On today’s episode of the Market Dominance Guys, Chris and Corey continue their conversation with Jason Beck, Vice President of Sales at Enerex, by addressing how sales got a dirty name. Chris explains that in ancient times, the salesman met the buyer face to face, but the encounter was usually a one-time transaction. Then, the camel caravan moved on, and if the buyer wasn’t happy with his purchase, there was no one to appeal to for a replacement and no one to lodge a customer complaint with. Ancient sales was a hit-and-run relationship that frequently left a bad taste in the buyer’s mouth about salesmen. But in modern times, the sale is never over, because the telephone and the internet have created an ongoing relationship between sellers and buyers. The modern salesperson needs to understand that you can run, but you can’t hide, which makes it imperative that reps provide value to their customers.
Jason and the Market Dominance Guys segue into a discussion of what type of personalities are best suited to be salespeople and what types should definitely NOT hold this job. The attributes of being pro-active and persistent are touted, as well as the importance of being in sales for the right reasons. As Jason puts it, “If closing the deal at the end of the day isn’t what you live for, then don’t be in sales.”
This team of sales-savvy guys wraps things up with a discussion of the cycle of the sales process for a new product and why it works — as this podcast’s title says — to Strategize, Execute, Evaluate, and Repeat.
About Our Guest
Jason Beck is Vice President of Sales at Enerex, retail energy's trusted data platform, providing secure connectivity to the entire value chain — brokers, suppliers, agents, customers, and utilities — to drive efficient transactions. Their flagship service, Sparkplug, is the #1 retail energy sales platform in the world, powering over 10% of US commercial and industrial (C&I) transactions.
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The complete transcript of this episode is below:
Chris Beall (02:16):
Sales is so delicate because we have to ask first what do they get out of it? And as an expert, can we be an honest broker and be on their side? Because it's actually imbalanced. I know more than you do when I'm selling to you. Therefore, I have to take your side in the transaction. Otherwise it's imbalanced. That's just simple. That's just a fact, right? And an imbalanced transaction will always come back to bite you because at some point there's a further relationship, except 2,500 years ago, sales done at a crossroads and the silk road or 1500 years ago or whatever, never see me again. That's where sales got the dirty name.
Chris Beall (02:51):
You'll never see me again. That's not the modern world. So I think of sales now, I'll call modern sales as different from ancient sales. Ancient sales was a transaction between strangers haggled under the time pressure that somebody's got to move on. The guy in the caravan has got to move on the guy at the crossroads, the trader, gets to stay, but has got to dump the inventory. At some point, a deal is struck and it's over. In modern sales, it's never over.
Corey Frank (03:19):
Chris Beall (03:20):
And that's the difference. Especially in tech. Right.
Corey Frank (03:24):
It's an ongoing relationship. And it's really... Maybe we shouldn't be coming up with... You're not a VP of sales, you're the VP of relationship management, right? At the end of the day. But that's really what it is. It's that relationship. I agree. And then I always thought that was very interesting, asking for the close comes so easy for me because if you talk upfront about somebody's problems, you discuss what different alternatives and how... What they're valuing besides you and or evaluating, right? Besides you. And then you pitch your solution. The last thing is, "Okay, now, now that I've showed you value and I've answered all your questions, can I have your commitment?" And that's never been the hard part of sales. I think, where it gets to the dirty connotation is simply it's on that upfront. It's on what you guys do. The best, Corey, right?
Corey Frank (04:09):
In terms of opening those doors. And I think that's the hardest part of is people don't want to be quote unquote, "sold to." It's great. Well, there needs to be a reason that we're here today. You have a problem, right? And understanding that problem first. So that was really eye opening to me Chris is how you talked about too that how important we are as salespeople. I think most sales people either feel they're super egotistical, right? And I'm the coolest thing since sliced bread or they kind of feel if they're not getting those transactions and they're not having success, that they feel a little minimized, right? But the level of importance that you just shared on that is is we're the crossroad, sales is the crossroads between how the economy continues to grow. That's a great way to phrase it, man. I'm going to steal that one. [crosstalk 00:04:56].
Chris Beall (04:53):
Well, everybody depends on sales, right? Yeah. See, I keep it. I hold a few patents as Corey knows. One or two or 16 or what, I don't even know what the number is, right? Some of them are, I would say important. Some of them are ancillary. The ones that were important were of no value without sales. The ones that were ancillary, ancillary. But even the ones that were important, in fact, the more important they are, the more dependent the actual value is on sales. And also think about this. When you patent something, it has to have three characteristics. It has to be novel. It has to be useful. And it has to be non-obvious to one skilled in the art. Well, novel means you can get people interested in it, but they're repelled by it because it's novel and therefore has not been tried, right? Useful is great, but things that are useful are solving problems that are already being solved. You don't get to solve new problems. You only get to solve old problems. Non-obvious means scary, right? And somewhat insulting. Like I didn't think it up.
Chris Beall (06:00):
So now you have this problem, the more valuable the innovation, the harder it is to sell. And therefore sales becomes ever more important.
Corey Frank (06:12):
Well, it seems Jason, then with that perspective on sales, how do you think if we really put you on the couch here, how do you do so well with this profession of sales, where the connotation and the denotation of what it means maybe is a little bit sullied to you or it's a little bit not as clean as, "Hey, I'm an engineer," "I'm a product marketer," et cetera, but yet you do it so well and you were obviously attracted to do it. What's that end result that kind of polarizes you to do a profession as well as you're doing it clearly.
Well, cheers, thanks again for those kudos. I'm pretty big on personality profile tests. I really do believe that there are traits that we have as individuals that make us kind of who we are, right? As a person. By the way, anything that's about your personality in certain situations, it's a positive and in certain situations it's a negative. So for anybody who's watching this, like don't think just because it's part of your personality, it's always a bad thing or it's always a good thing. That's how you judge yourself. And yes, there are certain times where you have to take something in your personality, like my example is that I really care what others think about me. Now, I'm not fearful. Fear is... It's the end of that. Like it's the far end of that spectrum. I won't even talk to somebody because I'm fearful that they won't like me.
No, but I really aim for everyone on the other side of a conversation with me to walk away that they got some sort of value, even if it wasn't a transaction, that they learned something. And I know you guys feel that same way, right? You're... I'm in it. And I'm in this game of sales because I want to provide value to others. And when they gain that value, I want them to remember, "Hey Jason, he was right. He came through on what he said, right?" And the Anarex team supported all that vision and this pied piper mentality that I have in our industry is to try to move people along. So listen, at the end of the day, if closing a deal is not the most exciting thing to you in the world, don't be in sales, because that is really what we live for at the end of the day.
That is why we get to celebrate. I am in it for providing value to people, but I also really enjoy when there's a sale made and then that customer is happy. When we have our NPS score, which we just rolled out for the first time and it's 44, and it's like, "Wow, we're actually getting customers that are happy and they are willing to promote us," if, you know, for all those who know what NPS is. Right? That's fantastic. Right? And that's kind of why I'm in personally in sales, but that personality side of things, I do believe there are certain personality types that should never try the profession. And then there's other types that would never even know that they should try the profession and really should, right? And there's more of those I think. I think sales is something that can be taught. It can be learned. It is a skill set. It's not tips and tricks though. It's relationship and you got to be in it for the right reasons.
Corey Frank (09:16):
What are you working on as a sales professional now in your career. And then also, what do you see that as you were coming up through the ranks that you wish you would've learned now from a sales trait or from a perspective or from a talent or from a habit?
Yeah, it's a really great... So one of my best skillsets personally, I think is, everyone will tell you this, so I have a funny story about this, is persistence. Persistence, I think is the one thing that a lot of people don't have that drive, that high D personality in the disc profile. That's only 10% of the personalities tested out there is the high driver mentality. And that's definitely my biggest skill set. I am more persistent. If you tell me that you want, you know, that, "Hey, call me in two weeks," you're going to get called in two weeks.
Like to the day, to the hour, to the minute. I joke around with people and say, you know, "My bathroom breaks are scheduled on my calendar." Back to persistence for a second, my story with persistence is that my wife, I asked her out freshman year of high school and that was when we were, what, 15 or so. And she said, "No." And nine years later after college, somebody mentioned her name and I reached out to her on Facebook and then we had a couple of dinners and then we got married. So don't give up ever. Always be [inaudible 00:10:35] in everything you do.
And so first off, I would say my number one skill set, and what has carried me through so far is the fact that I produce more than most because I am so proactive and I'm so driven. And I'm really trying to move things along constantly. You asked an interesting question though, which is, what did you want to learn earlier? Or what do you think you didn't know? So my first real job out of college, I ran my own company for a year with a friend of mine, but the first real job was Constellation New Energy. Constellation is a Fortune 500 company. It is the largest retailer, still as of today, I believe, direct energy and energy just merged together so they're going to be one A and one B now, like two of the top five just merged. Anyway, getting into a company like that as a 22 year old and learning the sales training. There's a gentleman named Tom Freese who write Question-Based Selling and a whole slew of other books.
He came in and he, I mean, he's a high dollar trainer. Like if I was going to say, if I had a Chris or a Corey to come in and train my sales team, right? These are high dollar, high paid top tier consultants. And so having that training early on, that was invaluable. And I thank Constellation so much for that portion of my early career. And I think that did help set the stage for my... I started off in marketing. I was doing flyers and actually running them through the mail machine to make sure that they got out to tell the market and then my transition to sales was we were having so much success with the lead generation, the sales people were like, "Oh no, that one's too small." It was still a $10,000 transaction. What do you mean small? That's still a big transaction in my mind. Millions of dollars in business that we could be gaining. And so the thought was is start up a small SMB team. And that's what we did. And how I made my transition into sales and honestly it was right in the sales management.
It wasn't even in the carrying a bag. And I said to myself, "You know what, I got to carry a bag," right? I got to do this cause I don't... How can you train somebody on what you don't know how to already do? So for two weeks, I called and just made sure that I could actually do this, but lots of confidence in myself and yeah, it was successful. And then honestly, throughout my entire career, I really didn't get back into sales, specifically carrying a bag and having a quota, et cetera, until this last role. Everything else was really sales management and leadership. Now it is this whole pied piper and I'm the one that's responsible for the revenue at Anarex and carry that weight on my shoulders and my team's shoulders. So-
Corey Frank (13:49):
Just to clarify, you are a sales leader or leader of your company who actually does sell. Chris, that's an alignment, I think, with some of your philosophies [inaudible 00:13:59].
Chris Beall (14:00):
Well, who's your rep, Jason, at ConnectAndSell?
Oh, that's a good question. [inaudible 00:14:07] Don't even know. I don't even know.
Chris Beall (14:10):
Yeah. So I'm your rep and yeah.
Chris Beall (14:14):
I mean, yeah, that's the answer, I'm your rep. And I believe that the intelligence flame front of a business takes place in the sales conversations and the sales outcomes that are happening every day. And as a business is evolving in the marketplace, if you're not out there selling in the front lines yourself, you will lose touch in my opinion, with how the business has evolved and you'll leave gaps for competitors to walk into. They get ever bigger with every day because the business is changing. The only way you can learn what's really going on is to clean off the windshield, drive the damn car.
You have to. Yep. You got to be on that frontline, again, carrying a bag and I knew it was important early on. That was a great learning... But now with what we're doing at Anarex, I feel my role on the sales team is always to sell the new product, right? Because that, there is no playbook for it. Nobody's sold it. How do you even know how to sell it? Well, again, I come back to what I really truthfully believe in, which is, by the way, strategy is nothing without execution. Execution is the most important part of my cycle. It's strategy, it's execution, it's valuation repeat, and that execution part... I think there's a lot of people out there that come up with really great ideas. How do you execute on them? And can you have that iterative cycle? And can you fail fast?
Can you make that process quicker so that you can get onto that next thing? And then once you have a pretty good way of doing it, it's time to hand it off to somebody who can make it even better. When I hired Doug and even when I look back in my career, I always say, I'm really good at getting that car from zero to 60, but then once it's at 60, somebody to take it from 60 to a hundred miles an hour, that's a totally different skillset, right? To improve upon an already existing process, I always think that that actually takes somebody that's slightly different. Again, this could just be me as a personality. I'd love to hear you guys' take on this, but I'm really good at figuring out what's not been figured out before. Once it's figured out, I think it's working. So it could be better, by the way.
I'm not so cocky that I think my way is the right way. No, my way is a way. And somebody can improve upon that. So I like stepping out of the way at that point and then giving my baby, right? Or car over to that next person who can take it from 60 to 100. That's proven out three times in my career so far where that person has been successful at driving even faster than I have. But I'm curious, do you guys feel that that's different somebody to do something that's never been done before versus somebody that can improve upon a given sales process or selling of a product?
Chris Beall (16:57):
I think that the ability to take something from scratch, an innovation from scratch to market is a completely unique, I mean, very different kind of skillset because your cycle times for that cycle you described, which is the strategy execution evaluation cycle and then back to strategy again, has got to be really, really fast. And you have to be passionately cold and it's very hard to be passionately cold. And so it's not your baby. You kill that damn thing three times a week, but you come across to other people as highly committed and highly passionate and really, really interested in the outcome. So you commit a hundred percent to the execution that's associated with that particular strategy and implied by it. But your evaluation is a cold, cold, sharp knife. And when you cut, it's gone, and you go back, you tweak the strategy and you execute again.
Chris Beall (17:55):
I think that mix is rare and belongs in that zero to 60 part. There's another cycle time that's just longer. That's required to take something bigger if that's up and running and do the same thing, but to do it and have the patience to watch it play out. I don't have that patience. I just don't have it.
No, by itself.
Chris Beall (18:19):
But if... I'm pretty good at what you do. Give me something new. I'll take it up to the point where now it's running, it's functioning and somebody else will do a better job than I do at taking that to the next level of big. Now, when you look at enterprise health, the issue with the enterprise is always that you have two things to conquer. You have markets to conquer with your current innovation, and you have the natural next innovations, which are never obvious to turn into something worth conquering markets with.
Chris Beall (18:53):
And if you don't do both of those, you just go out of business. We have a whole podcast episode called All Dead Companies are Equally Uninteresting, and it describes the process by which companies become dead companies by failing on one of these two fronts, right? So I think these are two different kinds of horses. I think the main difference is what is the cycle time you're comfortable with going from strategy to execution? So for me, strategy to execution cycle time is about a day, because I can't imagine working on strategy for more than part of the day. You exhaust the possibilities. It gets uninteresting. It's like, "I'm going to cross the river. I'm going to go with this stone, this stone, this stone, this stone, or maybe this one, this one, this... They look about the same. I'll pick this one. Okay. Now let's go give it a go, Oh, wait a second. That one rocks. My foot got wet. I almost fell in. Let's come back now. What? Okay, let's try this one," right? That to me is natural, but for some people it's not. So I think it's a big part of it has to do with your natural cycle time for running through that.
Chris Beall (19:57):
I also agree with you that execution is the key for a funny reason. And it is that the strategy itself will end up ossifying, it'll end up becoming a thing that is like set in bone or stone and becomes the subject of discourse, whereas the subject of discourse needs to be what happened when we did it? Not did we do it and did it work? Which is a completely different question, but what happened when we did it? And you got to execute cleanly, the very, very clean execution and not cheat in the middle of the execution.
Example is this. I've told you about this. When you're executing cold calls, you must not qualify. The reason you must not qualify is that you dirty the execution on the strategy which is your list. The list is the strategy. And if you qualify during the execution, which is the cold call, then you're not actually executing. You're fixing the list at the same time. So you're modifying the strategy on every single conversation and therefore you get no iteration and you have a broken process and you can't evaluate and you can't go back and tweak the strategy. So done correctly, cold calling is the execution mechanism to take market hypothesis, which is the list and immediately turn it into something you can evaluate but I think that is horses for courses kind of thing.
Corey Frank (21:21):
That's right. That's right. In the last few minutes together, I think there's a good springboard into this concept, Chris, about being a specialist versus a generalist. Because I think with what we're hearing from Jason is that in order to kind of build this trust that he has in the marketplace, right? It's okay even though they're in competing industries or quasi-competing industries, et cetera. But Jason seems to come off as a specialist, which means it's... Chris, correct me if I'm wrong, right? It's okay. A specialist can always teach a generalist and then it's always all right for you to approach a generalist because you know you're secure enough in yourself image to take advice from a specialist versus another generalist. So what do you think of that, Chris, from what you've heard, Jason as far as how he's approaching the market from his vision, as, again, as this pied piper, it's regards to specialist versus generalist.
Chris Beall (22:22):
Okay. In all cases in B2B, the idea of sales is to allow the buyer who is a generalist to be safe. It's a risk reduction exercise. So the buyer needs to become convinced that it's safe to buy from somebody and that means they have to trust the specialist. If the buyer were the specialist, they'd just go ahead and buy for themselves. They wouldn't need anybody, right? So the salesperson by definition is the representative of the specialist and must be a specialist themselves. Now there's one exception and the exception is at the very top of the funnel, the seller is selling the meeting and the meeting is a universal product. So the seller is selling the temptation or the curiosity about meeting with the specialist, meeting with the expert, but they don't have to be the expert themselves. And that's why the only bifurcation, we get a function in sales, that makes any sense at all is if we decide to have a specialist in setting appointments and a generalist at taking somebody into discovery. That one can work, but you have to be very, very careful with it so that you're not qualifying because as soon as you qualify, you're saying you're a specialist.
So true. You know and it's funny because I was going to ask before... Thanks for answering that query, Chris, because I was kind of interested how did you mean that, right? Because as a entrepreneur, when you start up a company by definition, you're a generalist. I wore part of a marketing hat. I wore part of a customer success. I wasn't just doing sales, right? So many more things that have to be done to really stand up a business. And then as you get to hire new people and bring new A-players into your organization, right? You naturally become more of a specialist when it becomes to what the role you do with inside your organization is. Having said that, when you look at it from the transaction or the discussion with the customer, if you don't have expertise and you're trying to actually sell the product, I don't think you can sell that product.
You have to understand it better than the consumer like Chris just said, and I do find it really interesting, you guys take on this top of funnel, it's why I'm here. It's why we had this discussion. It's why what Corey and Chris were doing actually worked on me when I got that phone call and I said, "Oh wow. Yeah, I got 27 seconds. Let's go, let's talk." And then it ended up being 15 minutes, but it opened the door. And I really believe that that top of funnel activity, what you're talking about, that doesn't need a specialist. It needs the person who can actually execute on getting the meeting, right. And taking that next step. You want to talk to the specialist and I love that what you guys do with that top of funnel activity. It's fantastic.
Chris Beall (25:02):
It's also very delicate and it fails for the same reason time and time again, which is that instead of just selling the meeting, the rep sells the product or the promise of the product and the meeting is just about the curiosity of what might this be. And then a certainty, and the certainty is they'll learn. When the prospect comes to the meeting, they're going to learn and what they're going to learn is known in advance and therefore that's what you're selling. That's why we recommend that the breakthrough script has got these three pieces. One of them is economic. One of them is emotional. And one of them is strategic because in the breakthrough discussion, which is called discovery, you're going to learn something economic, something about handling some of the emotions that come about in your business and something about where you're trying to go, which is strategy, which you can use, whether or not you ever transact with us. And that's the key, it's the whether or not you ever transact with us that makes the meeting and the independent product with its own features and its own value. Until that happens, you have a problem, a psychological problem, which is an approach avoidance problem. That is you're approaching somebody and scaring them and asking them to trust you at the same time. And they avoid you. And what do they do? Well, they enter a state of confusion and a state of confusion they exit. And that's the false negative problem that plagues all of sales.
Corey Frank (26:29):
Very well said. Very well said. I love these conversations. I really do. Chris and I have had now four or five conversations. I've loved it and Corey, just... Everything you guys are doing. This breakthrough script that you guys use at [inaudible 00:26:41], I love it. And for all those, not that this was ever asked for, and the check's not going to be in the mail, but if anybody's trying to save time from their sales force, I'm a firm believer in what ConnectAndSell is doing. It is going to... I'm very excited to see what it does for my sales team, but it's going to alleviate this time that they really spend, the time that they hate, which is actually getting somebody on the phone. And that's a lot of time. And I'm very excited to see what it's going to do for our organization.
Corey Frank (27:08):
We need, we need to give Susan that little clip, don't you think Chris? From Jason and [inaudible 00:27:13] podcast.
Corey Frank (27:16):
[inaudible 00:27:16] Dollars will come rolling in. Thanks for that, Jason. This is always the fastest hour in the podcast world for me. And I listen to a lot of podcasts and Chris and I know. We, besides my mother, we also listen to our podcasts a lot. Often times you plug Chris in and you feed him a cookie and you listen to the whole song here and all these nuggets come through. So well with that, Jason, thanks for joining us here in the hot seat on the market dominant guys. And every time we flip on our lights or pay our gas bill, we'll be thinking of you and all the help on crossing the chasm from all your other brokers and clients out there. So with that, this is Corey Frank and Chris Beall for the Market Dominance Guys. Until next time.
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