In this episode of Sales Hustle, Collin’s special guest is Eric Konovalov, the founder and CEO of The Goal Guide. We will hear all about how Eric transitioned from being in the Marine Corps. going in the sales world. Eric will share tons of nuggets in this episode that will definitely help up your sales game.
Some of the principles that Eric talked about in this episode are the work ethics you must possess to level up your sales game. Just good old fashioned discipline where you learn, you’ll know and just straight up hard work.
Some of the basic elements that Eric discussed is the understanding the importance of always prospecting for new opportunities. How creating a brand for yourself will definitely help you succeed in the sales world.
To learn more about Eric Konovalov, you can connect with him via LinkedIn. You can also listen to Eric’s podcast on all platforms. Just look for Lead, Sell, Grow. If you’re looking for a good sales process, B2B sales secrets available on Amazon.
If you’re listening to the Sales Hustle podcast, please subscribe, share, and we’re listening for your feedback. If you are a sales professional looking to take your sales career to the next level, please visit us at https://salescast.co/ and set a time with Collin and co-founder Chris.
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Episode 9 - Eric Konovalov
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.
[00:00:27] Process and win their dream clients. I'm your host, Colin Mitchell. What is happening in sales hustlers. I have a special guest for you today, Eric, of all of he is the founder of the goal guide. He is also a fellow podcaster of lead cell grow and he is the author of the BW sell secrets program. He's going to bring nothing but sales fire for you guys today.
[00:00:58] I'm super excited to introduce him, dig into a little bit of his story and tell you what he is. Teaching folks in sales today. Eric, welcome to the show. How you doing? Hey, doing great. You're the first person that didn't mess my name up Collin. So I appreciate it. I don't want to take too much credit. Cause you know, you did give me a little bit of coaching prior to, and I think I did a pretty good job of not butchering it.
[00:01:22] Great. You did great. Thanks everybody for having me and listening to the show today. Yeah. Thanks. I had to have you on here, man. You are just through and through sales. You're doing so much for the sales community. So I want to just. Briefly, tell me the short version of your story, of how you got into sales and then let's save some of the nuggets of, of what you're teaching folks in sales.
[00:01:46] Yeah, so I, um, after high school I joined the Marine Corps and spent eight years in the Marines. When I was getting out, I went to my commanding officer. We had a really good relationship. I said, sir, I've been in here since high school. I have no idea what to do when I get up. He looked at me, they called me K, because they couldn't pronounce my name either.
[00:02:05] He said, Kate, with all the bullshit you sold me, you got to get it to sales. So I'm like, okay, I don't know what sales is, but this is back in 2006. I didn't know what sales is. So, uh, I got out, started applying for sales jobs, and every Aflac agency called me to come work for them. Uh, but I ended up actually getting a position with an office technology company in Baltimore.
[00:02:29] And it just went from there. So that's, that was my gateway into sales. Okay. And what were you selling there at your first sales job? Uh, copiers sharp copiers too, you know, as VTB knocking on doors and coming in selling copiers and back then, it was like they just were going from analog to digital. So there was a lot of excitement going on and some cool stuff you could sell.
[00:02:54] Yeah. Yeah. Wow. That's interesting. Um, so that industry has changed a lot. Um, I actually, my first sales job was selling aftermarket supplies, so I know you're I know that space fairly well. Oh yeah, absolutely. That's a tough gig. So what are so. Yeah, it is, but you know what, it's humbling and it teaches you a lot of people that from that industry, which I know a lot of folks in that industry or similar industries, there's some really good, you know, basics that you learn, you know, um, just like really just hard work and like just really true cold calling, whether it's over the phone or door knocking or whatever, what are some key takeaways from your first sales job that still stick with you today?
[00:03:42] Oh, my goodness. You know, they, the mentality that, you know, you have to go out there and VC, you know, cult, you mentioned cold calling the way I cold call today is way different than the way it was done in 2006. But, uh, you know, gotta reach out to customers. You got to make sure that you're scheduling the time to prospect because that's the easiest things to not schedule for your week.
[00:04:08] And then three months down the road, there's nothing in the pipeline. So I think the one thing I took away is the work ethic in sales, understanding the importance of always prospecting for new opportunities that are going to come in down the road. Okay. And do you think that some of your, your discipline from being in the military really helped you in your sales career and having, you know, be able to be able to be consistent and show up and have that discipline?
[00:04:34] Yeah, I think so. I think, um, There, there was definitely discipline from the military. However, the military also hindered it. Yeah. And I'll tell you why in the military, you had a plan of the day, right? So the command told you what time to be, where when you need to train, what time you gotta wake up? What are we doing next?
[00:04:52] Right. Um, sales, you got to manage all that yourself. So that took a little while, uh, until I started doing it on Sunday nights, just taking out the old calendar Bookout and saying, okay, what appointments do I have? Where can I schedule calls? Where can I schedule cold calls? Where's my networking events, who do I want to meet?
[00:05:11] You know? And that took, that took a couple of years to realize, yeah, Yeah. Yeah. I could see that. I can see how that big senses you're so used to having somebody to set that schedule for you, to being able to, to transitioning, to, you know, creating your own schedule. So, and it really depends on different, you know, different sales organizations have different ways of managing people, right?
[00:05:35] There's the, the, um, you know, people that are maybe holding your hand too much, or kind of smothering where like, Hey, here's how you do it. And you got to do the exact way. And then there's the really. Hands off approach where it's like, Hey, here's your number? And you got to hit it. However you get there is really up to you.
[00:05:50] And as long as you hit it, we're not gonna be, are you right? That's um, so, so finding your group of what works for you. So. You mentioned something, you said, you know, how you cold called in 2006 is different than how you cold call today. Explain that for me. All right. So back when I first started with this company, they had this really pretty brochure that laid out, you know, company history, all their products, their services, why they're the best, like it was literally.
[00:06:19] So I would show up and I would talk about the company before, however long then I attended a Jeffrey Gitomer thing and outside of a Jeffrey Gitomer event where some vendors and I put my card in the bowl and it turns out I won this training for a Dale Carnegie course at three days, $3,000 course that I won for free.
[00:06:41] That course changed my life. Calling. So I think they too, they put up these letters and they asked the group, if you know, what they stand for, the letters were G O Y. And you know, at first it's like, Oh, get off your, you know, whatever. Um, and those letters stood for was get over yourself. They talked about, they had us do this training that you have to try to sell something without saying the word I need us.
[00:07:11] We, the company. You have to talk to somebody without saying those letters. And what I realized is that what we're selling it can't be about me. I can't show up to you and start saying, Hey, let me tell you everything about me. Cause you don't care. Nobody cares. Like what I realized was people don't care.
[00:07:27] So. Where it shifted was I do a ton of research. I want to understand who do I want to go after go after them, even when I'm cold calling, I'd rather, I changed it from a quantity to quality of cold calls, because back then my manager expected a hundred calls every single week, certain amount of appointments every single week.
[00:07:48] And when I was focusing on the number, I didn't care if they were shitty appointments. Like as a young sales rep, I was just happy to get an appointment and I'd go out there. No one, there was no opportunity just to tell my manager, I had this appointment. And so as I learned, it's like, look, I'd rather have two really good meetings in the week than seven that are, you know, five are crappy.
[00:08:11] Cause I'm wasting more time that way. And where it's shifted from is I wasn't calling anybody. I wasn't calling everybody in anybody. I started calling the people that I knew I could help. I understood the industry that they were in. I understood how I can help them and some challenges that they're having.
[00:08:27] And when I designed my pitch or my email, when I, when I shot them an email or call them, it was more relevant to them. So that's how it shifted. Okay. Yeah, I've talked about this a lot and this is definitely a method that works for a lot of people is, you know, no longer quantity, but quality. And I've said this before and my good friend, uh, Ian who's one of the top enterprises sales reps at Salesforce is a hundred percent and 10% believer of this is spend more time on less people.
[00:09:03] Um, and so, yeah. How do you, how do you shift that though? Right? So you go to this Dale Carnegie, you, they tell you basically the way you've been doing things is totally wrong, which must've felt like a bit of a punch in the gut. Right. And you're like, So, what do you know? And this is you just a lot of young sales reps, right.
[00:09:23] They just do what they're told because they don't know any better. And they think that's how it should work. I've done this myself, you know, uh, when I first started out in sales. So how do you shift from, okay. It's no longer about me. My product, my company, my service, and shifting the focus, shifting the topic, shifting the conversation to the prospect, how you are going to help them and being more focused on maybe specific industries, specific niches, specific titles, like getting really narrow.
[00:09:53] Like these are the people that I know I can help. So I'm going to spend time of being more creative in my outreach. Yeah, no, that's there. That's a really loaded question. Right? So how do you shift it as you just try something new? I mean, we got to try new things. Um, so I stopped showing up with the brochure and started showing up with some questions specific to their industry or their company.
[00:10:15] Or if I dealt with some competitors, I would provide some value to them of, you know, Hey, by the way, one of your competitors was having this challenge. I'm not sure if you're having it, but here's, you know, perhaps we can get together. I'll share some things with you that could help you guys out. And people want to hear that, you know, what's my competitor doing?
[00:10:33] So that's one, one shift was getting away from the brochure. Then I came up with a five types of questions. I didn't come up with them. I'm sure. But through, gosh, I've been at sales leadership, director of sales, um, for Xerox, you know, for Xerox organization. So I've been through a ton of different sales trainings that I took some things out of everywhere.
[00:10:52] I went that really kind of worked for me. Well, And there's the sequences of questions. And I don't want to get, you know, you guys here, but it is definitely in my book. Pick it up. It's B to B sales secrets available on Amazon, but there's a certain sequence of questions that if you take a prospect through, you're going to uncover so much information, did the deal practically close itself?
[00:11:15] If there's an opportunity to Hmm. So it's just being super detailed, super thorough in that discovery or in the, not even your discovery process, just showing up, like you actually care about them more than, you know, the sale or your product or yourself or your commission. Yeah. A hundred percent has gotta be about them.
[00:11:40] Um, look, we, we live in an information age more so today than we did in 2006, when I started in sales. Right. People think about why people even need a sales person there in the first place. It sure as hell isn't to tell them about your company or your product, they can Google all that and find that out.
[00:12:00] They need to understand what your company or your product can do for them. How can you help them achieve a specific goal that they have? And if we don't know what goal they have, we don't know what they value. And if we don't know what they value and we can be valuable to them. So my goal is to really figure it out.
[00:12:20] Okay. And so when you made this transition and I think this is really helpful because there's going to be a lot of people that are getting into sales right now, falling into sales or looking to do sales differently. Um, and I think this is a really important piece of how they can show up and be a better salesperson by making it more about the prospect and less about themselves, less about the product or service that they sell.
[00:12:43] So when you made that transition, like. Did you focus on specific industries, specific niches, specific job titles? Like how did you get so narrow? Cause you can't be, you know, you can't become an expert on every industry or every person. So when you, you know, walk me through that, how did you, where, where could somebody start if they want to transition to that type of selling?
[00:13:07] Yeah, absolutely. So if you've already been in sales, Figure out, you know, take a look at your top 10 best customers and see what do they have in common and see why do you even like to do business with those people? Because chances are, those are the types of people you should be going after. And you'll find something that you have in common.
[00:13:26] Um, hopefully they're profitable. Hopefully you like them. They like you. And hopefully you understand their business challenges. Second. What, what industry do you know most about that you can help with your product or service to the point where you're pissed off when you see them having your competitor, because you know, your product or your, your service is way better for them, for their service.
[00:13:48] And I think a lot of salespeople that I talked to, they don't take these steps. They just, they started, this is my solution. Let me talk to you about my solution.
[00:13:59] Yeah, no, I think that, I think that picking, you know, I think that picking your for your best 10 customers is a great, is a great start. Right? And hopefully there's some sort of commonality in those people. Maybe not just, it could just be personality types, it could be specific job titles, specific industries.
[00:14:18] Or very specific problems that you're solving, like, Hey, the people that I tend to do business with have this very specific problem and just really focus on people that have that problem, that, you know, and you're confident that you can solve for them. Absolutely. So when you, sorry, Khan, you met you. I don't think I've fully answered that question before.
[00:14:40] How do you, how else can you start? Um, you asked me how I started, who did I start focus? I realized that we had a solution that was less expensive and a better value back then. And I hate selling on price, but that was just, I realized that in the market, we were not the most expensive. And weren't the cheapest.
[00:14:57] But I knew which competitors were way more expensive. So I started targeting CFOs and, and that was kinda my, my talk track to them. Hey, we've helped back then. Color was going from like 20 cents per page to like 10 cents per page or 12 cents per page. And then Xerox came out with like a penny, a page. So it was a strict price.
[00:15:18] Like people, people don't, but their copiers, you can say your value selling. It's not going to be based on the buttons on the screen, it's going to be based on the solution that you actually provide. So I got to the CFO, they had to, then I wanted them to contact you the office manager or whoever and say, Hey, I want you to explore this further because then I could sell it.
[00:15:38] So I started targeting CFOs. Got it. So the product that you were selling was very price conscious product, very commoditized at that point. And it was like starting with the person who cares most about the budget and working your way down. That's right. Yeah. Okay. Now also I think, you know, once you kind of can figure out, okay, here's the people that care most about what I do or who I can help the most.
[00:16:06] Right. Who I feel comfortable with, who I have the most success with, but then how do you show up different? To those people. How do you show up in a way that's not another me too person that's pitching selling, talking about solving the same problem that you're talking about. Yeah, no, I love that. Um, it it's different every time because everybody tries to, you know, everybody finds.
[00:16:32] Value in something different every single time. So today where a lot of offices aren't, you know, aren't as accessible as they used to be because of the shutdown and everything. Um, LinkedIn is probably the best that there is, but what salespeople are doing now is, I mean, I'm getting spammed, like the first connection request is.
[00:16:54] You know, let me tell you about my services and let me tell you, it could be like five paragraphs long that I'm never going to read. And I understand people aren't going to read that either. So I came up with five different emails or five different messages. So the first one, if you're on LinkedIn is like, Hey notice we had some people in common or Hey, you know, I checked out your profile.
[00:17:16] Very interesting. We'd love to expand our networks. And we do that second messages. Hey, thanks for connecting and accepted my connection request. Your, you know, I, I bet being a CEO at this company, you always have your plate full. As for me, I helped sales team make more money in 90 days. Um, if there's anything can do for you or promote any of your information, please let me know.
[00:17:39] No, it's not. I set it up quick blurb about what I do. It's a common introduction. And then, Hey, let me know if there's anything I can do for you. Maybe. Yeah, I love it. I love that. And I'm so, I'm so glad you brought it up because we're gonna, we're gonna, we're going to come back to that. Go ahead. We're going to come back to that in a second.
[00:17:59] Yeah, it's a, it's a methodical sequence. And then probably a week later, within that week, unlike in their posts, I'm calming thing on their posts and I'm sharing their posts. And if I see them say something, if I can make an introduction for them to one of my clients or one of my friends or somebody I do that really quickly.
[00:18:15] So I want to give, before I ask him for anything, by that time they've seen me like their stuff. A few times they've seen me comment that is genuine. It's not like BS. It's genuine stuff that if I like, I like it. And if it was good, I'll comment on it. If it's not at long. Um, and I'll share it. And then after that, I might tell him like, Hey, I'm running I a program, or I have this special coming up.
[00:18:39] Is this something you might be interested in? And is it worth your time to hop on the call? So it's never like pushy, pushy, pushy, it's always, and even the program, you know, I have this program coming up that helps specific industry cell 90 days. Then they've been selling in this economy. Are you interested in learning more?
[00:18:58] And it's not, it's all good. There's, there's like a billion people on LinkedIn, but I'll continue to like their stuff. I'll continue to comment. I'll continue to share, um, invite him on my podcast. If I think that's really someone that I can help and we'll go from there. Yeah. All right. There's so many good things in there and we're going to dig deep on some of these.
[00:19:19] All right. So the first thing that I want to talk about, um, which I've talked about before is these LinkedIn messages. Okay. There's a lot of people out there maybe there've been taught. You know, this is the way you do things or they just think, Hey, let's just throw it out there and see what we can get.
[00:19:36] Right. And it's is so important. Sales hustlers pay attention to this because this does not work on LinkedIn. People that are using these methods are ruining the platform because people are getting less excited to go on. LinkedIn. People are getting less excited to read their messages because they're so damn long.
[00:19:58] Nobody cares about that shit. I mean, I like to view, I like to view LinkedIn DMS as something personal, something simple. Like I'm sending a friend, a text message. You know, and a couple of things that you said on Eric and how you're using it. I totally agree with you because you're not pushing people to book a meeting.
[00:20:23] You're not pushing or asking for something before they've raised their hand. So many people are sending these messages, whether it's email or LinkedIn DMS, and they're basically just pushing for a meeting and sending a calendar link and buyers are smarter today. That stuff doesn't work. Be very relevant, keep it short, keep it sweet.
[00:20:42] Even be clear on what your intention is or offer something of value before you ask for their time. Then when they raise their hand, I can send a link or schedule a meeting or send them the resource. And that stuff does work because that is like we started to talk about is how to show up differently to these people.
[00:21:01] Once you figure out who these people are. So. I'm so glad you brought this up. Cause this is a, this is a topic that, uh, I'm a little bit passionate about. If you can't tell and you know, their LinkedIn can be very. LinkedIn can be, I mean, LinkedIn, it can be such a valuable resource for you as a sells individual, if you use it properly.
[00:21:24] Um, and then something else that you mentioned that I love is you're not just sending them messages, you're liking their content, you're commenting on their stuff, you know, and this can be done really easily. Like if these are your prospects, you can save their LinkedIn, uh, activity URL. On a Google sheet and literally two or three times a week, just see what they're doing and engage with the stuff.
[00:21:46] And don't just put a thumbs up or like, you know, awesome or great, or thanks for sharing, like add your thoughts, position yourself as somebody that you know cares about what they're doing or talking about. Absolutely. Yeah. I'm glad you brought that up. Invest in LinkedIn navigator. You know, it might be seven, 800 bucks for the year, but it'll give you alerts when one of, you know, you can create lists of your target market there.
[00:22:12] Um, and it'll give you alerts. It'll actually alert you on your phone when somebody posted something that you, it just makes it super easy to do that and follow up with the people that you really want to do business with. The way I view LinkedIn, Collin is I think it's not, I don't look at it as a social media platform.
[00:22:30] And I think the way we have to look at it is like a business breakfast, like a business networking breakfast, where you, there are potential customers of yours attending. And so what you would not do with that business breakfast, if you met them face to face, don't freaking do it on LinkedIn. You know, you would never come up to somebody and hit them with five paragraphs about your company and why they should do business with you before you've ever had a conversation with them.
[00:22:57] Why would you ever do that anywhere else? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You would never walk up to somebody without telling them anything or them expressing some sort of interest and trying to book a meeting that's right. Or no one would, you know, knowing anything about him? No, absolutely. Yeah. And just to kind of add to that, right?
[00:23:19] There's like pudding, be putting out content yourself on a consistent basis. If you want to stay top of mind with these people it's yes. It's sending them DMS. It's putting out your own content. It's liking, commenting, engaging with their content on a consistent basis. And the other thing Eric, that I love that you said is like, Even if they don't share interest or like what, what you're selling right away, you're still engaging with them.
[00:23:42] You're still trying to stay top of mind because maybe the timing is just not right. But if you're constantly staying top of mind with them, when they, the timing is right, you will be the first. Person that they think of, and this stuff takes time. You're not going to start using LinkedIn and, you know, crush your quota in 30 days.
[00:23:59] It's something you have to invest like your retirement plan every single week. You gotta be putting some effort into it. I actually schedule my LinkedIn activity into my calendar on a daily basis twice per day. That's pretty cool. You know, we interviewed Scott McGregor. I don't know if you're familiar with Scott or not.
[00:24:19] Oh yeah. Love. I love Scott. Isn't he amazing? So we had him on our show and he's the CEO of a company called something new and they're a staffing firm pretty much, but he also found this, this saying that people over everything, just, just an awesome, awesome guy. And we were interviewing him on a show and Scott says, Eric people need to build their own brand as salespeople.
[00:24:46] You have to be your own brand. The goal guide started that's my brand. I'm there every day do on social media, people are seeing, and it's always going to be there. It's either going to hurt you or it's going to help you. There is no neutral. So if, if you're not posting and every sales person that I coach, I try to get them to do videos and post them on LinkedIn either.
[00:25:09] You know, the good thing is that the first 30 of them are gonna really suck. And then the reason why that's good is because your first 30, no, one's gonna watch anyway. But your 31st and 32nd, 33rd, by the time people are like, who is this person that keeps popping up on my newsfeed? You're actually going to get better at it.
[00:25:28] But I think as salespeople, we are, you know, we, we try to be perfect. We were afraid of criticism. Awesome. A lot of times. And so we don't put stuff out there because we're worried, somebody's going to think less of us. And it's only hurting us. Just put stuff out there that you think your target market is going to find valuable.
[00:25:49] Oh, yeah. Oh, I love this. All right. So here's one thing about that personal brand, right? So if you're a sales person creates your brand, you know, it's actually it's yes. Create your brand, but your brand is not something you need to create. Your brand is who you are. It's just being more public about that on social.
[00:26:08] Don't try to be something you're not right. You know, don't try to talk about, or put out stuff that somebody yells is talking about this, getting a lot of likes and comments don't, you know, try to be. Positive like it's rainbows and pots of gold all the time, because that's bullshit. We know it is, you know, B show up as your real self on a consistent basis.
[00:26:31] And you know, this is something I struggled with. Like, I didn't want to say certain things that was going to maybe rub a prospect the wrong way, or they weren't going to do business with me because they didn't believe that, you know, what. The bottom line is you're going to do business with the people that you align with.
[00:26:46] So if you're being more public about your brand, you're going to attract those people regularly. And the people that if they're not going to do business with you, because of what you said, you probably were never going to do business with them. Anyway. That's right. Um, so, so yes, I totally agree. I totally agree with, you know, having your brand, you know, showing up as you are being consistent, being consistent is so key.
[00:27:09] Yes. Your first 30, 50, maybe even your first hundred videos are good suck, but the more you do them, the better you'll get the more comfortable you make it a habit. It's. So it's so important. Um, Eric, we gotta, we gotta wrap it up here. We covered so many great topics and I know that all the sales hustlers out there are going to find some value in this episode.
[00:27:33] But before I let you go tell folks where they can connect with you. And what you have to share with them that we're going to include in the show notes. Absolutely. So number one, LinkedIn, Eric can have all of you can find me on LinkedIn. My podcast is lead. Sell, grow the human experience podcast available on all platforms.
[00:27:54] Um, if you are looking for a good sales process, B2B sales secrets available on Amazon. That's probably going to get you a really good start and give you a whole kind of from, from start to close of the sale process down to works. And what I'm giving away is a mini course. That's completely free for you guys.
[00:28:18] Whoever's listening. Um, and it's on how to sell using Fisk. So if you're not familiar with disc, it's a behavioral personality assessment. And if you understand the type of person you're dealing with, you're going to be able to sell to them the way they like to be sold. So there's four different types of personalities that you're going to learn about there and how to sell to each one.
[00:28:39] So download that course is going to be a huge value to you. Uh, all my clients that I teach this to their sales, go through the roof. So make sure you take advantage of it. Awesome. Thanks so much, Eric. And we will drop the links in there so that you have them and take care of sales hustlers till the next episode.
[00:29:00] Thank you for tuning into this episode. Node of sales hustle. 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 cast.com, 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, Colin Mitchell.
[00:29:24] If you enjoyed this episode, feel free to leave us a review and share the podcast with your friends.