't buy it. Um, and now you can nurture those skills, right? Like you can provide an environment or a workplace that allows people to, to, to utilize those.

[00:10:52] But if you're giving this sort of advice, like you got where you're too loud, Leslie, and, and, and you're not allowing those people to be themselves. They're not going to be very confident. They're going to be questioning themselves can be so much self, negative talk and doubt that they're going to suck at their role.

[00:11:09] It's so true. Sales require so much intuition and that type of sales, Bossert sales management forces, people to doubt their core intuition. Like they're, they're really at conflict with one another. Yeah. Yeah. And so tell me, I got to ask this question because there's been, I don't know, you've, might've broke the internet with this, but you're on your way to breaking the internet.

[00:11:38] Why sell me this pen is a lazy interview question. And maybe for those who don't. Uh, who don't follow sales tips, talk, um, give them a little context and then let's, let's dive into that. Yeah, absolutely. And also just kudos to you for walking through sales tips. Talk better on paper that when I started saying it out loud, but it's too late, I'm committed.

[00:12:04] Um, so I was in a clubhouse room in March. The sales room and I heard one of the panelists and all of the panelists were like, middle-aged white men. I heard one of the panelists say that. So sell me the pen, just gold standards, such a great question. And all of the other panelists chimed in and Oh yeah.

[00:12:25] That's that's it. I was floored. I was absolutely floored and it like really shocked me that not a single person in that room had taken the time to think about the message behind the question. So I made a tech talk about it, a very, very simple tick talk that just said, I think it's a lazy question we can do better.

[00:12:49] Like who are you trying to hire the Wolf of wall street? Hmm. On Tuesday, the actual Wolf of wall street did a reply video like Jordan Belfort, the actual Wolf of wall street did a reply video. So it's been, I mean, surprising, I'm a small creator, he's a huge crater and a celebrity. How did he find my video?

[00:13:11] Why did my opinion upset him so much that he decided to make a reply by video, uh, but also a really exciting process because I've had a chance in the comments on, on LinkedIn and on Tik talk to work through with a lot of people. Why it is a lazy question. So it's been an exciting week. Yeah. Okay. So, so give it to us.

[00:13:33] What, what have you learned in this journey of upsetting the Wolf of wall street himself? Oh no. Will I ever survive? I think. That it is inappropriate to continue using a question 30 years after it was sort of originally used that. So closely hearkens back to that old school sales bro culture. That's so closely tied to sexism and this context that is explicitly tied to sales as a profession, where the way to get ahead is to lie, to cheat, to steal, to manipulate the question itself.

[00:14:12] Isn't a bad question, but when there are so many other ways that you can uncover a person's ability to, to understand value or to understand their sales philosophy, why is a question like selling me the pen still being touted as a gold standard question in today's sales cultures. Hmm. Yeah, it is. It's definitely makes you think a bit because there might be some sales houses are listening that are still using this question in their interview process, or maybe some individual contributors that have had to try to sell somebody on a pin.

[00:14:51] Right. And it does give into that culture that you mentioned that old school sales mentality that people will still. Until they, you know, make it to their grave. Agree. That is the best way to sell, which is to tell a lie, manipulate and persuade for your own personal benefit. Right. Which has all of the things that have given sales a bad name.

[00:15:13] Right. And the, the, the interesting thing about it is like, let's see, I don't even know if you need a pen. Right. Maybe you need a pencil. I don't know. I could ask you a ton of questions. So determine if like, so I think when people ask that question, they're really wanting them to like, do their best of persuade you that this is the best pen, right.

[00:15:34] Where it's like now this kind of new, newer generation of sales and, you know, people that are, you know, kind of spreading the good word of sales. Now these days with like, be like, I don't know if you need a pin, like maybe you need a pencil. Maybe you need some fancy digital version of a pen, right? Like, I don't know.

[00:15:54] I need to ask you a bunch of questions and understand what you're trying to solve here before I decide if I even want to sell you this pen. Maybe I'm not the best fit for you. And it's just a total different lens of sales than what a lot of people are, you know, we're we're brought up or, or, or come from, or have been taught in the past spot on it's it's the.

[00:16:14] The transformation from seller centric, sales techniques, to buyer centric, sales techniques. I'm not going to sell you the pen. I'm going to understand whether or not you need the pen in the first place. And if that's what we're trying to uncover is the interviewee's ability to distinguish between seller centric versus buyer centric.

[00:16:36] There are a million other questions we can ask that don't send the message that we have a culture. That is okay with line that we haven't a culture that's okay. With excluding women that we have a, you know, a culture that idolizes. Uh, no in criminal. Yeah. And so I liked that. You said though, because when we were first hopped on here, I was like, eh, this is a dumb question.

[00:17:04] It's a bad question. And you're like, no, it's not, it's a lazy question. Right. And I liked that. You said it's not a bad question. It's a lazy question. And it, because. I mean the type of seller that I would be looking for could answer that question in a very different way, but the standard or the tone of that question is give it your best shot of telling me why this is the best fricking pen ever that I should buy.

[00:17:29] Right. And that's where, how most people are going to proceed to answer that because they think that's what you do. Yep. Yeah. I think we're just better than that. Can't like sales, hustlers. Can't we just be better than that. Yeah. So if somebody asks you to sell them a pen, I challenge you to ask them for not such a lazy question.

[00:17:52] I love that challenge. I hope people report back on that. Try that out. Or, or, or even just take a different stay. It's like, Hey, I don't know if you need a pin. Like, what, what are you trying to account for you in, don't try to spur a pen. Don't try to sell them a pin. Be curious to find out if they even need the damn pin.

[00:18:12] Exactly. And there, the curiosity that's coming back, and I think that's such a thread of what makes a great sales person here in 2021. Are you leading with curiosity? Yeah. And so I know that part of what you do is like building sales, playbooks and things like that. Right. So persuading people to buy the pen is probably not in any playbook that you've ever had your hands on, but what sort of things do you work with on folks in building out these playbooks and, you know, just kind of give us some high level, you know, what are those look like?

[00:18:46] Yeah, for sure. So I just delivered a project a couple of weeks ago. That was so unique. It was for a fertilizer company. So a little bit out of, I would probably for, for you and I, for your listeners, kind of out of the norm of what you would think of when you think of, of creating sales playbooks, um, but what it did call, it was so deeply highlight for me.

[00:19:12] How transferable sales skills are and how transport verbal those sales fundamentals are. So when I'm, I'm creating playbooks and when I'm helping teams refresh their sort of talk tracks the way they think about communicating with clients, the way they handle objections, first and foremost, which I've already hinted at is that the importance of that very buyer.

[00:19:35] Centric approach, like, which would you want to get this email? Because it's kind of shit. Maybe we can just make it a little bit more relevant, um, and, and make it about the buyer instead of a list of all the things about your company and your location. And so I think some of it's just that, that simplicity of, of mindset.

[00:19:56] Shift. And how do we send emails and talk to our buyers in a way that they should care about, um, and then showing them that you care about them 1000%. Yeah, yeah. Yep. Absolutely. Because there's still so many sales talk tracks and email and LinkedIn DMS that it's still all about. The seller or the company or the product or the features of the benefits.

[00:20:23] And it's like, there's just less about, I like just, I like using super short copy that just poses a super simple question that shows like I'm actually curious about something and, and kind of just getting straight to the point because I get tons of bad messaging sent to me all of the time. And I always appreciate it when somebody just simple, curious, It's straight to the point and I've seen a lot of success with that.

[00:20:49] I reply to those types of messages. More people are starting to use that I recently started experimenting with, um, one word, subject lines. I think I saw Jason Bay post something about that. Um, and yeah, one word, subject lines have been working really well with the outreach that I've been doing lately. So I'll give people two websites that they can use for free.

[00:21:16] One is called subject line greater, which that one's sales hacker, which I'm like the biggest fan of sales hacker. And there's another one called. Cold email a great, well, subject line greater is the one I use the most. And it will grade your email on I'd like eight different things to tell you how responsible it is.

[00:21:36] Um, but to your point about one word, subject lines right now, the best in class advice is two words or 20 characters. And I challenged your listeners to go back and look at the last time emails they sent and to see how many of them were two words or less or 20 characters or less yeah. In the subject line.

[00:22:00] Yeah. So that's, that's a big one that I use. I also will give a shout out to another free tool called boomerang. I have a plugin for outlook and for Gmail and that test responsibility. And when you talk about just sending really punchy emails that presses you to say, all right, I have about four sentences to work with.

[00:22:18] How can I make sure it's. Personalized to the individual that it's relevant. Um, and that it's, it's going to get the point across. Um, so I, I work a lot in the playbooks with just kind of having that, that buyer centric approach. And then I also work really hard to give people four or five, six different ways that they could respond to a question or an objection and always work through like the logic behind.

[00:22:47] Answering so that they can find something that they feel really comfortable and confident with, that does align to their sort of core values and their unique voice. So it's, even if it's a loud, even if it's a loud voice, even if it's loud, Yeah. Even if it's LA, I didn't know you were such a cold email geek.

[00:23:06] I, um, I still, I mean, this might be an unpopular opinion in the new age of social selling and content market, which I do a ton of that as well. But I will never give up on cold emails and cold calls. No, no, no, never called this morning. I cold called yesterday for about an hour. Uh, I enjoy cold calling as weird as that sounds.

[00:23:32] And I never used to consider myself a great copywriter, but I've recently gotten more into that. Especially as short copy has become more popular. I'm like I can do short copy. When, when, when long caught longer form copy was kind of what people were doing and was working, it was not for me cause I don't consider myself a great writer.

[00:23:54] Um, uh, but the shortcut, like I can pique some interest or create some curiosity or pose some good questions, uh, in, you know, two to four sentences. That's, you know, and that's the stuff that's working right now. I don't know how long that will be the case. Um, but it is. And, um, and I have a lot of fun with, well, attention spans are diminishing, like exponentially diminishing.

[00:24:17] So I think it's a trend that's going to stick around for a while. And I certainly think it's a skill set that salespeople should. To work on that, that your listeners are probably already working on. And it, I think writing short copy emails is a lot more fun because you have to challenge yourself in a much different way.

[00:24:37] How can I make the biggest impact and create the most exciting possible message. When I only have three sentences to do it. So it keeps us on our toes. Yeah. Yeah. Do you use sense? We've made our way to this topic. We'll just spend a little bit of time here. Um, do you use video in your cold outreach? I don't.

[00:24:59] Well, yeah, half the time to start. I don't. I like to use it. I like to use video in the second touch. Yeah. I am very privileged. And then I have SDR is supporting me. So most of the cold outreach, full transparency is not done by me. I have taken it upon myself to create and run my own sales loft campaigns, because I like being connected to that.

[00:25:25] And I create a lot of our, our cold copy. Like I create the, the cadences that are used. I'm just not. The one sending them. Um, I've done video a little bit on LinkedIn. Yeah. But no, I mean, I felt like I got, again, an email from drift, like at least once a week asking me if I'm ready. Yeah. Pretty big. Come on.

[00:25:47] Yeah. I use it. I'm also right now selling to chief procurement officers. And I, I think sometimes like the techniques that would work for me. Like, if you were a sales person selling to another sales person and you send me a video, you're like awesome calling. Like I I'm gonna, I'm gonna reward you by responding to say, think this is a cool new, creative technique.

[00:26:13] I've found in my experience that a lot of those techniques do not translate to like fortune 500 C-suite it comes on. It comes up cheesy. If it's not done right. Yeah, I would challenge that a little bit. I would challenge that a little bit because I think that they don't get as much of that sort of outreach or that personalization in a video.

[00:26:37] Uh, so it really breaks their day up. Like, wow. It stands out even more. Um, but it's gotta be short. It's gotta be properly executed. There's gotta be a level of personalization, not just personalized because. You personalized to check a box, but like personalized in a way that's like tying into like why they should give a shit to talk to you.

[00:27:01] Right. So it takes a, a level of skill and creativity, um, that, that, that takes some time to, to master. Yeah. Not just personalized but relevant. Yeah. Not just, yeah. Personalized and relevant. Tied in together. Right. Um, where there's, uh, there's a, there's a link and you can't always find that takes time to find, like, don't just assume they like a certain sports team or this or the cause or whatever, like tie in what you're personalized into what you do or why they should talk.

[00:27:37] Yeah. Josh, Josh Braun posted about that recently that like, if all you're doing is sending somebody an email that says. Hi, uh, hi, Colin, another meeting, um, like, hi Colin. I see that you, I also went to the university of Montana. Anyways, I sell a B2B SAS platform. Like you're, you're probably hurting yourself worse than if you didn't just send it an email.

[00:28:01] So I think that's a really important distinction is that it has to be personalized and relevant and there has to be a link for the message, uh, for the message to translate. So you're telling me, I shouldn't just start. Like sending random tick talks to CPOs, you know, maybe, I mean, I wouldn't say that's a terrible idea, but I wouldn't say it's a great idea AB test it and see what happens.

[00:28:29] Crazier things have happened. It might just fricking work. You never know. You never know. As long as you're being your self and. It could work. Um, but yeah, you know, the thing is, is I think that, um, when you're now, if, if you can't find a link to tie that personalization and relevancy together, like I'm totally okay with, uh, using humor.

[00:28:55] Like I love using humor. So if you can use humor with the personalization just to catch their attention and even like, call that out, that can work too. I like that, actually, it's funny that you say that because I got an email last week and it wasn't pertinent all, it's not something that I have any purchasing control over and it's not something my company would, would even buy.

[00:29:18] So a bit misaligned there, but the email was so original and it was so darn funny that I wrote back and was like, Hey, I'm not a DM on this. There isn't a DM here. Like don't waste your time. But. I love your copy and I hope it's working for you. Yeah. Yeah. Your, do you have like a top tip to tip? I have an example.

[00:29:41] So, um, so we were reaching out to insurance companies, right? And we were looking for like a cheesy joke. To use, uh, and we came across some article or something that said, uh, there used to be a department store called, like JC Penny's. I don't think they that pretty sure they don't exist today anymore, but they used to sell insurance.

[00:30:02] Inside of JC Penney's, which I thought was hilarious. So the opening line of the email was just like, Hey, we were looking for a cheesy joke to catch your attention and came across the fact that JC Penney's sold insurance. And there was like a laughing face and it was enough to catch their attention to then get them to read the second line because they thought it was interesting.

[00:30:25] And it was honest. And. Um, you know, it would have, it was better than just sending some sort of cheesy joke. And so that first line caught their attention and then it was a little bit of personalization and some relevancy and it performed extremely well. I love that. I'm also pretty sure they're still are JC penny and I think there's one in the town.

[00:30:44] Right. I don't know. I don't think if there's any left. I don't know if there's very many, um, Yeah. And maybe they still sell insurance. I don't know. I don't know if you need insurance. JC penny. Uh, Leslie, this has been a ton of fun. Let's let's wrap things up here. Tell the sales hustlers where they can follow you, where they can learn more, all of that good stuff or any final thoughts you wanna leave?

[00:31:12] Yeah. This was a treat. Thank you for having me for anybody that wants to connect and continue the conversation. Definitely find me on sales tips talk. I feel like I bring a lot more of my authentic self to that channel, but I also spend too much time on LinkedIn. So send a, send an invite to connect on.

[00:31:33] LinkedIn mentioned that, uh, that you saw me chatting with Colin and I'll be happy. To connect. Awesome. We'll drop the links there in the show notes, sales hustlers. If you enjoyed today's episode, write us a review, share the show with your friends and we're listening for your feedback. Thank you for tuning into this episode of sales hustle.

[00:31:53] Are you a sales professional? Looking to take your sales career to the next level. If the answer is yes, then I want you to go over to sales,, check us out. And if you feel that you are ready, set up a time to talk with me and my co-founder Chris, I'm your host column Mitchell. And if you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a review and share the podcast with your friends.