Tuesday Nov 23, 2021
EP109: Being There for Your Customers
Can you truly say that you’re always on your customer’s side? Matt McCorkle, Manager of Branch Operations for Kaeser Compressors, can. At Kaeser, providing support for the products they sell is everything, explains this week’s guest on Market Dominance Guys. “It’s always about the customer,” Matt states. In this third of three conversations between Matt and our hosts, Chris Beall, and Corey Frank, the discussion centers on being 100% committed to supporting customers — those who have put themselves in your hands because you’ve convinced them to trust you. Corey explains that this starts with that first conversation, the cold call. “You are the product that builds trust first,” he says. “The actual product you’re selling comes second.” Join our three sales experts on this week’s Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “Being There for Your Customers.”
About Our Guest
Matt McCorkle is Manager of Branch Operations for Kaeser Compressors. He has earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and has now been with Kaeser Compressors for 13 years.
Here is the full transcript to this episode:
Corey Frank (01:20:)
Yeah, I have a theory probably that Chris, certainly knowing you as long as I have, that connect and sell, and Matt, I think you'd probably agree with this as a testament, is that it's not a product, it's not even a weapon as you guys like to say internally, but the medium is the message. The trust that you've engendered with people who are sitting in the front row of a workshop, people who you meet on a barefoot run, people who you meet in the dreariest German bars in O'Hare, wherever it is, that you are the product, which builds trust first. Then the product comes second. Matt, I think that you can't have a company like Kaeser that's been around for over 100 years and certainly, you have technical competence, the company does. You have industry competence, but I think, probably, the leadership that continues to come generation after generation continues to engender that trust.
Kaeser is a name that I can pick up the phone at 3:00 in the morning if I have a problem with. If I have a problem, I know that Kaeser's going to try to figure out a manufacturer solution to help me. Sometimes it's a little tougher to get when it's pure software and there's no touch. When it's e-commerce alone, you miss out on certainly some conversations like this at an enterprise level, or at a more intimate level. You have just the brand promise, the website, the commercials, Somehow to sometimes drive that, and it'll be interesting to see if those companies end up being as durable as certainly as ConnectAndSell or Kaeser.
Matt McCorkle (02:55):
Chris and I were actually talking about that as it relates to ConnectAndSell. Building trust, getting meetings with folks because as I was calling with [Cheryl 00:03:04], we're trying to set up some virtual meetings, phone meetings. It's not common in our industry and it's because of exactly what you put your finger on there. This is a hard product, it's a piece of machinery in somebody's plant. They want to know that they can believe that you have the absolute best machinery ever. It's just amazing. It's reliable, it's efficient. It's just an incredible piece of machinery, but if you can't support it, they don't want it anywhere near their plant. That support piece, that you're going to have somebody here at 3:00 in the morning, they're going to know how to put it back together if something catastrophic happens. That's really critical in our industry.
When it comes to ConnectAndSell, a lot of times you're pushing for that face-to-face meeting. The way, certainly, we use the sales process after that is to demonstrate that not only do we have business outcomes, but we also have the infrastructure to support these business outcomes in terms of technicians and parts support and things like that. That is definitely a piece that comes into play. I feel that it is more difficult to sell remotely, that you need a little bit of that face-to-face touch. Now, certainly, we're not giving up on doing things from a virtual perspective because it's such a powerful time saving, but at some point in that process, you've got to make that connection.
Corey Frank (>04:26):
I commend you, Matt. I mean, you think about the stewardship that you are responsible for, for this 119-year-old company, is that what it is?
Matt McCorkle (04:26):
Corey Frank (04:36):
The stewardship that you're responsible for that company, the leap of faith, of trust that you had to have to say, "I want to take this approach not only from selling but also from certainly the technology benefit of ConnectAndSell." Can't underestimate that, right? I think that there's going to be a reciprocal effect as you can continue to see the market dominance effects occur. You're number three in the US. Hey, I'm sure when you're on the episode and on the show maybe next year, maybe it'll be number two. Maybe that'll be a takeaway. The math says three years, right, Chris? We got another year to cram it in, so we'll see how it works.
I imagine that it'll be fun as you look at the legacy. Is the reciprocal effect of Matt McCorkle inside a company like Kaeser going to be affecting the results five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now? You probably have clients that have been with that organization for five years, for 10 years, for 15 years, and they continue to be fans of Kaeser. Those are some of the larger ramifications of focusing on market dominance and the strategy, and really the residue of that, or the DNA level of that is that you build trust. You're building trust certainly with your team, with your board, with your leadership team, by "This is the way we are taking these mantles and planting them here, but this is how we're going to sell." It's really a great thing to see, wouldn't you say, Chris?
Chris Beall (06:05):
I tell you for me, I don't know how to put, spine-tingling. When we first engaged with Kaeser, I kept it quiet internally. I don't really talk to people about most of the deals I'm working on anyway, but I just thought, "Oh, the skepticism level is going to be so great." It's like why would a 117-year-old at the time, German air compressor company be an appropriate partner for ConnectAndSell, right? I mean, who are they going to have calling and who are they going to call and why are they going to do it? It sure doesn't look like Silicon Valley to me. I had actually more confidence, I remember, leaving that test drive with James Townsend and he said, "Well, what do you think?" I said, "These guys are going to take over their industry," and that was just walking out of the test drive.
That wasn't just because the brats and beer were so good, even though, quite frankly, they were off the charts. That was one of the amazing things about being able to go physically in a test drive. I mean, I always ask two questions. Do these guys have the goods and do they have the will? If they have the goods and the will, are they willing to show somebody that they're competent, make it clear that the competence is there, and make it even more clear that they're on that other person's side, that individual person's side, right? That's all you have to really do in a business, but everything works against you. Short-termism works against you. Commission plans work against you. How people get moved up in organizations or moved out, the very short tenure of sales leaders works against you.
All this stuff works against you, and it really takes depth, which most companies have a hard time finding, in order to say, "We really mean it. We really are competent. We really do know what we're doing, and by the way, we really are on your side. Not kind of on your side, we're actually on your side. We can afford to be on your side. That's how good we are. We can afford, and we can't afford not to be. We come all the way over there and yeah, you don't get to abuse us. Yeah, we're not here to fetch another rock for your rock pile. We get those games. We don't play those games, but frankly, if you're sincere in wanting to solve your problems, we're going to be even more sincere in trying to help you solve those problems and let the chips fall."
That's what I felt when we left Milwaukee that day. That's why I told James, "These guys are going to dominate their market," because the sincerity, the competence was clearly there. I mean, it was obvious, right? As you point out, you don't get to be a 117-year-old industrial company, or any kind of company, unless the competence is there. It was that willingness and the will to win, combined with the willingness to actually be on the customers' side.
Those are the things that come at a conflict because many times folks want to win. They want to win at the margin at the expense of the customer. At the margin it's tempting to take from the customer, rather than to have the discipline to say, "No, the way we do this is we are always on their side," because let's face it. We're the doctor, right? I'm a doctor, the patient's unconscious. I'm not supposed to go and look in their wallet while they're unconscious and "Oh yeah, I'll fix the gallbladder, but by the way, oh look! Nice little AmEx card here. I think I'll run up something on Amazon for myself."
Chris Beall (10:25):
It's very similar. If you're Kaeser, you're the expert. You have a kind of a ... I don't know if it's a fiduciary responsibility, but the responsibility of the expert toward the person who has thrown themselves into your hands and said, "Okay, I'll let you help me." I think when you do it that way, and I look at ConnectAndSell and ask, "What are we good for?" We are good for getting those trust-based conversations, those trust outcome conversations, to have them fast enough that then you can deal with all of that timing stress which shows up in business, because all businesses, as we said, the overhead of a business is like a racehorse. It eats while you sleep, right? It's not so wonderful. We have timing stress, so how do we deal with the timing stress that draws us away from being on the customers' side?
One of the ways we do it is to broaden our pipeline, get the portfolio really wide, the funnel really wide, and make sure that it's paved entirely with trust, so that then we have, frankly, the luxury of harvesting that trust over time, as it makes sense for the customer. We're on their side one more way. In one funny way, we serve Customer A by engaging with Customer B, because Customer A might not be ready for a while. Customer B will sustain us while Customer A's need matures, or their understanding matures. We're actually serving each individual customer, oddly enough, by broadening our pipeline, by increasing the number of opportunities that we have at different stages, because it makes us more robust and the more robust we are, more capable we are of service.
Corey Frank (12:06):
You're also inhibiting ... make it a little bit more difficult for your competition, by at least having a trust-based conversation, even if they're not ready to move forward for your competition. That's part of the collection process that a lot of organizations underestimate, of "I'd rather send an email. These people aren't ready to move forward." No, no, no. Did you have a conversation? That's a good thing, especially if it's memorable, and it's part of a good balanced nutritious breakfast every month to continue to do, and have a conversation with those folks. Sorry, Matt, go ahead.
Matt McCorkle (12:40):
Yeah, both of those things are exactly how we've approached it and really it starts at the top when you talk about being on the customer side, Chris. I mean, Mr. Kaeser, this is a third-generation owner of the company, and it's always about the customer. It's not about selling another compressor. It's not about maximizing the size of the compressor or the size of the compressor sale. It's always been what keeps manufacturers running the longest and for the lowest cost, in terms of operating cost, not necessarily purchase price. That's what we're focused on. It starts with Mr. Kaeser, my boss, Frank, that's what he instills in everybody. That's absolutely it, Chris, and that's why it works. That's what leads to, I believe, the dominance. The sales cycles are long. The times when people ... you can't necessarily force it.
In some cases, you can make the business case to do it now. In many cases you can, but not in all cases, but when you're having those trust-based conversations, when people realize we're willing to share our knowledge, we just want you to get better. We want to help you manufacture better, more reliably. We want to lower your costs. We've got some advice for you. It is probably a little different than what you're going to hear from others, but it doesn't necessarily involve buying anything. That's where the conversation starts and that's where it continues.
Corey Frank (13:55):
Bingo. That authentic message there that is what you're selling on that cold call is, "Let me leave your world just a little bit brighter, be a little bit more educated, regardless of if you buy anything for me. I'm here to move you down that Primrose path." That's a beautiful thing.
Matt McCorkle (14:14):
You asked me a question earlier, Corey, about what is it I'm tweaking and I kind of missed that a little bit. I would like to have another take at it because I am working on something, and what that something is is not needing to have the affirmation or be liked at the end of that call. I think this is a really powerful thing. I hear this from Oren Klaff, I listen to some of my best reps. You have to remove it from your mind completely. That's very difficult for me. I want to feel like, "Oh, this person liked me at the end of the call." It doesn't matter. If I have some value for him, but he doesn't like me at the end, or I'm challenging the way he's thinking about compressed air, about his business, about improving things, then I owe it to him to challenge him or her, challenge them in thinking about it. I think that's what ultimately leads to the best value-added conversations that we have on the phone.
Corey Frank (15:04):
Well, we just had a big event last week, Oren and the team, and us in San Diego. We had a couple of hundred folks and that came up time and again, Matt, where we talked about the four foundations. This is the "Pitch Anything" methodology. You need humor, curiosity, intrigue. The fourth element is where a lot of folks miss out on because of the need for approval, and that is tension. Humor, intrigue, curiosity, and tension. Human language was developed to communicate tension. It wasn't to communicate, "Give me a venti Mocha Macchiato, et cetera." It was to communicate, "Listen, there's a big sabertooth tiger over on that hill. Don't go over there." It's tough for me to do that with hand signals and grunts, so language by itself, stories, Beowulf, our oldest ancient verbal traditions, were to communicate tension. Somehow when we move to sales, right, we leave a lot of that because we have supplicative behavior.
Matt McCorkle (16:07):
Corey Frank (16:08):
Certainly, the Sandler methodology has two major functions. You're financially secure and you don't need the business, and I'm a psychologist on a Broadway play, and my needs are not met by my prospects. My needs are met by the people in my immediate circle, could be my dog, could be my spouse, could be my children, could be my boss, but outside of that, maybe my industry. Outside of that, if I'm going for my customers to get my mental, emotional needs met, it's going to be a lonely life. You better have an office building, as I say, that's on the first floor, because if you have it on the second or third, you're going to be too tempted to jump out that window.
Chris Beall (16:49):
I never thought about jumping out the window, Corey. I was raised in one of those ranch-style houses.
Corey Frank (16:56):
Oh, that's right. Yes, you were.
Chris Beall (16:58):
I'd be able to go up on the roof and jump off that and it still wasn't high enough to get hurt, so what can I say? I think it's fascinating when the average person who's not in business thinks about business. They tend to think about words like cutthroat competition. They think about concepts, making the number and you're going to force things to have all that kind of stuff. That's not actually how it's done at the highest levels by the most successful people. It's just not. Listening to Matt, it's almost like it's an unfair trick to sincerely be on your customers' side while working your ass off in the back to make sure that you have the best products and that when it comes time to deal with the disasters or the problems in the field, that you are there.
That sounds ridiculous, right?
Corey Frank (17:53):
What's the catch?
Chris Beall (17:54):
What's the catch, and the catch is it's kind of like a patent, right? What do we do when we get a patent? We make a trade with the public. As you know, I've got one or two of these things, and I've been schooled by one of the best patent attorneys in the world, the best that I know, Sid Leach out there in North Scottsdale now. Sid, he sat me down my first patent and he said, "Look Chris, this is a simple trade. You're trading exclusivity, a monopoly for 17 years or whatever it is with the public, and you're doing an exchange for teaching them precisely how to make your product, to make your invention." That's the trade, right? When you make it that clear, it's like, "Oh, so I better do a really good job of teaching them of disclosing exactly how to make this thing."
I have to get out of my heart the desire for secrecy. In the same way, I have to get out of my heart the desire to be liked because it actually works against the purpose. The purpose is if I'm on your side, I'm going to share with you what I know. I'm not sharing it with you to make you feel a certain way about me, but because I sincerely believe that this information can be of value to you. Maybe right now, you're not very comfortable with it. That's good. It's just the way things are, but I can only share from the perspective of what I know, and you'll take it from the perspective of where you are at and how that makes you feel about me is totally irrelevant because otherwise, I'm a thief. I'm stealing your approval in exchange for what's good for you, that I believe is good for you anyway, which is my knowledge.
It's the same kind of thing, right? I'm going to teach in exchange for an interesting kind of exclusivity, which is you will exclusively trust me and not my competitor. It's very much like that same sort of trade, it's just not as black and white. I think the issue in both cases is the temptation to not go all-in on removing that hesitation from your heart. You've got to go all-in on the commitment and to be on the customers' side. You have to go all-in on the commitment to share what you know. You can't be cagey. If you're being cagey, you're playing a short game, but life kind of is a long game. Business is a long game, and as we all know, businesses are more different from each other than people are. People are constrained, as animals were constrained by our biology.
We share similarities that are deeper than our differences because if not, our ancestors were dead. Dead ancestors don't leave a lot of progeny, therefore, we're not here, right? Companies aren't like that. Companies can have immense complexity, but it's kind of funny. The biology of sincerity, so to speak, of customers' need to have somebody on their side, who's good at what they do, actually makes great companies like Kaeser much more like other are great companies that have stood the test of time because somebody at the top continues to insist, "We're not only great at this, that's what we do back here, but we're also on the customers' side. Not 60%, 70%, 80%. It's 100%." It might even be over a 100%.
That's why they're still around, and we exist as a company to help those companies have that first conversation, that second conversation, that third conversation that leads to that mutual exploration. You've asked me before, "What business are you in?" I say, "We curate dominance." Some people say dominance means hurting other people. It's about the competition. It's not, it's the natural mathematical outcome of doing two things well. One is what you do and the other is who you do it for.
Matt McCorkle (22:00):
By the way, one of the things that draws me to your podcast that I love when I see it every time I see the little logo is the two folks on top of the pile, holding their flags, standing on bodies, laying there. When I saw this the first time I was just cracking up because on the one hand, it's very combative. You talk, I think, about blood. I'm like, "Oh, here's blood on the ground," but there's humor in it. There's great humor in it because you're absolutely right. That's really not what business is like in reality, but that's what we're pushing for. It's just a great image. I love it.
Corey Frank (22:38):
Well this has been wonderful. Matt, It's great to finally have you on the program. Like I said, your story and your journey has been great content for us these 100+ episodes. Thanks for taking the time. Those Germans, they run a tight ship so it's good for you to kind of jump out for hour and a half or so out of your busy day on a Friday to partake with us. Any final thoughts, Chris? We're going to get Matt back about a year from now in his final year of market dominance and tally up the scores.
Chris Beall (23:07):
Yeah, well it's an assured outcome. It's happening, it's going to continue to happen, and it's truly an honor and privilege to be able to partner with Kaeser. It's just an amazing thing. The path was all full of strange chunks of luck, right? I think we might have found each other eventually, anyway [crosstalk 00:23:29] because Matt went to Outbound. Outbound is where we kind of go hang out, but I'm so glad that we managed to get it together back then. There's a handful of customers that we work with that, every day, I think about, and I remind myself of what the world can be like. Working with Matt, working with the team at Kaeser, that's in that list. That's pre-breakfast every day.
Corey Frank (23:59):
Matt McCorkle (23:59):
Well, thank you. Thank you both for having me on. I do hope it encourages somebody that might be in a different industry and not think about ConnectAndSell working for them to really evaluate because it is absolutely a game-changing technology, but it's also a game-changing company. How Chris runs it is very refreshing and just very open. Chris, you're talking about us sharing openly with the customer. You're so much on our side. It's unbelievable and that's, again, very refreshing. True partnership and I really love working with you again. Thanks for having me on here.
Corey Frank (24:34):
All right. For the Sage of Sales, the birthday boy, Chris Beall, we're looking for another 110 years or so. Maybe ConnectAndSell will catch up to Kaeser here. We'll be celebrating that, or our progeny will be celebrating that in a future podcast. Until next time, this is Corey Frank with Chris Beall with the Market Dominance Guys.
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