This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we talk to author Carson Heady, whose “Birth of a Salesman” series translates real-life sales issues into a popular fictionalized series of sales books.
Carson’s other role is as a leading specialist for Microsoft and he talks about his career in sales, why endurance and tenacity are so important, and how to bring the right perspective to a career in field sales.
If you missed episode 42, check it out here: PODCAST 42: How Sales Managers Should Build Their Career Path w/ Jamie Scarborough
What You’ll Learn
- The importance of social selling
- The backstory behind the “Birth of a Salesman” series
- Why endurance and tenacity are the key traits to success
- Building a referral system that drives leads
- Being busy is cheap, prioritizing is expensive – the importance of finding time for yourself
- What is the Holy Trinity of Sales?
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Show Agenda and Timestamps
- Show Introduction [0:09]
- About Carson Heady: An Introduction [4:39]
- A Book Within a Book: How Birth of a Salesman Was Born [9:23]
- The Holy Trinity of Sales [13:40]
- How Endurance, Perseverance, and Scheduling Carve Out Success [18:43]
- Success in Enterprise Sales Comes Down to Relationships and Probability [42:40]
- Sam’s Corner
Sales Hacker Podcast—Sponsored by Chorus and Outreach
Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome back to the Sales Hacker Podcast. Today, we’ve got a great show. We’ve got Carson Heady, a three time novelist who writes about sales. They’re novels featuring salespeople as protagonist, called the Birth of a Salesman series. He’s going to talk to us about that.
He’s also going to talk about what it’s like carrying a bag at Microsoft as a cloud specialist working on some of their products, how to effectively do social selling, why it’s important to cast a wide net, why you have to understand probabilities, what the Holy Trinity of sales is. There’s a lot of great nuggets in here.
Now, before we get into that, we want to thank our sponsors. The first is Chorus.ai, the leading conversation intelligence platform for high growth sales teams. With Chorus.ai, more reps meet quota, new hires ramp faster, leader become better coaches. Everyone in the organization collaborates over the actual voice of the customer.
Our second sponsor is Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach supports sales reps by enabling them to humanize their communications at scale, from automating the soul sucking manual work that eats up selling time to providing action oriented tips on what communications are working best. Outreach is running Unleash 2019: The Sales Engagement Conference. It’s going to be an amazing conference, March 10th through 12th. Hop over to unleash.outreach.io and use the code “SHPOD” to save $100 off your ticket. I can tell you that San Diego in March is a better place to be than most other places in the country. Here’s today’s show.
About Carson Heady: An Introduction
Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. Today’s guest is a very special guest. He’s an award-winning author and a top performing sales leader, speaker and management consultant. He’s Carson Heady, author of the Birth of a Salesman series, which details the art of sales from interviewing, through preparation pitching, closing and advancing your career.
He’s served in multiple levels of leadership at Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. He’s currently working at Microsoft, overseeing partner relationships and leading strategic sales planning. He’s got a strong social media presence of over 330,000 followers. Welcome, Carson.
Carson Heady: Sam, thanks so much. Appreciate the opportunity.
Sam Jacobs: We’re glad to have you. Tell us a little bit about your background, what you’re doing currently, and some high level overview of both your role at Microsoft, and also the books that you wrote, the Birth of a Salesman series.
Carson Heady: A little bit about me. I’m just a guy who is passionate about selling and kind of came across it by happenstance. I thought I was getting myself into a customer service type role after college. Turned out it was a pretty intense selling. Within a month, I was tops in the office and very quickly rose through the ranks. I just had lot of fun in sales. I’ve worked in telecom and advertising and now in technology. It’s been incredible.
It’s been a very rewarding experience and I continue to learn. I’d consider myself a student of sales.
A Book Within a Book: How Birth of a Salesman Was Born
Sam Jacobs: Tell us about your books. What prompted you to write them? Three books is deeply impressive. Tell us what they’re about–the Birth of a Salesman series–walk us through the trilogy as it were.
Carson Heady: I’ve always had a natural inclination to write. Yet, at the same time, I was like, sales books have been done so many times, and so well, I can’t possibly contribute to that ecosystem. And I created a fictional author of a sales book. He basically learns the lesson through real life application and then writes about it in a book. It’s a book within a book. It was a labor of love.
Birth of a Salesman, obviously a twist off of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, from a title standpoint. It follows this guy and he goes through typical things that I think we all encounter. I took a lot of influence from people that I had worked with, and some of my own experience of things that we had seen, and created a story. That’s what prompted it.
I think that’s the greatest thing about being in sales is that you’ll always have more story to tell.
I would encourage you to journal your experiences. You don’t have to set out to write a book, but I’ll tell you if I can do it, anybody can.
The Holy Trinity of Sales
Sam Jacobs: If we wanted to grab the Cliff’s Notes of the three books, and not focus on the plot or the narrative, but focus on the key concepts that you’re trying to convey, what are those key concepts in your opinion?
Carson Heady: That’s a great question. When it started out, a lot of it was around what I felt was attention to the sales food chain–how important it is to be linked and to have a positive interaction and relationship with everybody that you’re touching in the sales food chain.
I also have a philosophy about the Holy Sales Trinity.
The Customer | The Company | You
Those three entities have to benefit from every deal that’s constructed. If somebody loses in that deal, it’s a bad deal. Walk away from it. Don’t do it.
You’ve got to be very forward thinking, but also focused on the priorities of the here and now.
I’m a firm believer that if you’ve got the right people–people that have the right approach, work ethic, endurance–doing the right process–the one that’s got the highest probability at success each leg of the selling process, you’re going to equate to success.
At each step of the process of selling, it’s so important that we’re focused on that step. When I’m prospecting, I can’t focus on the end result. I can’t focus on trying to sell everything and anything that I’ve got in my little bag of goodies.
The last thing I’ll say on that topic would be, if you’d ask me 10 years ago what I thought was the most important thing in sales, I would have probably said work ethic or tenacity.
But frankly, at this stage in my career, I would say it’s endurance because there’s so many times that we are going to go into selling situations where we’re going to be told no, where deals don’t go our way even at the last minute where internal politics, bureaucracy, process impedes us.
The way that we react and respond to that is going to determine our destiny. If we react poorly, if we get frustrated and complain, that’s not only going to create a negative brand for yourself, but it’s also going to ensure that you’re not successful in that role.
How Endurance, Perseverance, and Scheduling Carve Out Success
Sam Jacobs: It’s a great lesson, talking about endurance, perseverance, and maintaining a positive attitude. How do you do that? We all hear “no” more than we hear “yes.”What do you recommend?
Carson Heady: I had one of the best years of my career this past year. It was coming off a tough year, actually. I learned a ton, but I lost a lot of deals last year. Because of that, I took so much learning on the other deals that I had that I won very substantially, and that was all that really mattered in the box score.
You’re talking about routines. That’s very personal for everyone to find kind of what their routine looks like, but I would say that it’s all about, for me, prioritization of my schedule and making sure that I’m carving out time to do the things that have to be done. Being strict to follow process. For me that looks like hey, I’m up early. I’m usually up by 4:00-4:30.
Sam Jacobs: What?
Carson Heady: Oh, yeah. I’m up early because that’s really the only alone time I’m going to get for the day and the only time that I can really totally 100% free my mind.
I’m up. I’m on the treadmill. I’m lifting weights. I come up with some of my best ideas. I can look at my work email, but I’m not beholden to anything because nobody’s calling me and I’m completely left alone so I can plan my day. I had a manager tell me a few years back, if there is something that’s scheduled for that day that isn’t paramount to your process and you’ve got other things that take priority, offer to move that meeting and push it out to a time where it’s more conducive and really prioritize what you’ve got to get done that day.
You’ve got to prioritize. Maybe it’s scheduling time to read a book or maybe it’s scheduling time specifically to prospect. Carving out that hour where you’re going through and you’re consistently prospecting, everyday going through the business journals, going through your LinkedIn, your Sales Navigation, doing some outreach, planting seeds for future success, being consistent and consistently applying process is what’s going to yield results.
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Success in Enterprise Sales Comes Down to Relationships and Probability
Sam Jacobs: Are there one or two other key lessons that you think we should take if we want to be successful, particularly in enterprise sales? Besides perseverance, what do you recommend we think about when we’re pursuing a 12-18 month sales cycle for seven figures?
Carson Heady: So glad you asked that, Sam. It’s all about relationships. There’s a lot of tools that are out there. Nothing will ever replace the face-to-face though.
They pay more to go through me because I was responsive and they knew that I would take care of them. If there was an issue, I didn’t go into hiding. I was on it immediately, pulling in the right people.
You never know when that’s going to come back around. It’s going to benefit you. Some of these folks will move to different roles or to roles at different companies and then that’s another potential prospect for you. Be very mindful of the relationship and do everything you can to devote yourself to that. The last thing I would highlight, talking about the perseverance piece, the relationships piece, is probability.
We’re in a game that can be broken down into a science and mathematics.
If I’m prospecting, if I’m doing five different activities to prospect instead of one, you better believe I’ve got a better chance of getting a hold of the person that I want. Be as opportunistic as you can, but use as many mechanisms as you can to get in front of these people. Remember: upfront, you’re selling a meeting. You’re not selling your product or service. Figure out what you need to say to get that meeting and realize that it is a numbers game. You’re going to need to try to sell a hundred meetings to get one sometimes.
- Change your messaging
- Be adaptable
- Be coachable
Those are the types of things that are really going to change or drive change. You’re going to change your selling process over and over and over through the years. Don’t make drastic changes per se, but if you see a quality change that you can make, maybe better questions that you ask or you pick up words or best practices from somebody else that you managed to sell with, those are the types of things that are going to help your sales process get better.
Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam’s Corner. Carson Heady, author of the Birth of a Salesman books, and also works at Microsoft. He is doing the hard yards of prospecting, opening up new opportunities with partners, closing deals. What I like most about Carson is just his overall attitude. He mentioned endurance. He mentioned the ability to take a loss and keep moving.
Carson’s very focused on probabilities, but he’s also focused on the process. One of the parts about the process is to schedule time for yourself. I’ve worked in a lot of companies just grinding from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep. You cannot do that for a career. You will burnout. You need to schedule time for yourself. You need to take vacations. You don’t need to feel guilty. You don’t need to be there until 9 PM.
Learning the act of saying no to things that are not a priority is a key skillset of being an executive and it will also dramatically improve the quality of your life. Listen, I’m a person that lectures people on what time to wake up, but it’s more important that when you come to work, you are feeling good. A good mood is more important than staying at the office until 10 PM. That has been Sam’s Corner.
Don’t Miss Episode 44
Now, if you wanna check out the show notes, see upcoming guests, play more episodes from our incredible lineup of sales leaders, visit www.saleshacker.com/listen/ You can also find the Sales Hacker podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. If you enjoy this episode, please share with your peers on LinkedIn, Twitter, or elsewhere.
If you’ve got a great idea or a guest for the show if you wanna get in touch with me, find me on Twitter or on LinkedIn. Finally, thanks again to our sponsors. Chorus, the leading conversation intelligence platform for high growth sales teams, and Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform.
I’ll talk to you next time.